The Best Desserts to Make with Kids
By: Claire Clarkson
Cooking at home with your kids is beneficial in so many ways. Not only is cooking something that kids actually want to do with their parents (after all, there’s a tasty treat at the end of it!), but it’s also a great way to teach them about good health and nutrition, and encourages them to learn important skills that they’ll need for adulthood. Unfortunately, many kids aren't too interested in the healthy side of cooking - they’d much rather whip up a batch of chocolate frogs and jelly beans than a spinach and feta pie, for example, so it’s important to find some interesting, kid-friendly recipes that are going to be fun to make, and fun to eat. Here are some tips for making baking a stress-free family activity:
Quick and Easy
As you’ll probably already know, kids don’t always have the best attention spans, and explaining about patience sometimes goes in one ear and out the other! When you’re looking for recipes to make with your kids, always opt for those that are quick and easy, and preferably those that are no-bake, so there’s no waiting round for ingredients to cook in the oven. This is especially good advice if you have a child with special needs, as it can be quite difficult for children with dyslexia, for example, to maintain focus for long periods of time. You can buy recipe books specifically designed for children, and for those with learning difficulties, which list child-friendly no-bake desserts such as cheesecake, rocky road, and mousse. Anything that can be eaten soon after it's been made an doesn't require a lengthy wait while it sets, cools or freezes is also a bonus!
Keeping with the quick and easy concept, make sure that whatever desserts you choose to bake, that there’s no difficult or complicated steps that children could become frustrated by. For example, although meringue-based desserts may seem like a good idea because they’re relatively simple, kids may not fully understand the notion of folding in the sugar, thus removing all the air from the egg whites. This is going to leave you with a meringue that’s dense and chewy, rather than light and airy, and while the end result doesn't have to be perfect, it should at least be edible! Opt for recipes that include lots of hand mixing, and for batters and doughs that won’t suffer from being over-mixed. Something that includes whipped cream is quite a good idea, such as a fruit trifle.
One of the worries of baking with kids is that we’re promoting the idea of treats, and encouraging bad behavior in terms of nutrition, but if you opt for the right type of desserts, you shouldn't have anything to worry about. While it’s OK to bake a decadent chocolate cake every so often, if you and your kids are making desserts on a regular basis, try to include some healthy choices to really show the importance of good food. Jello made up with fresh fruit is a great idea (use grapes and berries rather than stone fruits - these will add too much moisture and the jello won’t set), along with fruit crumbles and homemade freezer pops.
Some Great Ideas
If you’re looking for some inspiration, here are some options that are easy, quick, delicious, and your kids are guaranteed to love making them, and love eating them even more:
Peanut Butter Bites
Ask your kids to pour 3 cups of their favorite breakfast cereal into a saucepan, along with a good handful of mini marshmallows, two tablespoons of peanut butter, and a sprinkling of unsalted peanuts. Set the pan on a very low heat (the lowest it will go), and, while supervising, ask your kids to stir continuously until the peanut butter and marshmallows have melted, and everything is sticking together. Spoon the mixture into a tray lined with some parchment, and allow to cool. Cut into bite size pieces and enjoy. The peanut butter in this dessert is a healthy alternative to traditional butter.
Ask your kids to mix together a tub of cream cheese with a couple of tablespoons of confectioners sugar (how much sugar you add will depend on personal preference - taste as you go along). Keep mixing until the sugar has all been incorporated, and the cream cheese is thick and glossy. Spoon this mixture into a pre-bought pastry case (well, what parent has time to make homemade pastry?) and top with your kids favorite berries or fruits - anything will work, sliced peaches, blueberries, or strawberries are especially delicious. There’s no waiting round for this, you can enjoy immediately!