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What Are My Options When I Have Access To A Microwave and A Refrigerator in the Classroom?

At a Glance

In this post, we are taking a closer look at refrigerators and the types of recipes they open up in the classroom.

If you’ve been following along with our mini series, we’ve been sharing some ideas on how to take advantage of recipes and food preparation as classroom activities depending on the equipment available.

Link our visual recipes as examples and other microwave + fridge-based visual recipes.

If you’ve been following along with our mini series, we’ve been sharing some ideas on how to take advantage of recipes and food preparation as classroom activities depending on the equipment available. 


So far we have covered classrooms with no special equipment, classrooms with access to a microwave, and classrooms with access to a refrigerator/freezer. To round out this mini series we will be taking a look at how your options can open up when you have access to both a microwave and a refrigerator!


As with our other posts, we will reference a number of dishes to serve as potential inspiration, some of which are available in the AGU store as visual recipes! If you notice one of these dishes doesn’t have an accompanying visual recipe yet but would like to see one, we’d love to hear from you! Just drop us a line as hello@autismgrownup.com


So where to begin when you have access to a fridge and microwave? A great starting point is with ingredients that can theoretically set at room temperature, but can set in a wider variety of forms with a cold place to store things!

Melting and Setting Recipes

If you checked out our article on options for microwave recipes, you might have noticed a number of chocolate-based recipes. One thing they had in common was that they were able to set at room temperature, typically because of how thin a layer of chocolate was required. 


For chocolate that’s been altered or is especially thick, sitting in the fridge for a few hours can be necessary for an otherwise simple recipe to properly set. A great example of this is our Homemade Crunch Bar recipe, which can be cut into bars but comes in a rather thick layer that would take ages to set at room temp and still might end up soft and difficult to handle. 


This Peppermint Fudge recipe mixes melted chocolate with sweetened condensed milk and also requires a colder temperature to set properly.


The cold can also help with holding a particular shape while setting, as with Marshmallow Yule Logs which get rolled up in parchment paper and left in the fridge to harden.


Finally, while some forms of chocolate bark do just fine at room temperature, there are others that may benefit from setting more quickly in the fridge, especially those that have multiple layers. Speaking of layers…

Layered Icebox Desserts

One sneaky fun part of having a fridge with a freezer is the number of ways you can make a decadent cake-like dessert without having to bake anything. 


Many desserts that rely on layering also rely on the types of ingredients that could benefit from setting in the fridge to maintain their structure. 


As we alluded to, chocolate bark can be an example of such a dessert, as can any layered dessert that includes chocolate. 


Alternately, some layers like whipped cream might need cooling before being able to accommodate a relatively warm ingredient, and microwaves can open up the ways you can supplement a recipe that primarily works in the fridge. 


refrigerator recipe that relies on the stabilizing effect of whipped cream in the fridge for example might be even more fun to serve with a chocolate or caramel sauce, for example.


Even something as straightforward as ice cream sandwiches can get a little easier to execute with the temperature control a microwave offers and a little fancier with the right accompaniment! 


In any case, the fridge helps you get through the steps of those slightly more complicated recipes on a more reasonable time frame while ensuring they hold together the way they are supposed to.

Magic Shell Effects

One last style of recipe we wanted to offer that hones in on temperature contrast are magic shell style recipes! One example is frozen chocolate covered bananas, in which the pre-frozen bananas help the chocolate set quickly. 


Another option is to recreate magic shell itself by mixing melted chocolate with a little bit of coconut oil. 


Whereas frozen bananas still benefit from some time in the freezer after being coated, magic shell will fully harden just from contact with a scoop of ice cream in under a minute!

Melting Sugar Effects

One drawback of relying on refrigerator recipes is that some crucial ingredients often need a heat element to be of practical use in a given recipe. One great example of this issue is in sugary water-based drinks and desserts. 


While some can be made to rely on powders that dissolve at room temperature, others need to go to a high enough temperature to ensure the sugar dissolves completely. 


One great example of this is our juice pops recipe, but desserts that set in the fridge like jello and pudding can work in a similar way depending on the recipe and ingredients in question. Some drinks can also benefit from a microwave for similar reasons.

Recipes Relying on Frozen or Perishable Ingredients

Here is the category that in many ways is the most straightforward but also opens you up to the widest variety of possible options.


Microwaves can help with steaming frozen vegetables or heating a pancake with a more familiar consistency than a pancake heated up in the oven. 


They can also help with microwave recipes that have ingredients that don’t fare well at room temperature even for a few hours, such as the shredded mozzarella on an English muffin pizza


While any visual recipe is a great way to practice the life skill of following recipes, many dishes that fall into this category are the kind that might realistically be used day to day for snacks or meals!


When it comes to using recipes in your classroom, the exact kind you choose may depend on your class’s goals. If you are interested in making a fun treat as a class activity, something like homemade crunch bars might be just the ticket. 


If teaching practical life skills is more of a priority, English muffin pizza might be a better bet. Whatever recipe you choose, you are demonstrating the value of both microwaves and refrigerators as tools we can use in our day-to-day lives!

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