Baking - Quick 'n Pretty

TobyTNovember 21, 2012

Since neither of my sisters are bakers, I always have my nieces and nephews, one at a time for a Christmas baking day. My youngest niece (9) will be coming in a couple of weeks for her turn and I am trying to think of something that is relatively quick, as she has attention issues and my sugar cookie decorating with her last year was a fiasco. She lost interest after the second cookie. She's very bright but just cannot focus for any length of time. As well as something that's quick, I would like her to have an end product she can be proud of. I've thought of various dipping things - pretzel rods, dried fruit, etc in chocolate, but am also looking for something with a little more wow factor (and preferably sprinkles!)I can certainly do parts ahead of time, but want her to be able to say "I made these myself." Any suggestions?

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grainlady_ks

You might look though the Kid's A Cookin web site for some ideas. There are some videos, if you think that would be helpful. I've used a number of the recipes from this site for cooking classes for kids at the local Food Bank. Good luck. -Grainlady

Here is a link that might be useful: Kid's a Cookin

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 4:28PM
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azzalea

I have exactly the thing. Check out the link below. Easy cookies that have sprinkles baked into them. Get some pretty jars from the dollar store so she can pack up her treasures when she's done.

I make loads of these every Christmas. I'd recommend using a bench scraper to cut them. It's sharp--but the edge is more than sharp enough to cut shortbread dough. Just hold straight up and down and then press straight down. And if you have one marked as a ruler, so much the better. (also the best utensil for cutting brownies, pizza, pies, etc.

Here is a link that might be useful: Shortbread Bites

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 4:32PM
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azzalea

OOps, meant to say that the edge of the bench cutter is NOT sharp (therefore safe for a child to use)

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 4:36PM
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booberry85

How about these?

Posted by triciae (My Page) on
Sun, Oct 14, 12 at 7:31

Jane, here's the recipe for the Gingersnap Palmiers. It's an older (2006) Martha Stewart recipe.

GINGERSNAP PALMIERS

Makes about 3 1/2 dozen

Ingredients:

1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup Grandma's molasses
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
14 ounces good-quality thawed frozen puff pastry

Directions:

1. Bring brown sugar, molasses, ginger, and 1/4 cup water to a simmer in a saucepan, whisking until sugar has dissolved. Simmer until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour syrup into a bowl. Let cool.

2. Whisk granulated sugar, salt, and spices in a bowl. Lightly sprinkle sugar mixture over a clean work surface; place puff pastry on top. Cut into two 10 1/2-by-7-inch pieces. Sprinkle generously with sugar mixture; press into pastry with a rolling pin. Brush generously with syrup.

3. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, roll in from both long sides, meeting in the center; brush with syrup to seal. Sprinkle generously with sugar mixture. Wrap in plastic, and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours (up to overnight).

4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut dough crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Dip slices in sugar mixture. Space 2 inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten with your palm. Freeze 30 minutes.

5. Bake 10 minutes. Flip, and brush with syrup. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until darkened, 10 minutes more. Transfer palmiers to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Palmiers can be stored in an airtight container up to 3 days.

I saw an easier one too, where you just sprinkle cinnamon sugar on the laid out sheets (step 2); roll up as described (step 3) about; cut as described(step 4) and then sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar and bake (step 5). No stove top cooking involved.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 4:39PM
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Olychick

How about rice crispy treats with red and green m&m's (and sprinkles if she wants)? They aren't glamorous but kids love them and they are easy to make and quick to finish. Plus they can lick their fingers because there is no raw dough.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 7:42PM
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TobyT

Those are all great ideas - thank you.
Love the website Grainlady, maybe she can cook a meal while she's here too - she'd love that.
Azzalea, those are so cute - they look like fairy food!
Booberry, the Palmiers are in fact in my lineup for Christmas - thanks again for the recipe Tricia. I hadn't thought of making them with my niece, but they sure would be quick and yet they look so elegant.
Oly - why didn't I think of RK treats? We could pat them out flat and cut them with cookie cutters (and then cover them with sprinkles!:)
Thanks for the great ideas and Happy Thanksgiving.
Jane

    Bookmark   November 21, 2012 at 11:35PM
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grainlady_ks

tobyt-

After my school psychologist daughter arrived last night, I consulted her about how to make cooking/baking more successful. She said the key to success is to keep busy and keep changing the activity.

-Copy the recipe so it's on a single sheet of paper, rather than within a field of other recipes on a page. More than one recipe per page can be distracting. Read it through together. Enlarge it if possible, to make it easy to read.

-Go over good kitchen safety practices (hand washing, equipment use, electric cords, how to safely plug something in, etc.).

-Highlight/underline things in the recipe that she will be doing or would like to do, OR, cross out each step as it has been finished (this is not only busy work, but how to track things). Kids like to know they are on the right track and accomplishing something.

-Get the equipment out and assembled in one place. Measure ingredients and line them up on a tray/cookie sheet, or in one place on the counter.

-Go over what kitchen equipment you will be using. Be very verbal and deliberate in instruction on use. If a timer is going to be used, practice with it first.

-Do one thing at a time - follow one step at a time - concentrate on one instruction at a time. Don't give multiple tasks.

-Check off each ingredient on the recipe as it's measured and assembled. Checking off is another form of busy work.

-Keep in mind other busy work associated with the project like keeping the counter wiped clean, moving cooled cookies on the cooling rack to a container or stacking them on one end of the rack, etc.

-Grainlady

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 5:21AM
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azzalea

GL gives excellant suggestions for cooking with children. I taught elementary school aged cooking classes for over 25 years, myself, so just a few more tips:

Put the recipe in a plastic page protector to protect it from spatters. You can still mark off the steps--just use a crayon, then wipe off after you're done.

Choose a mixing bowl that's way bigger than really needed for the recipe--it's easier and less messy for children to mix in a larger container.

To keep things like bowls or cutting boards from sliding on the counter as the child works, place a square of spongy drawer liner under the bowl/board and it will do the trick.

However, there's mostly one big tip--HAVE FUN!!

Glad you like the recipe--it's really cute AND tastes wonderful. Can be adapted to any season by changing the color of the sprinkles, of course.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 8:22AM
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TobyT

Thank you both for the valuable info. My sister (niece's Mom) and her husband are both teachers, so my sister was giving me a few general hints too, but she is not a cook at all, so the cooking specific hints are a big help. I'm sure we'll have a grand baking day. My niece loves white chocolate, so I think we'll make these too.

Here is a link that might be useful: White Chocolate Lollipops

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 7:48PM
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chase_gw

I bake every Christmas with my niece who has some challenges . The recipe she enjoys making most, and it turns out fabulous every time, is my Peppermint Chocolate Bark.

Just the right amount of work without getting too frustrating.

Unfortunately I haven't the recipe accessible to me right now , others have made it so perhaps they'll post it .. If not I'll find it tomorrow.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 9:30PM
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chase_gw

Here is the recipe it is really good, pretty and easy. The only thing you must be sure to do is use peppermint OIL......do NOT use extract or the chocolate will seize.....ask me how I know :-)

Sharons Peppermint Bark

Servings

1 Lb bittersweet chocolate
8 Drop peppermint oil
1 Lb chopped white chocolate
3/4 Cup chopped candy canes

Line a 11 X 17 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a heavy pan over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in 4 drops of peppermint oil. Spread evenly over pan and chill for about 1 hour.

Melt white chocolate in a heavy pot over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 4 drops of peppermint oil and then add in candy cane.

Spread white chocolate over chilled dark chocolate, spreading to the egde of the pan. Chill 4 hours.

Refrigerate just until just before serving then break into pieces. Will keep in the fridge for 3 weeks ( yeah right!!! LOL)

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 9:53PM
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chase_gw

Here is the recipe it is really good, pretty and easy. The only thing you must be sure to do is use peppermint OIL......do NOT use extract or the chocolate will seize.....ask me how I know :-)

Sharons Peppermint Bark

Servings

1 Lb bittersweet chocolate
8 Drop peppermint oil
1 Lb chopped white chocolate
3/4 Cup chopped candy canes

Line a 11 X 17 inch baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside

Melt bittersweet chocolate in a heavy pan over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in 4 drops of peppermint oil. Spread evenly over pan and chill for about 1 hour.

Melt white chocolate in a heavy pot over low heat, stirring constantly. Stir in remaining 4 drops of peppermint oil and then add in candy cane.

Spread white chocolate over chilled dark chocolate, spreading to the egde of the pan. Chill 4 hours.

Refrigerate just until just before serving then break into pieces. Will keep in the fridge for 3 weeks ( yeah right!!! LOL)

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 9:54PM
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TobyT

Thanks Chase - good idea! I have some silicone snowflake moulds so maybe I will use those for part of the recipe. I have peppermint oil and white and dark chocolate, so all I need is candy canes. Thanks again.
Jane

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 6:18PM
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Adnama

You already got a lot of great tips.

Here's another from a former teacher -

If you end up decorating a number of items, keep different kinds of decorations in reserve. i.e. Start w/ frosting and sprinkles. When that gets old, pull out the shaped sprinkles or nonpareils. When that gets old, hand her a rolling pin and a plastic baggie full of candy canes to crush and use as decorations. When that gets old, pull out the licorice whips/gum drops/red hots.

You sound like an awesome aunt.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 8:42PM
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annie1992

Amanda, hooray, you're back. How is that handsome little man of yours?

I agree, there are some good tips. I have baked with my girls since they were in footie pajamas and now my grandkids.

I learned with Bud that, although his sister is meticulous and patient, he's not. I have cookies already cut out and baked, then I frost while he decorates. That lasts for a while, then he crushes candy canes while I melt chocolate for Sharon's "bark". He would far rather eat the stuff than make it, LOL, but banging peppermints with a rolling pin is a lot of fun!

Annie

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 8:49PM
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