Winter is the ideal season to break out the mixing bowls and measuring spoons and get baking with your kids. The idea of letting your little ones loose in the kitchen might seem stressful, but in reality it can be ton of fun; and once you accept that there will inevitably be a massive mess to clean up when you’re finished, you can relax and enjoy the time together.
Here are some helpful hints to make baking with your kids an enjoyable endeavour for everyone involved:
1. Slow down your pace. If you normally whip up 2-3 dozen cookies in the time it takes the kids to get through an episode or two of their favourite TV show, I can assure you that your baking speed will be much slower when you’re surround by the kids. Embrace the pace, and enjoy the time in the kitchen with your little people.
2. Learn to live without perfection. Welcome the project and not the appearance of the end result. Learning involves making mistakes and there are sure to be many when you are working with kids. Also, stress takes the fun out of cooking and you want your kids to have a good time when they’re baking so they’ll be interested in doing it more often.
3. Read through the recipe thoroughly. This will give you both an idea of how long your desired project will take, and will also allow to you to note important steps in the recipe, like a chilling time for cookie dough. Also, reading recipes is a great way to get kids engaged with books and words.
4. Prepare your mise en place. In other words, collect everything you need to make the recipe and lay it out on the counter. Measure each ingredient into a small bowl before your begin baking.
5. Clean as you go. Teaching kids to clean up after themselves is an important life skill. Also, if you clean as you go you’re more likely to be finished with the mess by the time the cookies come out of the oven.
6. Snack as you go, too. Sneaking a few chocolate chips from the package is part of the fun. By indulging in a little treat yourself, you’ll show the kids just how much fun you can have when you’re in the kitchen.
7. Use stable stools. Letting the kids sit up high where the action is will keep them more engaged in the activity. Use a safe, stable stool or chair, or let them sit on the counter if there’s room.
Now, with all of that valuable information tucked into your back pocket, let’s gat started with our first baking recipe!
These chewy oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are beloved by children and adults alike. They remind me of the oversized cookies you often find in a coffee shop, and pair perfectly with a cup of cocoa, coffee, tea, or milk.
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Coffee Shop Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 4 tablespoons (for dipping)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 cups quick cooking oats
1 cup chocolate chips or raisins
Using a hand held or electric mixer set to medium speed, beat the butter and sugars until smooth and well combined. Add the eggs, beating them in one at time. Stir in the vanilla.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add to the butter mixture and mix. Stir in the oats and chocolate chips; cover the bowl and chill in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the extra sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
Using an ice cream scoop or your hands, make golf ball-sized dough balls and roll them in the sugar before placing them 2” apart on the baking sheets. With slightly dampened fingers, flatten the cookies, then transfer to the oven and bake for 11-12 minutes or until the edges are only slightly golden brown in colour. The centre may still look uncooked but that’s okay. They will firm up as they cool, and the cookies will have a crisp outer edge and soft centre.
Allow the cookies to cook on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Tip: If you don’t have quick cooking oats on hand, you can make them by placing rolled oats in a food processor and pulsing for 5-10 times.