I had the chance this weekend to attend the “Cookie Baking and Decorating with Young Chefs Academy” class, part of the New York City Wine and Food Festival. While I thought the festival was geared more toward adults, I was surprised to learn that there was a wonderful assortment of classes for kids and their parents. (They even had a sushi class for kids.)
Chefs Karen and Chris Chesleigh of the Young Chefs Academy gave parents and children tips on how to make Halloween sugar cookies at home, and even included a few science facts along the way.
Here are some of their tips and tricks to make at-home cookie baking a success. (And not a mess.)
Set up your “Mise En Place”: This is a French word that means “everything in its place.” In other words, measure out your ingredients separately before starting the recipe.
Incorporate Science: Mix together your liquid ingredients first. Discuss with your child the different scientific properties of the ingredients. What does butter do when heated? Melt. What does sugar do when mixed with water? Dissolve.
Measurements: What does a dry measuring cup look like? What does a liquid measuring cup look like? How do you level the flour when measuring? What is bigger, a teaspoon or tablespoon? These discussions with your kids are a sneaky way to get in a science lesson outside the classroom.
Food Safety: Proper food safety is another important lesson to teach your kids. Wear gloves when cracking eggs, and wash hands before touching the dough. Also, as difficult as this one is, don’t eat the cookie dough. Eggs can contain salmonella that might be present in raw cookie dough.
“Rock and roll” your Dough: Place your cookie dough on a piece of aluminum foil and loosely cover with plastic wrap. With hands on the center of the rolling pin, press down, and then slowly “rock” the dough out, and then “roll” it back in.
Decorate: After cookies are baked and cooled, outline them first with icing, and then fill them in. The easiest way to use the icing is to put it in a squeeze bottle to avoid a mess. Decorate the cookies with sprinkles. This is the time to be creative.
For a great kid-friendly sugar cookie recipe, try the one here. Also, for additional information on other classes offered at the Young Chefs Academy, visit their site here.
For information on the NYC Wine and Food Festival, go here.