Turning your kitchen into a branch of Santa's workshop is a wonderful source of family fun during the holiday season. These tips and ideas sure to bring smiles to kids of all ages and can be enjoyed by everyone-even your littlest angel.
Start by teaching your future master bakers what the ingredients do in a recipe. For example, sugar, salt, spices, vanilla, and extracts add flavor. Flour is usually the main ingredient, adding structure and body. Butter makes cookies tender, crisp and flavorful. Baking powder makes baked goods rise, as does baking soda. Eggs make the cookies soft and add volume.
Many cooks today began their kitchen careers by baking cookies. It's never too late to begin a family tradition of holiday baking. Be sure to communicate to younger children that baking must only be done under adult supervision and oven duty is "off limits". Oven duty is okay for older kids and teenagers.
Age 3-4: Very young children can help by dumping measured ingredients into a mixing bowl and starting to stir a little.
Age 4-5: Preschoolers can assist in measuring ingredients, mixing the dough, and by rolling out small pieces of dough with a rolling pin. They may even be able to use cookie cutters to make shapes.
Ages 6 and up: Kids in grade school can help decide what cookies to make. Under supervision, they can handle getting out all of the tools, help set the oven temperature, measure out the ingredients, and mix the dough. They'll also have a ball icing and decorating each cookie.
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In large mixer bowl combine powdered sugar, butter, peppermint extract, vanilla and egg. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy (2 to 3 minutes). Reduce speed to low; add flour and salt. Beat, scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1 to 2 minutes). Divide dough in half. Stir in candy into 1 half of dough; beat food color into remaining half of dough. Roll one teaspoonful of each dough to form 4-inch round ropes. Place 2 ropes side by side; twist gently like a rope and roll dough together. Repeat with remaining dough. For best result complete cookies one at a time to prevent drying out. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheets; curve one end to form handle of cane. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until set. Cool 1 minute on cookie sheet.Makes 4-1/2 dozen.
Provided by Land O'Lakes
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
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This page modified January 2007
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