Running a preschool in our home for the last 4 years has definitely had an affect on how I view cooking. There are the quick kid friendly meals and the mass production recipes of course, but there are also really silly creative meals that come from bizarre themes and crazy child suggestions. Maniac Muffin Rolls were a creation stemming from a two week theme on ‘Tools’ of all things.
I had discovered a series of really fun, quite silly books all about Chico Bon Bon; “Monkey With a Toolbelt.” Chico uses his ridiculous tools to fix unique problems, all while typically solving some sort of mystery along the way.
In one such book Chico’s elephant friend Clark, (whom he met trapped in his laundry shoot after a late night out,) first makes elephant sized pancakes, then adds a ridiculous amount of baking powder to his blue berry muffin mix. We all know what that causes, right? MANIAC MUFFINS!
True to her style, Chris Monroe devises a whole situation in which Chico must save the town from these crumb dropping monster muffins, that just happens to involve the giant pancakes and a glue-like lemon sauce.
After reading the book with the children we decided to make our own blueberry muffins. The children love to help add ingredients and of-course to stir. Bigger kids get to help measure. With muffins left over from breakfast I decided to whip up a batch of Warm Rich Lemon Sauce and some thinned out pancake batter for snack, in an attempt to recreate the final picnic scene in the book. The Maniac Muffin Rolls were a huge success! I sliced them proportionately to age and offered some home made whipped cream for dipping.
Obviously all of these ingredients can be made from scratch, and would indeed be a fantastic fun way to spend a Saturday morning together as a family, but one could also just as successfully use a box of muffin mix and some Bisquick. As for the lemon sauce? I’ve included that recipe, as well as the others, below, for your convenience. (No having to switch back and forth from window to window.)
However you decide to recreate this fantastic snack, if you have children I highly suggest checking out the wonderful “Monkey with A Toolbelt” series by Chris Monroe. It’s a perfect read aloud for children age 4-6, and a great solo read for older kids. They’re especially perfect for emergent readers and children who really like to explore silly details within illustrations.
Warm Rich Lemon [Curd] Sauce
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- zest of one lemon (optional)
- 2 T water
- 3 large egg yolks
- 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, sliced
- Combine the sugar, lemon juice, zest, and water in a medium sauce pan and whisk until combined.
- Whisk in the egg yolks until well blended.
- Set over low* heat and add the butter, piece by piece, stirring gently and constantly with a wooden spoon or spatula until the sauce comes to a simmer. Cook until thickened, about 1 minute.
- If you have chosen to use the zest you can strain it with a fine mesh sieve, otherwise you can serve your sauce immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for several days.
Notes: *I used level 3 on our electric burner. It takes a long time to come to simmer, but forcing it too fast won’t produce the right texture.
Pancake Batter – Thinned for Easy Rolling in Maniac Muffins
Serves:5-6 Large Maniac Muffin Rolls
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 2 T sugar
- 2 t backing powder
- 3/4 t salt
- 3 T vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- 1 egg
- Mix everything together well in a large bowl.
- Over medium high heat prep a large skillet with cooking spray and generously pour in batter. The batter will be thinner than your typical pancakes and be able to spread nice and wide; 6+ inches in diameter.
- Let each pancake cook until the top becomes generally firmed, then use a spatula to flip. Both sides should be just golden brown.
Blue Berry Muffins
By:’Pretty Much’ Straight Out of Good Housekeeping 1973
(My $3 thrift store mother’s day gift in 2012)
Serves: 12 muffins
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 sugar
- 1 T baking powder
- 1/2 t salt
- 1 egg
- 1 cup milk
- 1/4 salad oil
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened blue berries
- They have this long drawn out procedure for mixing the dry ingredients, whisking the wet ones, then combining… I personally just dump all of the first ingredients together in a bowl and give it a good stir, then turn in the blueberries at the end. The batter will be lumpy.
- Pour into greased or papered muffin tins, until each cup is 2/3 full. Bake in preheated oven at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until golden. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.
All You Need:
- A half pint jelly jar with a lid
- Tupperware or other vessel can also be used
- 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
- sugar to taste*
- vanilla extract
*I got the idea for keeping vanilla sugar on hand from Alton Brown. It’s really easy: just place a vanilla bean upright in a pint of sugar. He says to leave it for 6 months, but you can use it whenever you feel it has enough flavor.
- Add heavy whipping cream to your jar or shaking container, making sure to leave about 1/4 empty at the top. Add a couple table spoons of sugar, more or less to taste, and just a splash of extract. You can easily taste this mixture ‘raw’ and adjust it as needed.
- Shake! That’s right, just shake, shake, shake, shake, shake! It usually takes about 5 minutes. That’s it. You’ll hear it change sound in your jar and you can open and check the consistency as needed. Stop when you get to ‘whipped’ or you will end up with very sweet butter.