This is a guest post from my brilliant friend Chef Mary Payne Moran of Hail Mary Food Of Grace. One look around her site will tell you she is a pro in the kitchen. She’s an Okie (like me!) with 15 years of culinary experience. Her food has been featured many times in Traditional Home magazine, LA Magazine and RedTri.com and now she’s been kind enough to share some of her favorite holiday treat recipes with Motherhood in Hollywood. Enjoy!
Where to begin… holiday cookies, candies and desserts are so fun to make with your kids this time of year. Any child at any age can help in the kitchen; they just need your guidance. Some of my favorite sweets to make with my kids are M & M cookies, Chocolate dipped strawberries, banana and chocolate chip muffins, iced cake cones, white chocolate and pistachio bark and last but not least individual bowls of homemade ice cream.
There is no room for mistakes when making desserts with your child. I learned this the hard way! I was recipe testing with my three and five-year-old. We were making/testing a new recipe for cream cheese brownies. My children sat by the stove and watched them bake. They smelled amazing! After all our hard work I realized with the commotion of the children helping I never added flour (mistakes happen even to professionals!). The brownies were a total disappointment and my heart broke as my children went from ecstatic to despair in minutes. Of course we just poured the hot molten liquid over ice cream but it wasn’t the gooey brownies we had hoped for. Lesson learned: test the recipe before having children help and if you’re at all nervous premeasure the ingredients.
There are few other things to consider when making sweets and treats with children:
- Age 5 and under: Try having ingredients pre measured, so all they have to do is add it to the bowl. They love mixing at this age, so if all you have them do is pour in premeasured ingredients and stir they will be happy. Keep the recipe super simple – try my chocolate and pistachio bark or chocolate dipped strawberries.
- Age 6-10: They are ready for more complex skills: cracking eggs, grabbing the ingredients from pantry and the refrigerator, reading directions, etc. Try my chocolate chip and banana muffins.
- Age 10 and up: Let them do it! Stay close to guide but seriously I’ve seen kids this age accomplish amazing things on their own. Remember to tell your kids the number one rule-Clean up is as important as the cooking. Try my cupcake cones recipe or M &M cookies.
- Time frame: Do you have enough time? Children move slowly so add an extra twenty minutes to your time frame. Especially consider this for your older children. When they’re cooking they will definitely make mistakes and will need time to fix them.
- Ingredients: Buy extra. No one is perfect when cooking (even me) and to prevent total melt down after a cooking disaster you might want to have extra on hand.
- More than one child: If your kids are like my kids there is massive fighting when it comes to who gets to do what, so create a plan before you start so everyone knows what they are doing from beginning to end.
- Cleaning up: There is nothing worse than having a little one screaming about messy hands and not being able to get the food off quick enough. Things to know: flour removes dough from sticky hands (sprinkle the flour on and rub them together over the trash can), a bowl of warm water and a clean towel (not paper) will remove runny chocolate, dish soap that fights grease will quickly remove butter or oil.
Here’s some yummy recipes to get you started:
Crispy M&M cookies
Makes 1-2 dozen (depending on the size)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2-cup brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups AP flour
- 1/4-teaspoon salt
- 1-teaspoon baking powder
- 1-teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cups M&M’s
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Soften the butter in a microwave for 2-1o second intervals.
- In a mixing bowl, add softened butter and both sugars.
- Mix everything together with a plastic spatula or a Kitchen Aid mixer.
- Once the sugar is completely incorporated into the butter add the two eggs and vanilla then mix well with a spatula.
- In a separate bowl add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour.
- Mix all of the dry ingredients.
- Next slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well while you’re adding the ingredients.
- Last fold in the M&M’s.
- Scoop and lightly roll the dough into 2-inch balls and place them on a light-colored cookie sheet or a Silpat.
- Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes on a Silpat in the middle rack of the oven.
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Makes 1 ½ dozen
- 1 large container of rinsed and dried strawberries
- 1 pound of desired chocolate (dark for a healthier version)
- ¼ cup white chocolate for decoration
- Cut parchment paper to fit your ½ sheet pan.
- Grease the parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a small pot fill it a quarter of the way with water. Add a clean stainless steel bowl that fits over the top.
- Add chocolate and white chocolate to two bowls.
- Be careful to NOT let any water get into the bowl.
- Tempering the chocolate is not necessary but if you desire a shinier chocolate you may do so, but with young children there is no point. They will eat it wither way!
- Keep the water on medium-low to prevent over heating the chocolate.
- Melt the chocolates one after the other; stir the chocolates frequently, so both chocolates are fully melted.
- Keep an eye on the chocolate so it doesn’t get too hot and become hard and dull.
- Once the chocolates have melted, dip the dried strawberries into the chocolate and gently place on to the parchment paper to dry.
- You can use the forks’ prongs as a decorating tool by dipping the prongs into the white chocolate and gently splattering the strawberries from a few inches away (your kids will love doing this no matter their age).
- Let the strawberries harden in a cool, dry area.
Banana chocolate chip muffins
Makes 2 dozen
- 1½-cup AP flour
- 1-cup sugar
- 1-teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup milk 2 %
- 1 egg, beaten
- ¾ stick butter, unsalted and softened
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 2 bananas, overly ripe and smashed
- ¼- ½ cup chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Add the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar to the bowl.
- Mix everything.
- Then add in the egg, milk, butter, and oil and continue mixing.
- Next mix in the smashed bananas and chocolate chips.
- Pour the chocolate chip banana muffins into muffin cups with liners (spray non-stick spray on the top if your pan is not a non-stick Pan. and bake for 25-27 minutes.
- Remove from baking muffin tray and cool.
- 1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 cups of sugar
- 2 extra large eggs
- ¾-teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2-teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4-teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4-teaspoon salt
- 1/2-cup milk
- 1 dozen ice cream cones, color of choice
- Your favorite icing
- Your favorite sprinkles
- Cream the butter and sugar for 3 minutes
- Add the eggs one at a time
- Add the vanilla-it will look curdled
- Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and then add a 1/3 of the milk. Continue until you have added all of dry and wet ingredients.
- Pour into ice cream cones and top with sprinkles.
- Bake for 18-20 minutes but be sure to run a skewer to the bottom of the cone to make sure it’s cooked all the way to the bottom.
White chocolate pistachio bark
(Tip: Try adding some of your favorite nuts to this recipe!)
- 2 cups white chocolate
- ½ cup toasted unsalted pistachios
- A touch of cayenne (for kids you can leave this out)
- Parchment paper
- Non-stick spray
- ½ sheet pan
- Cut your parchment paper to fit your ½ sheet pan.
- Grease the parchment paper.
- Set aside.
- Fill a small pot a quarter of the way with water and get a clean stainless steel bowl that fits over the top.
- Do NOT let any water get into the bowl.
- Keep the water on medium low to prevent over heating the chocolate.
- Place the chocolate into a bowl and slowly melt it.
- Keep an eye on the chocolate so that it doesn’t get too hot and become hard and dull. Add in the pistachios & cayenne and lightly mix.
- Spread over the parchment paper using a greased spatula and let cool until hardened. Once it is hardened break it into pieces.
Last but not least individual Ice cream bowls. I have found that Zoku has this great bowl for making individual bowls of ice cream. Your kids will love it! Check out my website at marypaynemoran.com for ice cream recipes using their genius product.