Watch out, mom and dad -- the kids are ready to bake up some treats! Here are three tried-and-true simple and fun holiday baking recipes for kids of all ages to try their hands at making.
Stained Glass Sugar Cookie Ornaments
For this beautiful cookie, you'll want to create an open center in the sugar cookie dough. You'll place the hard candies inside the open center. For a great example, visit Cooking Classy's Stained Glass Cookies recipe. She uses 2 different star cookie cutters to create her stained glass ornaments.
Some tips to be successful with this recipe:
Buy pre-made dough if you want to just focus on designing the cookies.
Let the kids do the fun job of inserting the crushed candies in the middle. They'll be so excited to see the final results!
(Pictured above, Easy Stained Glass Holiday Cookies, from Pillsbury)
Jolly ranchers and similar brand hard candies work best, but you could experiment with butterscotch candies and peppermints and see how they turn out.
You'll want to chop up the hard candies really well, to be sure it all melts down easily and uniformly. Try using a meat mallet. Place the candies on a cutting board, cover them with parchment paper and smash them with a meat mallet (or a clean hammer, or the bottom of a glass jar - we're homeschoolers, we get creative!). Continue w/the meat mallet until the candies are thoroughly crushed into small pieces.
Visit Martha Stewart's slideshow of 11 Easy Holiday Treats for Kids to Make Themselves.
3-Step Chocolate Pretzel Pecan Turtles using Hershey's Rolos
Visit Hershey's recipe page for easy instructions. There are oven instructions and super easy microwave instructions to choose from!
Christmas Tree Brownies
(pictured above, Holiday Tree Brownie, from Betty Crocker)
There are lots of easy brownie mixes to make and the rest of the work is the fun stuff - decorating! The stuff that kids just love to do! So bake your favorite brownie mix in a big pan, cut them into triangles, and have lots of festive candies on hand to decorate with: M&M's, easy pipeable icing, sprinkles, candy cane or stick pretzel stems, and anything else that will be fun to decorate with.
1. Double up and make two batches so the brownies aren't too flat in a large pan.
2. Teach your kids about healthier eating by substituting healthier ingredients when you can.
How to encourage a young baker who's become suddenly shy (or disinterested)
There are lots of ways that kids can get involved in the act of baking! It doesn't have to be the actual work of measuring, mixing, and prepping baking ingredients. A great way to expose kids to the joys of baking is to let them come to it themselves in ways that are developmentally appropriate for them. They might enjoy picking out the ingredients and then lose interest in putting them together. They might become disinterested, nervous, or shy when it comes time to execute the bake. This is very normal and doesn't mean they aren't actually interested. They might need more coaxing, and the project might need to be broken down into steps that are easy for them to complete.
Start off by seeing what they are interested in doing and base your plans around that. When you need them to make a commitment to helping or taking a bigger role, separate a single task for them to perform, set a timer so they know there will be a time that this task is expected to end and work alongside them doing a similar or an altogether different task. But stay present and involved in the kitchen with them. This way you'll be present to help, but also giving them space as needed to feel they are accomplishing the task. They may just surprise themselves - and you! - by completing a task competently, feeling the pride that comes along with that, and moving quickly to the next task they can do.
Don't forget to enjoy yourselves! Baking can be fun, especially when the house fills up with a wonderful aroma and the treat is ready to decorate. So, Happy Holidays, everyone, and may the joy of baking be with you. :)