(10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare)
By Lisa Messinger
Food and Cooking at Creators Syndicate
Remember the glee of pulling apart a cupcake and being surprised by what's inside? Whether it was the cloud of fluffy white soft cream filling appearing in the middle of childhood favorites, cupcakes surely can double as tasty treasure chests.
Ice cream can be an unexpected frozen twist inside cupcakes, delivering that same bundle of joy to adults and kids alike, and a perfect cool choice for the hot summer months. Such treats are also an ideal frosty choice for seasonal events, like bridal and baby showers, tea parties, picnics and potlucks.
The cozy cakes, whether homemade or store-bought (in either case, sugar-free is a healthy choice), make perfect houses to soak up innovative combinations of ice creams and toppings like frostings, syrups or whipped cream (also all sugar-free). The blend of wet and dry, crumbs and creamy in every bite, is an easy way to make sure guests remember your dessert well after the party is over.
Popular ice cream chains known for unusual "mix-ins" in everyday scoops, also serve ice cream cupcakes. However, in addition, they can be tasty templates of inspiration if you'd like ideas of how simple it is to spruce up summer cupcakes.
--- Use a red velvet, devil's food or chocolate cupcake. Make an indentation while still warm. After having cooled for 5 minutes in pan and 15 minutes out of pan, fill with a thin layer of fudge sauce and ice cream of your choice. Freeze. Before serving, top with thick pink cake frosting and sprinkles.
--- Use a red velvet, devil's food or chocolate cupcake. Make an indentation while still warm. After having cooled for 5 minutes in pan and 15 minutes out of pan, fill with a thin layer of fudge sauce and chocolate ice cream. Freeze. Before serving, top with thick vanilla cake frosting and a sandwich cookie.
--- Use a white cake cupcake. Make an indentation while still warm. After having cooled for 5 minutes in pan and 15 minutes out of pan, fill with a thin layer of butterscotch or caramel sauce and pistachio ice cream. Freeze. Before serving, top with thick chocolate cake frosting and shelled, roasted pistachio nuts.
--- Easiest of all may be to just buy store-bought mini white and dark cupcakes and, using a small ice cream scoop, top them with various colorful flavors of your favorite sugar-free gelato, frozen yogurt or sorbet.
Fun fare like this also proves food preparation can be easy, nutritious, economical, fun - and fast. They take just 10 seconds each to read and are almost that quick to prepare.
The creative combinations are delicious proof that everyone has time for tasty home cooking and, more importantly, the healthy family togetherness that goes along with it! Another benefit: You effortlessly become a better cook, since there are no right or wrong amounts
. These are virtually-can't-go-wrong combinations, so whatever you - or your kidlet helpers - choose to use can't help but draw "wows" from family members and guests. QUICK TIP OF THE WEEK:
Many hotels offer kids' cooking classes with the chefs. Consider this tasty option when on vacation, as well as having your children study up on the local cuisine and customs in anticipation of the family trip. When home, have a trip reunion dinner that the kids help cook from the recipes they received, and pore over family photos and videos.
Lisa Messinger is a first-place winner in food and nutrition writing from the Association of Food Journalists and the National Council Against Health Fraud and author of seven food books, including the best-selling The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine with 150 Recipes (Avery/Penguin Putnam) and Turn Your Supermarket into a Health Food Store: The Brand-Name Guide to Shopping for a Better Diet (Pharos/Scripps Howard). She writes two nationally syndicated food and nutrition columns for Creators Syndicate and had been a longtime newspaper food and health section managing editor, as well as managing editor of Gayot/Gault Millau dining review company. Lisa traveled the globe writing about top chefs for Pulitzer Prize-winning Copley News Service and has written about health and nutrition for the Los Angeles Times Syndicate, Reader's Digest, Woman's World and Prevention Magazine Health Books. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com.