| Sweets |

Grown-up Fun with Easy-Bake Oven

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Having recently achieved a major life goal, I decided to buy myself a present. The latest Apple invention? A designer handbag? A well-aged Merlot? Not for this 31-year-old woman. A used Easy-Bake Oven off of Amazon was my reward.

I didn't own an Easy-Bake Oven as a kid, but my best pal Ashley did and sometimes she'd let me come over and watch her use it. And sometimes she would even let me taste some of the tiny treats that emerged from this apparatus, which, to my recollection, used only one low-watt lightbulb for power.

The twenty-first-century Easy-Bake Oven boasts a sleeker design and more gender-neutral (purple rather than pink) decorative coloring. Hasbro has also significantly expanded the options for baked goods. I remember pancake-thin yellow cakes being the main attraction two decades ago, and today, whoopie pies and pretzel dippers are best-sellers.

My Easy-Bake Oven model came with mixes for chocolate chip cookies and red velvet cupcakes. The world's smallest cookies and cupcakes, that is, because apparently "easy baking" is also synonymous with baking en miniature. (Perhaps this is Petite Sweets' secret, eh?)

Early one sunny afternoon, I decided to make the cupcakes. I had bold plans of decorating them with some fancy piped icing, for I figured if the baking part was easy, then the decorating part might as well be a bit harder. I have to say I was still surprised by the extreme smallness of the cupcake pan, whose wells seemed only a few millimeters deep. One mix produced 12 minuscule cakes and if I ate the whole dozen, I would have enough energy to work the remote control on my Hulu for at least ten minutes.

The most time-consuming part of the process was allowing the oven to preheat for 20 minutes; actual preparation required five minutes and baking time just ten minutes per batch.

And consumption time? I dunno, 30 nanoseconds? With treats so small, it's hard to discern tastes other than "sugar," so look beyond Easy-Bake fare if you want a complex flavor profile. (Duh.) For some sweet nostalgia, it's just about perfect.

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