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Cooking with Kids: Edible Cats for Halloween

Editor's Note: To continue our Halloween coverage, Matthew Amster-Burton shares this holiday cupcake idea for the kids: black cat cupcakes.

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"My corporate overlords at Serious Eats have demanded a Halloween post," I told my daughter, Iris, 4. "What's something we could make together to eat for Halloween?"

"How about an edible cat?" she replied.

"That sounds hard."

"We could use cupcakes." This is her solution to everything.

We wanted them to be black cats, of course, but my wife Laurie reminded me that black food coloring tastes terrible, so we decided on dark chocolate frosting. (Chocolate is my solution to everything.) For tails and whiskers, we'd use black licorice whips. For the ears, wedges of York peppermint patties. And for the eyes, white M&M's. At the party store near our house, they have one of those M&M's displays where you can choose from over a dozen colors. "We should get a few blue, just in case," said Iris.

Nobody had black licorice whips in stock. Frankly, I'm glad stores sell black licorice at all. I'm the only person I know who likes it. We bought licorice twists and I cut them into thin slivers.

We baked and frosted a batch of cupcakes. Iris popped a peppermint patty wedge into her mouth. "Water! Right now!" she cried. I poured her some. "Okay, I'm going to eat the rest of this patty," Iris announced, "and I'm going to have the water right next to me."

The cats came out pretty good. On an objective 1-to-10 scale of cupcake art, well, cupcake books have gotten so crazy that these would probably rate about a 1.7. But Iris loved them. I noticed that she was extending her pinkies in fancy tea party style while eating her cat face. "That's because my thumbs are in the cake," she explained.

Next time, I told Iris, I thought maybe we should just make cat faces, since the way we did it, someone (me) gets stuck with a cat butt. Iris said no, if we did that, they'd only be half as big.

About the author: Matthew Amster-Burton lives in Seattle. His work appears frequently in the Seattle Times and Seattle magazine. He also maintains the blog Roots and Grubs. His favorite food is pad Thai.

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