Cooking with Kids: Apple Love Pie & Garlic Toast

When I was a girl I wanted an Easy Bake Oven so badly. My mother just said, “here, you can cook with a real oven.” And then she helped me make cookies. That began my love of baking and it lit my sweet tooth on fire. So when my son wanted an Easy Bake Oven, I guided him to cook for real.

We cook a lot in our household. And it’s natural that our son wants to cook too. I’ve always included him when he was interested, letting him peel carrots, helping him make “stew,” and just letting him create “concoctions” with our amply stocked spice cabinet. I’ve even used a box cake (dare I say it out loud) so that he can say he did it all by himself.

Today he really wanted to cook and create. He announced his after school snack should be garlic toast. So we made garlic toast.

 

He wanted to cook more, and I had several apples that needed to be used. He wanted to make a pie, but halfway through, he said he wanted to make cut-out cookies.

We came up with the best of both worlds by making a pastry top with cut-out heart shapes. We called it our Apple Love Pie. (Complete with the pie bird.)

Apple Love Pie

 

Secret Ingredient

Jdubs really wanted to make something with the “secret ingredient.” He told me he had instructions for a recipe with a secret ingredient. [he’s been watching Iron Chef with us.]

I asked him what the recipe was. He rattled off a list of ingredients that included cinnamon toast, pickles and bananas. He also informed me that it had to be in the “blender all chopped up.” He also told me that he needed a cocktail that was mixed up.

We got out the blender and started adding things to the carafe. I carefully guided him in picking out things that would make a good smoothie “cocktail.”

He insisted that pickles were the secret ingredient and that it had to be in the cocktail. At the last minute I talked him into adding the other secret ingredient—cuties. Jdubs made sure that he wore his apron – it’s actually an apron that belonged to my grandmother.

Hopefully he will continue to be interested in cooking!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

This is a gem of a cookie recipe. And the best part is that it’s a “light” recipe. I very first found this recipe in one of my Cooking Light magazines. Cayenne is the secret ingredient, which adds a great punch of complexity that you can’t place, but know it’s what makes it all work. I don’t know what it is, but chocolate and red pepper go so well together.

The key to making this a wonderfully scrumptious recipe is to use really good chocolate. It needs to be bittersweet with 60% cacao minimum. Good brands that are easily available are Ghirardelli, Lindt and Baker’s. Don’t forget to look in the “candy” aisle for the good chocolate.

If you can get to a luxury grocery store, like Central Market, you can find tons of good chocolate. Scharffenberger is the very best American chocolate (HSO). Valharona is overpriced and overrated (another HSO). (HSO=Hot Sports Opinion).

If chocolate is the star of the recipe, use the good stuff. Life is too short for crappy chocolate regardless. For other recipes with Scharffenberger see Chocolate Covered Strawberries.

Just remember mediocre chocolate = mediocre results.

Very respectable American Chocolate from San Francisco.
30-second intervals will keep you from scortching the chocolate.
Satin-smooth chocolate.

This is perfectly melted chocolate. Look how shiny and smooth it is.

Cayenne is the perfect complement to chocolate.

You don’t want to pinch cayenne pepper with your fingers. The oils adhere to your skin and God forgive you if you accidentally rub your eye or nose (or any other precious body part with tender skin!). This is the dandiest trick to adding just the right amount of cayenne. Stick your knife into the spice bottle and get a dab on the tip of the knife and add to the dry ingredients. If you would rather use measuring spoons, it will be equivalent to about 1/8 of a tsp.

Butter, sugar and a farm fresh egg.

It’s hard to believe this recipe only has a ¼ stick of butter in it. Just for reference, traditional chocolate chip cookies have 1 cup of butter (4x the butter in this recipe). Believe me, the two greatest flavor-adding ingredients are butter and bacon grease.

Sous chef Jean-Guilliam.

I had my favorite sous chef in the kitchen today. I love cooking with my little boy. Hopefully he will know a few recipes by the time he’s 12 or 13 and can be responsible for cooking a meal a week (totally ripped this trick off from Dr. Jen.)

We drank a keg of this and I still love it. (It took us a few weeks to drink the keg, BTW)

It is Friday night, after all. And the best way to keep from eating all the dough is to drink a beer while you work. Beer and cookie dough is a no go.

Tasting the product. Always a good sign in an aspiring chef.
Payoff. Licking the beaters.

If the dough is good the cookie will be even better.

After 10 minutes in the oven, this is the outcome!

The cookies will have a slight crackling to them. This is perfect. When you break them open, the outer shell should be crispy.

Chocolate awesomeness! Crispy on the outside and chewy, moist greatness inside..
Powdered sugar makes it pretty.

A little dusting of powdered sugar for a festive look … and vla. Chocolate cookie awesomeness.

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

5 oz. bittersweet chocolate

3.4 oz. all-purpose flour (3/4 cup)

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

Dash of pepper

Dash of cayenne

1 ¼ c. sugar

¼ c. butter, softened

1 large egg

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Put chocolate in glass bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between, until just melted. Set aside to cool.

Weigh or measure the flour and put in a small bowl. Add cinnamon, baking powder, salt, pepper and cayenne. Give all the dry ingredients a stir.

In a separate (and larger bowl), beat the [soft] butter and sugar. Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until just combined. Add the cooled chocolate. Beat for a few more seconds, then add the dry ingredients by stirring it in until just mixed. Use a tablespoon or scoop to drop uniform dollops of dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, until cookies are just set. When cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes 32ish cookies.

Enjoy, Y’all.