Kid-friendly Puffy Greek Baklava Honey CUPcake with Orange Honey Syrup Recipe - Sticky Fingers Cooking
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Recipe: Puffy Greek Baklava Honey CUPcake with Orange Honey Syrup

Recipe: Puffy Greek Baklava Honey CUPcake with Orange Honey Syrup

Puffy Greek Baklava Honey CUPcake with Orange Honey Syrup

by Erin Fletter
Photo by Natasha McCone and Kate Bezak
prep time
10 minutes
cook time
4 minutes
1-2 servings

Fun Food Story

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Puffy Greek Baklava Honey CUPcake with Orange Honey Syrup

What do you hear when you throw a chicken into a volcano? "Bak-lava!"

We're making a cake inspired by one of the world's most delicious desserts and a true gift to the sweet culinary world: Baklava (BAHK-luh-vah)! It's probably a new word and dessert for many kid chefs; the joke above might help them remember it! 

We're going to explore how taste and smell go together with our ingredients today by performing some simple experiments that will get kid chefs thinking of ways to bring out the ingredients' flavors. Although this cake is not the same as baklava, it is very delicious. We know kids will love it and remember it when they have a chance to try the real thing!

Happy & Healthy Cooking,

Chef Erin, Food-Geek-in-Chief

Fun-Da-Mentals Kitchen Skills

  • juice :

    to extract or squeeze out the juice of a fruit or vegetable, like a lemon, orange, or carrot, often cutting open or peeling the fruit or veggie first to access its flesh.

  • melt :

    to heat a solid food so it becomes liquid, like butter or chocolate.

  • microwave :

    to heat or cook food or liquid quickly in a microwave oven, which uses high-frequency electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the food's water molecules.

  • toast :

    to brown and crisp food in a heated skillet or oven, or in a toaster.

  • whip :

    to beat food with a whisk or mixer to incorporate air and produce volume.

  • zest :

    to scrape off the outer colored part of a citrus fruit's rind (skin or peel) using a metal tool with small sharp blades, such as a zester, microplane, or the small holes of a grater (avoid the "pith," the white, spongy lining of the rind that can be bitter).

Equipment Checklist

  • Soap for cleaning hands
  • Microwave
  • Microwave-safe mug
  • Small microwave-safe plate
  • Potholder
  • Paper towels
  • Measuring spoons
  • Small whisk or metal spoon
  • Dry measuring cups
  • Zester or (or grater with small zesting plate/side)
  • Cutting board
  • Kid-safe knife (a butter knife works great)


Puffy Greek Baklava Honey CUPcake with Orange Honey Syrup

  • Mug Cake:
  • 1 T butter, melted **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub nut-free oil OR dairy-free/nut-free butter, like Earth Balance brand)**
  • 2 tsp + 1 T brown sugar, divided
  • 1 T honey
  • 1 egg **(for EGG ALLERGY sub 1/4 C applesauce)**
  • 2 T full-fat plain Greek yogurt **(for DAIRY ALLERGY sub dairy-free/nut-free yogurt OR coconut cream)**
  • 2 T shelled sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, toasted **(Omit for SEED ALLERGY or sub raisins)**
  • 1/4 C all-purpose flour **(for GLUTEN ALLERGY sub gluten-free/nut-free all-purpose flour)**
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2 pinches pumpkin pie spice
  • Syrup:
  • 1 small orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp honey


Puffy Greek Baklava Honey CUPcake with Orange Honey Syrup


Kid chefs can smell their aromatic ingredients one-by-one: butter, pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon, seeds, honey, and orange! How can we make each of these ingredients smell even better? Have kids brainstorm and then compare the aromas before and after doing some of the cooking steps, like melting the butter, toasting the seeds, whipping the honey, and zesting and juicing the orange. Kids can also rub the spices on their palms and slowly wave their hands in front of their noses (not too close—they can go up nostrils and sting!).

melt + mix + whip

Add 1 tablespoon butter and 2 teaspoons brown sugar to a microwave-safe mug and microwave for 30 seconds to melt it. Remove carefully with a potholder. Whisk 1 tablespoon honey for a few seconds, then mix in the whipped honey and remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar with the melted butter and sugar.

crack + whisk

Crack 1 egg and add it to the mug. Add 2 tablespoons of Greek yogurt and whisk!

toast + measure + mix

Toast 2 tablespoons of pumpkin or sunflower seeds by placing them on a small microwave-safe plate and microwaving for 1 minute. Measure and add 1/4 cup flour, 1/4 teaspoon baking powder, 1 pinch of salt, 2 pinches of pumpkin pie spice, and the toasted seeds to the mug. Mix, making sure all of the dry ingredients are mixed in with the wet ingredients. Scrape down the sides of your mug to be sure!

cover + microwave

Cover mug with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1 minute. While the cake cooks, make the Orange Honey Syrup.

zest + juice + mix

Wash and zest 1 orange, adding the zest to a small bowl. Slice the orange in half and squeeze a few drops of juice into the bowl. Mix in 1/2 teaspoon honey.

drizzle + microwave

Drizzle the syrup over the mug cake and microwave on high for 1 minute. Remove carefully with a potholder and let it cool a bit before serving.

Surprise Ingredient: Honey!

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Photo by Jag_cz/

Hi! I'm Honey!

"I'm a golden, thick, naturally sweet liquid made by honeybees! My flavor varies depending on the particular flower nectar that bees carry home to their hive. Did you know I can last indefinitely? That's forever! Try squeezing or dribbling me into tea, on biscuits, toast, or fruit, and add me to desserts."   

  • Honeybees make honey—they are one of the world's insects that makes food people can eat. An average bee makes about one-twelfth of a teaspoon of honey during its whole life.
  • In Spain, an 8,000-year-old cave painting in the Cuevas de la Araña (Spider Caves) depicts a person gathering honey from a beehive. 
  • Egyptian hieroglyphs record the practice of beekeeping in ancient Egypt and honey's use as a sweetener and as a soothing ointment for wounds. Egyptians also buried their dead with honey or used it in mummification.
  • Ancient Greece had its beekeepers, and references to honey also appear in ancient Indian and Israelite texts.
  • Honey has an indefinite shelf life—it can last forever if well stored because it has natural preservatives. It may crystallize eventually, but the crystals will melt if you warm it by putting the jar in a bowl or pot of hot water or in the microwave on low power. 
  • People initially used honey as a culinary sweetener but now recognize it as a healing ingredient in medicinal treatment. For example, honey can help soothe a cough or sore throat and heal burns or cuts on your skin. 
  • Eating local honey, made from bees living in the same area where you live, may help you build up a resistance to pollen, thereby reducing your allergies. However, there is not sufficient evidence for this. 
  • Infants do not yet have any resistance to the bacteria in honey, so keep it out of their diet until they are over one year old. 
  • Honey consists primarily of fructose and other natural sugars and has insignificant amounts of vitamins and minerals, so it is wise to limit your honey intake as you do with other sugars. 
  • Honey soaks up moisture rapidly. To make cake and cookies last longer and retain their moistness, substitute half of the sugar in a recipe with honey.

What is Baklava?

Photo by Cagkan Sayin/
  • Baklava (BAHK-luh-vah) is a crispy, flaky, baked dessert made with paper-thin sheets of phyllo dough, spread with melted butter and chopped nuts. Honey syrup is poured over the layers in a large pan as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  • Classic flavors of baklava are nuts, honey, orange, and cloves. Before baking, it may be cut into diamond, rectangle, or triangle shapes.
  • The history of baklava is disputed and includes Greek, Arab, or Central Asian origins. It is familiar to the cuisines of many countries in these regions. The word "baklava" is believed to be borrowed from Turkish, meaning "wrapped" or "piled up."

Let's Learn About Greece!

Photo by NadyaEugene/

Ancient Greece

  • Ancient Greece was a civilization in the northeastern Mediterranean region that existed from about 1100 BCE to 600 CE. Democracy began there in Athens in the 5th century BCE.
  • The first Olympics were dedicated to the Olympian gods and were staged on the plains of Olympia. Ancient Olympic sports included running, chariot racing, mule-cart racing, boxing, discus throw, long jump, wrestling, and pankration, a wild cross between wrestling and boxing with no rules except biting and eye-gouging!
  • A few of the well-known figures from this period were: Alexander the Great, who ruled over the whole empire from 336 to 323 BCE; Hippocrates, a physician referred to as the Father of Medicine; Herodotus, called the Father of History, who wrote his "Histories" about the Greco-Persian wars; Socrates, considered the founder of Western Philosophy; Plato, an author and philosopher who founded the first academy of higher learning in the West; Aristotle, a student of Plato's who also founded a school of philosophy; and Thales, a mathematician, astronomer, philosopher, and one of the Seven Sages of Greece.  

Modern Greece

  • Greece, in Southeast Europe, is officially called the Hellenic Republic. Its government is a unitary parliamentary republic with a president, prime minister, and parliament. The capital and largest city is Athens, and the official language is Greek.
  • Greece declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1821 and was recognized as an independent country in 1830. 
  • The size of Greece is about the same as the US state of Alabama but has twice as many people, over 10.5 million. 
  • The country of Greece consists of 6,000 islands, but only 227 are inhabited. Nearly 80 percent of the country is hills and mountains. 
  • About four-fifths of the people live in urban areas in Greece, and almost everyone is literate.
  • Greece has three times the number of annual tourists (about 31 million) as residents. It is one of the most-visited countries.
  • Greece is the third-largest producer of peaches and the fifth-largest producer of olives in the world. 
  • In the past, most Greeks were farmers, and they ate the food that they grew. Since Greece had a mild climate, they could grow many different fruits and vegetables as long as they got enough rain. Vegetables were a considerable part of the Greek diet and still are. Most Greeks eat a Mediterranean diet that includes plenty of olive oil, legumes, fruits, veggies, grains, and fish. They generally consume less dairy and meat.
  • Greek cuisine includes "fasolada" (soup of white beans, olive oil, and veggies), "moussaka" (eggplant or potato dish with ground or minced meat), "souvlaki" (grilled meat on a skewer), and "gyros" (pita bread filled with meat cooked on a vertical rotisserie, veggies, and tzatziki sauce). 

What's It Like to Be a Kid in Greece?

  • Greek kids have three stages of education: primary school for six years, gymnasium (junior high) for three years, and lyceum (senior high) for three years (this stage is not mandatory).
  • Kids may participate in sports such as soccer, basketball, baseball, swimming, and handball. 
  • There are many museums and ancient sites to explore in Greece. Families love being outdoors and enjoy hiking and going to the many beaches. 
  • There are several different sweets that Greek children enjoy. These include "pasteli" (sesame seed candy), "bougatsa" and "galaktoboureko" (phyllo pastries filled with semolina custard), and "baklava" (nut-filled phyllo pastry soaked in a honey syrup).

THYME for a Laugh

Why do oranges wear suntan lotion? 

Because they peel.

The Yolk's On You

Who is the honeybee’s favorite singer?


The Yolk's On You

Why did the orange stop at the top of the hill?

Because it ran out of juice!

THYME for a Laugh

What kind of bee can't be understood? 

A mumble bee!

THYME for a Laugh

Why couldn’t the teddy bear finish his cupcake?

Because he was stuffed!

Lettuce Joke Around

What do you call an island populated entirely by cupcakes?


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