When I asked for tips for cooking with kids a few weeks back, you shared wonderful suggestions and tips. And many of you identified with my struggle, which made me feel much better knowing I’m not alone.
Since that post, I’ve had Cate helping a LOT in the kitchen. There was ample opportunity given that it was Thanksgiving week. We’ve had some great success and, while there are still moments of frustration, I’m doing much better with the whole process overall. In fact, Cate cooked with me for hours on Friday and we were both happy the whole time. It was great!
Here are a few things I’ve concentrated on the last few weeks that I think have made a big difference:
When Cate and I made Chocolate Almond Crackles, I prepared a lot of the recipe ahead of time (and she didn’t even realize it). For example, I had the chocolate melted and cooled waiting to be mixed in. The butter was softened. All the ingredients were taken out of the cupboards and all of the measuring utensils were on the counter. I can’t believe how much this helped!!! I think a lot of the trouble Cate and I have in the kitchen is she gets bored. By prepping these simple steps ahead of time, there was very little downtime while we were actually cooking together, so Cate felt consistently engaged.
Set expectations for myself – expect things to take longer, expect things to get messy, etc, etc, etc. Set expectations for my kids – for example, before we even go in the kitchen, I remind Cate that she can’t just grab things or move too quickly so that we can stay safe. I also try to remember to communicate what all the upcoming steps are so she knows what’s going on.
That one word says it all. The more patient I am, the happier everyone is. Easier said then done sometimes, but I’m working on it!
And now for the recipe for these delicious cookies. They’re from the Martha Stewart “Holiday Cookies” special issue that’s on newsstands now. (There’s a $1 off coupon for the issue on the MarthaStewart.com homepage, bottom right.) My contact at Martha sent me a copy of the issue (muchas gracias, Mark!) and it is full of all kinds of amazing-looking cookies. I absolutely love these Almond Chocolate Crackles. They have great texture, moist and chocolatey but with a bit of crunch thanks to the almonds. And they just plain taste good. The powdered sugar doesn’t really stay bright white over time…just an fyi!
Chocolate Almond Crackles
From Martha Stewart’s “Holiday Cookies” 2010 Special Issue
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted (350 degree oven for 10 minutes)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp coarse salt
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Let cool slightly.
Pulse almonds in a food processor until very finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in flour, baking powder and salt.
In a separate bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until fluffy, 3-4 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix in chocolate. Reduce speed to low, and add almond-flour mixture. Cover and chill at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (this was my job). Roll in granulated sugar to coat (this was Anna’s job – my 3-year-old) then in confectioners’ sugar (this was Cate’s job – my 6-year-old). Arrange on parchment or silpat-lined baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until surfaces crack, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days.