Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Chocolate Cake Playdough

Big Brother on his third birthday. 
One of the things I am loving about Big Brother being 3 years old is the more complex pretend play he's been engaged in lately. One of his favorite things to play is "birthday party." We've especially been doing a lot of birthday party play since his birthday last month. Whenever we play it is always a different family member's birthday, they always get some imaginary presents, and there is always a cake.

I wanted to further encourage this play by creating some kind of way for him to actually make the cake. We both love chocolate cake, and what we both request for our birthdays, so I decided to search the internet to see if there was a good recipe for chocolate scented playdough. I quickly came across this recipe at I Can Teach My Child. I wanted to make sure we liked it, so I decided to halve the recipe in case it wasn't a hit. It made plenty for the play we had in mind.

Chocolate Scented Playdough 
(with the amounts we used)
2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/4 cups salt
1 1/2 tablespoons cream of tartar
5 tablespoons vegetable oil

1. In a large pot mix all the dry ingredients. 
Big Brother came in from playing outside and decided to help for this step. 

2. Add in the wet ingredients and mix. 

3. Cook over low heat on the stove, stirring continuously. 
At this point it looked and smelled like chocolate pudding. It took a lot of stirring and stayed runny, although lumpy, for quite some time. Finally it started to look like this and although the stirring got a lot harder it was really important to keep stirring so it didn't burn. 

4. When it has cooked long enough to be smooth and not sticky, knead for several minutes.
I turned it out onto the counter and kneaded it for about five minutes. At this point it felt like typical playdough, but warm, and smelled AMAZING. 

5. Let cool either on the counter or in an open ziploc bag. 
(I did both, leaving the bag open so that moisture didn't gather and make the playdough sticky. )

Now For the Party Fun . . .
As the playdough cooled I gathered some different "cake" making materials. I used items from both our real kitchen and Big Brother's play kitchen. 

Materials included a plastic pan, a mini-muffin tin, paper plates,
birthday candles, a medium mixing bowl,
some small utensils, a plastic mat, and shiny beads.

Big Brother was immediately drawn to making cupcakes. 

He added in the candles as he worked, sang me happy birthday, and had me pretend to blow them out.  

Then there was also some cake making,

more singing, some pretend licking of the candles, 

and birthday cakes for everyone, including the dog.

This activity was a big hit. I often gage things by how long he sticks with something and he was engaged with this play for an hour. He requested it again in the afternoon. 

Age Note: I should add that this playdough smells incredibly good, good enough to eat! It reminds me of the scent of fresh brownies. Even Daddy, who usually never wants anything chocolate, took one whiff and asked if I was going to make some real chocolate baked goods. For that reason, I wouldn't do this playdough activity with littler kiddos. I would stick with kids who are old enough to understand that even though it smells good, it's really just for playing. Although it wouldn't be harmful if sampled, it definitely would taste yucky. And for those of us adults who are trying to wean ourselves off a daily chocolate habit, it can be almost maddening . . .

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