Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Crackles

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Do you have questions that you get asked a lot?  Like if your hair color is real or if “all of those kids are yours”?  I get asked both of those questions a lot, but not quite as much as I get asked:
“How do you cook so much with your kids?”
My first reaction is to say, I dunno…well…I just do.  However, I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I realized there might be more to it than that.  I just haven’t really thought about it.  I try to be (and often fail at being) deliberate when it comes to letting the kids help.  I’ve learned to say yes when they ask to help and know ahead of time that there will be an extra mess when they do. Sometimes I’m excited about the help and sometimes I’m in a hurry and get snappy, but I still TRY.
I know other people REALLY REALLY want to cook more with their kiddos, so I thought I’d share how we have gone about it in a way that works for us.  Who knows?  Maybe your kids will be able to make breakfast for everyone in your family this week? :)
I asked my daughter Faith (7) if she would help me show other kids how to bake something.  She giggled and said “of course”.  This last year I have let her make more meals over the stove on her own so that she will be hopefully be self-sufficient by the time she’s an adult and then will be able to make yummy meals for her husband and family.  Hopefully.  When she started cooking when she was a wee one, she most definitely made mistakes, but how else is a kid to learn, right?
When Faith was little, I started cooking “lessons” with spreading peanut butter, grating cheese, washing vegetables,  mashing potatoes, whisking eggs, and rolling cookie dough.  Those can really be started around age 2 or 3, they will just be messy versions of the expected result…which is totally fine.  I am a perfectionist, to a fault, so I have had to work on setting reasonable expectations.
Once kids are old enough to use the stove, there is a world of possibilities!  Everyone really has to decide for themselves what age is best for this.
This Christmas, Faith made her first batch of Christmas cookies, following the recipe.  The exciting thing is, if we give our kiddos the tools they need to cook…they totally can!  If you don’t know how to cook or don’t like to, consider getting your little ones on the path to having those skills.  Remember their wives and husbands they will be feeding and even you later in life!  Letting them follow a recipe is an easy way to find out how much they actually have let soak in.
I’ve narrowed down some teachable moments:
  • K I T C H E N   S A F E T Y:  washing hands, not licking fingers, proper use of knives, hot things, etc.
  • Operating the oven and finding the correct temperature.
  • Talking about what degrees are.
  • Why we preheat.
  • Identifying measuring cup sizes and also the different measuring cup used for liquids.
  • What the abbreviation is for a cup.
  • Measuring using a recipe.
  • That there are 4 quarters/parts to a make a whole.
  • What it means to “pack” something in a measuring cup.
  • Proper use of salt (too much vs. too little and why both are bad).
  • Turning on the stove
  • Finding and using the right amount of heat
  • Stirring to prevent burning
  • Measuring while cooking at the same time
  • Breaking eggs into a bowl before adding them to your recipe to prevent eating egg shells.
  • How to get egg shells out of a bowl of scrambled eggs. :)
  • Telling the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon.
  • Learning their abbreviations.
  • That there are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon.
  • Getting a smooth consistency when stirring.
  • Scraping a bowl clean
  • What it means to “level” something.
  • The difference between baking soda and baking powder
  • What it means to “chill” something.
  • Cleaning up after you cook!
(side-note: I didn’t stage this. She was talking about what her Nutcracker performance would be like, then she stopped to daydream!)
  • Rolling cookies
  • Setting a timer
  • How to take things in and out of the oven properly.
Chocolate Crackle Cookies
(family recipe)
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/3 c. canola oil
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1/4 c. powdered sugar (for rolling)
Melt the chocolate in a saucepan.  Remove from the heat and combine it with the brown sugar and oil.  Add eggs one at a time and beat well.  Add vanilla.  Combine flour, baking powder, and salt.  Add to the chocolate mixture.  Stir in nuts, if using.  Chill the dough for 1 hour or up to 3 days.  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Roll the dough into balls a little larger than a whole walnut or really as big as you want(just increase the baking time).  Roll them in the powdered sugar.  Place them on a greased cookie sheet or a silpat.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool and enjoy!
Happy little lady with her first solo Christmas cookie baking!

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6 comments to Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Crackles

  • Rachel

    This is such a sweet post. My parents always invited me to help them cook/bake growing up, and I loved it. It’s something I definitely want to do with my children.

  • Vanessa Gerbrandy

    I adore this post – my favourite yet. I love to see kids in the kitchen. My daughter has gone to the most awesome cooking classes since she was a tot and now she’s five she can cook so confidently. We’ll definitely try this recipe during the holidays. Keep up the fab work on the blog and I send loads of support with home schooling. Happy holidays!

  • gingerbread

    Thanks — wanna run right down and make these – Just MIGHT!
    You have a sweet Nutcracker there — can tell she has a tender heart!
    Enjoy the Kids – they DO grow Exponentially :(

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