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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cooking with Kids Redux…and DELICIOUS Chocolate Almond Crackles

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 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
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup blanched almonds, toasted (350 degree oven for 10 minutes)
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  1. Melt chocolate in a double boiler or a heatproof bowl set over (not in) a pan of simmering water. Let cool slightly.
  2. Pulse almonds in a food processor until very finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl, and stir in flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.


  1. cookies look lovely…I’ve made a variation of these in the past but haven’t “pulled them out” in a long time…I think I’ll have to give them a whirl again..the almonds are a new twist that I haven’t tried…
    As for cooking with kids..I’ve done it with nieces and nephews, and patience is definitely the key! 🙂
    cathy b. @ brightbakes

  2. I’m so glad the cooking is getting easier…. it’s so much about lowering expectations and giving up the control (and I’m not calling you a control freak, it’s just the stuff that we, as ‘gals of the kitchen’ like and how we like it, the kids don’t get that or even care about it, so we need to let go of what we like and how we like to do it in order to have it be fun for them, and us).

    I hope you had a fabulous Thanksgiving Jane!

  3. The cookies look delicious…I made some similar ones last week, although without the almond. Glad it’s going better in the kitchen with your daughter. I find it easier with the kids in the kitchen sometimes because I know what they are doing while I am trying to cook or bake. Even so, I save some cookie-baking for after the kids are in bed…for my sanity.


  4. Your cookies look fantastic! The best part about cooking with kids (besides the fun) is the wonderful conversations that happen and the simple joy that radiates from them as they complete the different steps, tasks and ultimately the dish!

  5. 5
    Lisa D

    They look great – you are so right about pre-preparing stuff. When I’m organized it makes a difference with my twins…and yes patience. I might try this recipe as a gift for the girls’ teacher.

  6. 6

    I just made these last night from a different recipe! I have made a few variations of these in the past as well. Ones were black forest crinkle cookies. They had coffee and dried cherries in them. Big hit last Christmas.

  7. I love crackles – and these look just perfect!

  8. These cookies look so tasty!

    I love them all laid out on the cake stand.

    Thanks for sharing!!

  9. 9

    Those cookies look AMAZING! I also love that you cook with your kids! I will definitely be doing that when I have kids, and I think the point about having things prepped ahead of time is key.

  10. 10
    Kerry Carlone

    I just made these, and I think that the 1/2 flour is an error. It is not a dough when you add 1/2 cup of flour. i added a total of 2 cups and it seems better. I haven’t baked them yet, hoping they turn out!

    • Jane Maynard

      I just double checked the recipe in the magazine, and 1/2 cup flour is correct…and that is what I did. the dough is definitely a wetter dough, but refrigerating it is KEY to making it work before you form them into balls…

      soooo….just crossing my fingers for you that your cookies still come out! I have no idea what they’ll be like since it’s a lot more flour than I used! 🙂

  11. 11

    Hey…I just made these cookies of urs..and hey urs look fabulous..but mine was not good at all. I followed exactly all the steps. But they came out as flat discs and burnt 🙁 I do not know what went wrong. My half the dough is still in the fridge. I do not know what to do with it? Do u think I should try bake another batch or any suggestions to getting it right?

    • Jane Maynard

      I don’t know what to say! just like when kerry commented, I went back, and triple quadruple checked that I copied the recipe correctly, and I did! this is exactly what I did.

      did you do 1″ balls? 1″ is pretty darn small…that’s the only thing I can think of. these cookies are very chocolatey, not cakey…I imagine if they were too big they may fall flat.

      that’s all I can think of right now! let me know how big your cookies were…curious what’s going on!

  12. 12

    does anyone know the difference between these cookies and the “chocolate crackles” printed in an earlier issue of martha stewart’s holiday cookie magazine, which i think was from 2007? the one in the 2010 edition has almonds added, but it also has less ingredients. the 2007 edition had 1 1/4 cups of flour instead of 1/2, 1/2 cup of cocoa added in, more brown sugar and more baking powder, and no almonds. i like the 2007 recipe, so i’m just going to stick with that, but i was just curious as to how the cookies came out differently.

    • Jane Maynard

      I’ve never had that 2007 recipe…if you wouldn’t mind, would love it if you could share the actual recipe, I just might have to do a comparison taste test! 🙂

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