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Sweet Treats

Simple ingredients, plus you, your kids, and a free afternoon are all you need for these baked goodies that are perfect for sharing.
 

Learning Benefits

It's no surprise that most children love baking — and not just for the promise of spoon-licking and sampling the finished product. Baking treats is a yummy mixture of science (measuring, weighing), craft (cutting out cookies, decorating cakes, icing cupcakes), and pure messy fun. Plus, baking together gives you a chance to interact with your child, practice teamwork, puzzle out recipe directions, and share the joy of accomplishment. Finally, baking requires patience as you watch the timer tick down and peer through the oven door as muffins rise or cakes brown. Tempted? Tie on the apron and roll up your sleeves; here are some kid- and parent-friendly treats you'll want to bake and share.

 

Dream Puffs with Whipped Cream and Chocolate Drizzle
Classic Gingerbread Cut-Outs
Pinwheel Cookies

 

Dream Puffs with Whipped Cream and Chocolate Drizzle

 

What you need:

 

Puffs:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1⁄2 cup (1 stick) unsalted
  • butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 eggs

 

Filling/topping:

  • Whipped cream
  • Chocolate syrup
  • Strawberries and/or raspberries, washed and cut up

What to do:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine water, butter, sugar, and salt and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir with a wooden spoon until butter melts, about 2 minutes.
  2. Add flour, stirring constantly, until dough dries slightly and starts to form a ball, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat. Continue to stir until dough cools slightly.
  3. Transfer dough to the bowl of an electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating on high after each. Stop beating when the mixture turns glossy.
  4. Fit a large pastry bag with an open tip and fill with dough. (If you don't have a pastry bag, use a large sealable food storage bag, and cut a hole out of the corner.) Pipe mounds of dough, about 1" wide and 1" high, leaving about 2" between, onto baking sheets.
  5. Bake until puffy and golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. The puffs should sound hollow when tapped. Poke a hole in the side of each with a skewer to let the steam escape, then allow puffs to cool.
  6. Slice the tops off with a serrated knife. Fill with whipped cream and the berries, replace top, and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Makes about 2 dozen.

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Classic Gingerbread Cut-Outs

 

What you need:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1⁄2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 2 large eggs

What to do:

  1. Combine flour, spices, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer on high, beat together butter, sugar, and molasses until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, and beat until fluffy.
  3. Add flour mixture to butter mixture a little at a time, and beat until just combined. Dough will be stiff.
  4. Divide dough in half, flatten into disks, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour or until firm enough to roll. Cookies hold their shape better when baking if the dough starts very chilled or frozen.
  5. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. On a floured surface, roll one dough disc at a time to 1⁄4" thick. Cut into gingerbread-man shapes by hand or with cookie cutters. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet, and bake 10 minutes or until cookies are light brown around the edges.
  7. Allow cookies to cool on racks and decorate as desired (use tinted icing, small candies, raisins, etc.). Makes about 2 dozen (depending on size).

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Pinwheel Cookies

 

What you need:

  • 1 1⁄2 cups butter (3 sticks), at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs plus one beaten egg white for "glue"
  • 1⁄2 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1⁄4 cup cocoa powder

What to do:

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat well.
  2. With mixer on low, add flour a little at a time until it's all incorporated.
  3. Divide dough in half, and set aside one half. Return other half to bowl, add cocoa powder, and blend well.
  4. Pat each half into a rectangle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 1 hour (or more; if you're short on time, let the dough chill overnight).
  5. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to 1⁄4" thick.
  6. Measure and trim edges so that both pieces are of equal size.
  7. Brush one with egg white "glue," stack second layer on top, and brush with remaining egg white.
  8. Starting at the end closest to you, roll dough into a log, smoothing and straightening layers as you go. Press and seal the edge gently. Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap, and return to refrigerator to chill for 1 hour.
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F, and line baking sheets with parchment paper. With a very sharp knife, slice dough roll into cookies, no more than 1⁄4" thick, rotating the log as you go to preserve round shape. Place on baking sheets, and bake for 12-15 minutes. Makes about 32 cookies.

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