Baking with kids. It’s one of those things that as a mom, I know I should be doing. But as a sort of frantic, totally spastic baker who rarely follows the instructions, well baking with little ones sort of makes me a bit crazy. But this year, I’ve vowed to slow down. To savor the moments. To enjoy the journey. Which means that every Sunday, Audrey and I bake. And she gets to pick the recipes. And I don’t try to steal her baking thunder by doing everything myself. I really let her play. Which also means that sometimes Whoopie Pies, turn into Whoopie Cookies. A deflated but wildly delicious version of the original.
Okay so before we dive into the recipes, I thought I’d share a few tips for baking with kids…whether it’s your rambunctious 4 year old niece or your curious 2 year old son. All ages can partake in the fun.
1. Pre-measure everything. You don’t need large bags of flour and sugar out on the countertop that tempt little hands into dumping them out. Premeasure everything into large, easy to hold measuring cups. Kids as young as 2 can be the official “pourer” of the dry ingredients. Let the older ones pour the wet ingredients.
2. Set the rules. Grown-up handles all electric anythings. Whether it’s an oven, a beater or a mixer, little fingers need to keep to themselves during these steps. And tasting is only allowed when said electric tool is on the off position. Oh and washed hands are a must.
3. Set the height. We bake at our kitchen table because it’s far easier for the little ones to sit and stir as opposed to balance on a stool and stir.
4. Perfection is negotiable. Remember that perfection flies out the window when baking with little ones and that happy accidents are often the most delicious.
5. Let your little ones really, really participate. Fill a pastry bag just for them, give them a small bowl of icing to help with the final steps. Give them a spatula to help pull the icing out the bowl or a large bowl filled with chocolate chips to add as the final ingredient. Even steps that feel more grown-up can be simplified for the little ones. And the pride that they take in seeing their hard work turn into something wonderful is worth every last effort.
WHOOPIE PIE COOKIES
adapted and inspired by Whoopie Pies
1 2/3 cups flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup finely shaved semi sweet chocolate
4 tbs unsalted butter, softened
4 tbs vegetable shortening
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 375, using the center rack. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir together the dry ingredients – flour, coco powder, baking soda, salt, and shaved chocolate. Using a mixer on low speed, beat the butter, shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and the vanilla and mix until well combined. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk and beat. Scrape down those pesky sides and add the rest of the flour and the milk. Beat until fully incorporated.
Using a pastry bag (or a tablespoon coated in a VERY light coat of oil) create little silver dollar sized circles, about 1-1.5″ each trying to stay consistent in size and leaving about 2″ between each cookie. More for larger circles. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool completely.
1 stick of butter, unsalted
8 ounces cream cheese, unsalted
2 cups of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Beat your butter and cream cheese together until well mixed. Add in powdered sugar about 1/4 cup at a time until fully incorporated. Stir in your vanilla.
Fill your pastry bag with the frosting and pipe into one half of the cooled chocolate cookies. Place the other half of the cookies on top to form your whoopie pie cookies!
Photography: Style Me Pretty Living