Gaby received a Disney Magic Bake oven for Christmas and right after purchasing it I started looking into DIY mixes for it. Not finding any and finding other parents looking as well I decided to reverse engineer it and post the recipe.
If you haven’t yet purchased this product and are thinking about it there are a few things you should know about it. This oven competes with the Easy Bake using “cool air technology.” The advantage is that if your child is on the young, uncoordinated or otherwise dangerous side they can’t burn themselves with this one. Gabrielle is 2 ½ and loves to help in the kitchen. I was looking for the Easy Bake but it was sold out. This gave me the chance to evaluate Target’s other offerings and consider that the Easy Bake is supposed to be for 8 years old and up and at least the “cool air technology” is safe for 5 and up. Of course, that’s still twice her age but all that goes into “cooking” here is stirring. There is the added bonus that she has no excuse for climbing onto the counter to use the microwave and she is likely to try to use this oven while I’m occupied with the babies. In other words, if your child can handle the Easy Bake oven I would recommend you skip this product but for a very young child it’s not a bad option.
The Easy Bake oven heats and some of the other products (cupcake maker, for example) require microwave use. Not this one. This has lead many parents to ask of the online community, “how does it work and does this mean it uses dangerous chemicals?” The oven is a plastic box with a tray on the bottom to hold ice cubes. The mixes use gelatin to firm the cake in a matter of minutes. Flour attempts to lend it a cakey consistency and baking powder attempts to give rise. The result is not exactly a cake.
It reminds me of the sweet, green, translucent confections that my mother would bring home from
Understanding and improving the results of the Magic Bake mixes
As I mentioned earlier, the critical ingredient in the Magic Bake mix is gelatin. Gelatin is a protein that starts out as a solid, dissolves well in water, melts at a fairly low temperature and firms when it is chilled. Controlling the gelatin well is critical when you are using it in a recipe. Most recipes call for the gelatin to be mixed with a small amount of liquid (not necessarily warm liquid) and allow it to soften for a few minutes. At this point the water will be evenly distributed throughout the granules of gelatin. Then the softened gelatin is heated gently until it melts. You can combine the melted gelatin with other ingredients and chill it. Depending on the amount of gelatin used you could end up with a slightly firm, sliceable desert with a soft texture or you could end up with a very firm “Jello Jigglers” dessert. When flour is added you wind up with a more cakey consistency that can be soft or firm.
For these cakes the gelatin is handled as simply as possible to make it easy for kids to use. Start with water as warm as is safe for your child to handle. Hot tap water should work; it usually cools enough by the time it gets to the table to be measured out. The softening step is skipped but because I use a bit more water than the Disney directions call for it is a little easier to distribute the water evenly. The water also needs to be warm enough to melt the gelatin for the best results.
The cake consistency comes from both cake flour and baking soda or baking powder. The flour adds substance to the confection. It is barely stirred and I used cake flour rather than all purpose so the texture is particularly soft. In the chocolate cake the cocoa reacts with the baking soda to make bubbles. In the vanilla version (I may attempt this later if I can find the box) the baking powder supplies both the acid and the base. In both cases the reaction takes place as soon as the water is added. You have very little time to capture the rising action created before the bubbles fizz out and before the cake firms too much to allow the bubbles to aerate the cake and make it softer. I would suggest stirring just until all the mix is moistened and pouring it immediately into the pans. We did this in under 20 seconds.
In summary: Use about 2 tablespoons of very warm/hot water, stir quickly and pour immediately in to the pans.
NOTE: When I remade this from the Disney mix I decided to add a little more water and the confection was considerably softer with a texture that resembled a brownie or dense chocolate cake. I adjusted the water to add to the recipe below for similar results. Also, for both the Disney mix and the recipe below it is best to use very warm water (it should feel almost hot but not hot enough to burn you) and you need to work fast.
No Bake Chocolate Cake
- makes 2 miniature cakes
4 teaspoons powdered sugar
2 teaspoons gelatin
1 ½ teaspoons cake flour
1 ½ teaspoons cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch table salt (1/16 teaspoon)
Combine the above ingredients. Can be stored at room temperature. To multiply the recipe, assume that the salt amount above is 1/16 teaspoon.
To use the mix
Put a few cubes of ice in the bottom drawer of the oven.
Add 2 tablespoons of very warm water to one recipe of the mix (or 3 Tablespoons of the mix if you made a larger batch). Stir quickly (about 10 seconds) to dissolve all of the mix. The batter should be fairly pourable at this stage. Pour it quickly into the mini pans that came with the oven and put in the oven for 15 minutes.
When Gaby started asking to bake with her oven and I wasn’t ready to make more mix we tried a few other easy options. She prepared instant pudding and poured it into a premade graham cracker crust and the dessert was ready in about half an hour. You might want to try a simplified charlotte by mixing instant pudding with a little gelatin and whipped cream and chilling it in a lady finger lined miniature cake pan.