Ever since Will was old enough to stand, he’s been helping me in the kitchen. Paige too. They can spin salads to remove water like nobody’s business. They know how to tear lettuce into bite-sized pieces, measure ingredients and sift. They can mix and fold. Will knows how to add the flour mixture to wet ingredients s-l-o-w-l-y and without making a mess.
They love to cook, and so do I.
One of my goals for 2010 is to share more about cooking with kids, including recipes that lay out how kids can help you. Cooking with kids is a great way to spend quality time … and it gives them a great sense of accomplishment when they can say that they helped make it. You should see how my kids beam when they’ve made something delicious.
This first recipe is easy, easy, easy and totally kid-friendly. Kids will love being able to help make it, and then will love being able to eat the sweet, crunchy, chocolate-coated grahams too. Does it get any better than that?
First, you break graham crackers along the perforated lines into rectangles. If you have grahams that break easily, then this could be a kid-step, but mine weren’t easy to break. In fact, this was the hardest part for me. It took a whole sleeve of grahams to get the 24 that we needed for this recipe. Will didn’t mind though … he got to eat the causalities.
My advice? When you are breaking the grahams, take your time and be gentle. Really. I mean it.
Next, you line a baking sheet with waxed paper. You aren’t going to bake anything, but this is a good staging area for the grahams at all the stages of making them. If you tear off the paper, then your child can do the lining (and almost certainly ask “What’s next?”).
The next step is a kid-step too: spreading marshmallow fluff on the crackers. Will used a training knife, that came with a toddler silverware set. If you don’t have one, don’t worry — a dull plastic knife will work too. Don’t worry if they get a little overzealous with it — more is better. And bonus: for preschoolers, this is a great fine motor skill building exercise. We all know how important that is.
Also, you might want to have a spoon handy to let your child lick a little marshmallow off. They will probably want to lick the knife … and that just isn’t a good habit to get into.
The last step is for adults. You melt up some milk chocolate (I use the Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar — about half a bar is perfect for this) in double boiler set over water. Don’t have a double boiler? Use a nonreactive metal bowl over a pan of water. Just don’t let the water touch the bowl.
Finally, you coat the grahams in chocolate, let them cool and then refrigerate them. As you are coating them, be careful not to touch the area where the marshmallow fluff is. It’s way easier than that sounds. I swear. Also, these actually get better with age, so make them the day before you want to serve them (don’t worry, it’s okay to snack on a few in the meantime!).
How do your kids help in the kitchen? Share!
Chocolate-Covered S’mores Grahams
8 full graham crackers, broken along the lines into small rectangles
8 oz milk chocolate
Kid Step: Line a baking sheet with waxed paper (an adult should tear the paper from the roll) and set on a table or work surface.
Kid Step: Using a kid-sized knife (either a toddler-training knife or a plastic knife), spread marshmallow fluff on one side of each cracker. Line them up on the baking sheet.
In the top of a double boiler, over water, melt the milk chocolate until just smooth. Remove from the heat.
Drop the grahams in the chocolate one at a time, using a fork to gently turn them to fully coat. Lift carefully from the pan (touching only the side WITHOUT the marshmallow fluff), tapping the fork on the side a few times to smooth the chocolate and drop any excess off. Lay carefully back onto the waxed paper-lined pan. Do not let the grahams touch each other.
Once all the grahams are covered in chocolate, let them harden at room temperature for about an hour. Then transfer to the refrigerator (on the tray) until fully hardened. Store them in an airtight container, until ready to eat.