Oatmeal and chocolate chip cookies – Baking with kids

Oat and chocolate chips cookies in a child's suitcase

If you have toddlers and you travel with them, be it by car, plane or train, you have at some point googled this subject. And on every list op tips and tricks there is an entire paragraph dedicated to snacks. Not only to keep hungry travellers happy but also as a bargaining tool when said travellers refuse to go through the metal detector at the airport or fights the carseat belts.

drawing of Madagascar by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Here’s the thing with snacks. No mini-traveller will accept carrot sticks as a bribe. And no parent will give hungry tummies a packet of gummy bears pretending it’s a meal (although… I can totally see how a situation could arise where this would be the only way forward…). If you want to keep things on the healthier side, you’re better off making the snacks yourself. But if you’re in the middle of packing and the munchkins want to help by throwing every possible item of clothing they own in your suitcase, the last thing you’ll want to do is spend a lot of time on baking “responsible” cookies. The effort required for these cookies is minimal. One bowl, one spoon, one scale (or 1 set of measuring spoons in Cups) and 3 minutes of elbow grease. Or take some time out from the holiday prep and get your mini-travellers involved. I’ve been making these oat cookies with my daughter since she mastered some sort of stirring motion around her first birthday.

The cookies are practically crumb free so no post-car journey vacuuming required.  And if you add raisins instead of chocolate chips you will also arrive at your destination without chocolate fingers on your new T-shirt. I hope your travels this summer will not involve too much munchkin stress. And if you think you’re going to lose the will to ever travel again, just grab a cookie! Safe travels!

oat and chocolate chip cookies

Oat and chocolate chip or raisin cookies (no refined sugar)

(makes 9 cookies)

Ingredients:

80g or 3/4 cups oats

40g or half of 3/4 cups flour

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp baking soda

30ml or 1/8 cup honey

30ml or 1/8 cup maple syrup

30ml or 1/8 cup rapeseed oil (or another neutral tasting oil, no olive oil)

1/4tsp vanilla essence

1 banana, mashed, no lumps (for a more crunchy cookie, use 1/2 banana)

4 tbsp chocolate chips or raisins

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Using a wooden spoon, mix all the ingredients in a bowl.

3. Spoon 1 tbsp of the mixture at a time onto the baking tray, making 3 rows of 3.

4. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden.

5. Cool on a wire rack.

Note: These cookies do lose their crunch quickly even when stored in an airtight container.

ENJOY!

Child's suitcase with toys and books

The Children’s Atlas “Alle Welt” is by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinska translated to German by Thomas Weiler and published by Moritz Verlag, Frankfurt am Main.

The book “Nijntje vliegt” is by Dick Bruna and published by Mercis Publishing, Amsterdam.

The book “Mumin Var är Lilla My?” is published by Alfabeta Bokförlag AB, Stockholm. It is translated from the English version “Moomins lift-the-flap Hide and Seek” which is published by Puffin Books, Penguin Group.  

This recipe has been adapted in several ways over the last 3 years. I do not remember the blog I found the original recipe on. 

Swedish sticky chocolate cake – Kladdkaka

kladdkaka with cream and blueberries

In Sweden, where P. is from, there is this tradition that on Saturday everyone goes to the supermarket and fills a big bag full of sweets from the huge pick and mix stand. When you get home, you can keep your lördagsgodis (Saturday sweets) in the bag or put them in a large bowl and munch away all weekend long. This mix of bonbons, chocolates, fudges, caramels and more is a colourful display.

Sometimes, I think our little family is a bit like that bowl of mixed colours and flavours. P. is Swedish, I am from Belgium, the kids were born in Northern Ireland and we chose to settle in Germany. Berlin is our home and we plan to stay here. But how do you answer the question: Where are you from? In my case, I answer by saying that I am from Belgium but live in Germany. P. answers the same way. But what about our kids? They are not from Belgium. They are not from Sweden. They are essentially from Germany.

Blueberries on black background

I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately. How will our kids deal with all of this? What sort of questions will they ask when they are older? What nationality will they take when they turn 18 and have to choose? How will they give Belgium, Sweden and Northern Ireland a place in their life? In their being? Who will they be and how will they define themselves?

Whatever the answers, we will give them the freedom to search and find their way. Their roots might be growing in German soil, but their heritage, their seeds of life, that has come from 3 beautiful and inspiring places.

P. and I wil make sure they know about their heritage. And part of this heritage for me personally is food. And not just the national dishes, but the simple tomato soup Oma (grandmother in Belgium) makes or the lobster thermidor Farfar (grandfather in Sweden) cooks on special occasions.

This week’s recipe is a Swedish sticky (Kladd) cake (kaka). It’s easy and requires just 1 bowl and something to mix the batter with. I bet you my nearly 4 year old could do this. So let the lesson “this is your heritage” begin…

kladdkaka with bowl of cream and bowl of blueberries

 Swedish sticky chocolate cake – Kladdkaka

Serves 8

Ingredients:

2 eggs

270g sugar

60g flour

1 tsp vanilla sugar

2 heaped tbsp unsweetened cocoa

100g melted butter

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Grease and flour a round springform tin (important!).

2. In a bowl, use a handmixer or whisk to mix all the ingredients together until the mixture is smooth.

3. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for  30 minutes.

4. Let the cake cool in the tin.

5. When ready to serve, remove the springform side. Do not attempt to remove the cake from the bottom of the tin, it is too sticky and fudge-like. Use a cake cutter (preferably one that won’t scratch your tin) to cut and scrape/lift a piece of the cake. It will come loose, it’s just nice and sticky.

6. Serve with some vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, berries, toasted nuts or sliced, fresh fruit

ENJOY!

 blueberries rolling out of bowl

Easter – what we did

Some of you already know that we don’t live a Monday to Friday, 9-5 kind of life. Sure, the kids and I do to a certain degree, but my pilot husband-to-be does not. His schedule doesn’t take into account holidays, celebrations and weekends. But we are used to it. It’s our life and there are some great perks that come with this lifestyle.

So what to do come Easter weekend when most people are out of town visiting grandparents or taking a well deserved family holiday? What to do when P. is hanging about the European skies and the kids are shouting “I want to go outside!” at 7 in the morning? You take your iPad, that’s what you do. You skip the Lego Train building game and the Youtube app and you go straight to 2 of my new favourite blogs. Thanks for your help in keeping us entertained this Easter weekend Isa and Claudia at Hauptstadtmutti and Jenni at Museum Diary.

On Good Friday we made and ate a lot of marshmallow top hats. You will find the recipe here. They are perfect for little people with little fingers.

child's hand putting smart on top of marshmallow

On Saturday the sky was blue and the sun was out and it felt like spring was finally on the way. I love our street on days like these. The fountains are back on now that winter is over and the trees will soon be full of luscious green leaves. Oh, and this is where my daughter will grasp the art of cycling a “big” bike.

Frankfurter Alee

Happy Easter! We hunted for easter eggs and made this fresh, pink rhubarb juice. I got the recipe from the ladies at Haupstadtmutti. I can only recommend drinking lots of this home-made juice because it is simply the best. I’m pretty sure this is going to be a staple in our house this spring and definitely this summer. You’ll find an english translation at the bottom of this post.

Rhubarb juice in carafe view from above

On Monday I took 2 overly excited kids on 2 subway trains (the fact that we needed to take 2 different ones was a big deal) to the Berlin Currywurst Museum near Checkpoint Charlie. So it’s not the MoMa or Tate but it was the perfect place for us on Easter Monday. The highlight was smelling and looking at all the spices. And the fact that apart from another family we were the only ones there (we arrived as they opened) and the kids could run around without getting in any one’s way. If ever in doubt about going to museums with your kids, read this article by Jenni.

Currywurst museum Berlin looking at ginger

I hope you had a lovely easter weekend.

LIES X

English translation of Rhubarb Juice as featured on Hauptstadtmutti (original recipe by Marie Langenau)

1 kg fresh rhubarb

400g sugar

juice of 2 lemons

Wash the rhubarb thoroughly making sure all the dirt is gone. Peal and chop into 2-3cm chunks. Place the rhubarb in a pot with 2 litres water and let it all boil for about 15 minutes. Strain the juice into a second pot. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Pour the juice in 2 clean bottles.

Baking with kids – Top hats

 

top hat sweet with yellow smartie

The Top hat. If it hadn’t been for my daughter I don’t think I would ever have come across these treats. Backtrack 2 years and we were still living the countryside-life in beautiful Northern Ireland. My daughter was 18 months and our son was just born. Two days a week, S. would happily trot up the street to her nursery. Some days she would come home with a painting or some sort of art project, but now and again she would present us with something that resembled a cookie or cupcake. I’m sure it took every last bit of her concentration to put the sprinkles on top of the icing. Or place the raisin in the exact spot she wanted it. It was always nearly a shame to eat her creations.

child's hand putting smart on top of marshmallow

So one day she came home with one of these cute sweets. A top hat. And all it really is, is marshmallow, chocolate and smarties. And they are so easy to make. She helped make them when she was 18 months and now my 2 year old son is also loving making these fluffy creations. The perfect young toddler’s “baking” project.

child's hand picking smarties

Baking with kids – Top Hats

20 mini cupcake cases

100gr melted chocolate

20 big marshmallows to make top hats

(more marshmallows to taste, poke and pull apart)

20 coloured smarties

(more smarties to eat, spill and lick before sticking on the top hats)

Method

1. Melt the chocolate (parents or older kids). I prefer to melt my chocolate in a glass, heatproof bowl set on top of a saucepan with about 3 cm (1 inch) of simmering water. I take the bowl off the pan (careful, it’ll be hot) when nearly all the chocolate is melted. I then stir to melt the remainder. Set the bowl to one side to cool slightly while you and the kids get the cupcake cases ready.

2. Spoon 2-3 tbsp of melted chocolate into the cupcake cases.

3. Put a marshmallow in the middle of the chocolate filled cupcake case.

4. Use a teaspoon to put a generous drop of melted chocolate on top of the marshmallow and stick a smartie on.

5. Put all the top hats on a tray and put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes so the chocolate cools and becomes solid again.

6. Taste and have lots of wipes/wet cloth/napkins ready because the chocolate will leave its mark.

As with all my recipes for baking with kids, have a look at my tips and tricks. In the end, you know your child best and what her or his abilities are. The important thing is to let them try things and to have fun.

Enjoy!

making top hats

Baking with kids: R.O.C. (raisins, oatmeal, coconut) cookies

Do you sometimes feel like time is running away and you are desperately trying to catch up with it? That’s how I have been feeling these last few weeks. It was my 3 year old daughter that reminded me last Saturday that we hadn’t baked anything yet. She came running into the kitchen looking very disappointed and worried and said: “Mama, we still need to bake today!” I then heard a nearly 2 year old son run from the far end of our apartment to the kitchen screaming: “JAAAAAAA, BAKA!!” which is Swedish for “YEEEEEES, BAKE!!” And so we did…

Cookies in dish

I admit, I did have a panic moment as they opened up the kitchen cupboard and took out their aprons. I hadn’t planned anything. I didn’t have a recipe. What on earth were we going to make? Turns out, we ‘invented’ R(raisins) O(oatmeal) C(coconut) cookies (and they kind of look like rocks too).

Three cookies on a white napkin

These are the kind of cookies you literally throw together. Everything goes in one pot. And then you hand the little ones a wooden spoon and let them get on with it. Although, I used my stand mixer and I let them take turns in throwing the ingredients in the bowl (pouring is for adults in case you didn’t know).

One cookie

Tadah! One golden nugget of goodness. Perfect for little hands and no refined sugar. The sweetness comes from the raisins and the agave or honey used. These are so easy and quick to make and so much better and healthier than anything bought in the shop.

Several cookies

Let the kids roll the balls. Or if your child is still too young for this skill, roll the balls yourself and let them place the cookies on the baking tray.

R.O.C. Cookies

(makes 20)

1/2 cup almond meal (about 8 tbsp)

1 cup oats (about 16 tbsp)

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp soft, unrefined coconut oil

1 egg, whisked

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins (about 8 tbsp)

2 tbsp agave nectar or honey

Method:

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix with a wooden spoon until well incorporated. If using a stand mixer, use the paddle and a low speed.

Makes 20 little balls with about a tbsp or 2 of cookies mixture.

Put the cookie balls on a lined baking tray. If you want flat cookies, press down lightly to form small, thick discs.

Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Cool on a wire rack.

Enjoy!

You can make this recipe gluten free by using gluten free oats and substituting baking powder for 1 part baking soda plus 2 parts cream of tartar.

Cookies surrounded by toys

Baking with Kids: Cupcakes

It’s been one of those weeks where I can’t seem to get organised. There are a million things I need to do but there are definitely not a million hours in the day… or week… or month. I like making lists and I did have one for this first week back to work after the new year, but for some reason nothing on that list got done.

I was also home alone with the kids for 4 days because P. (my pilot-husband-to-be) was in London for work. Which means there is very little, if no time at all to get anything done apart from maybe moving one stack of washing from the kitchen to the bedroom (to be placed on the bed of course, not in the wardrobe).

But it was a good week in other ways. I took my 3 year old daughter to the Alte Gemäldegalerie here in Berlin for an exhibition especially for kids. I loved how the old paintings fascinated her. And my nearly 2 year old son started pointing towards my bowls and shouting “bake!”. So we did.

Check out my tips on baking with kids here.

IMG_2910

I used my mother’s apple cake recipe to make these but reduced the amount of sugar and left out the apples.

IMG_2898

Two days later I still had sprinkles stuck to my socks.

IMG_2891

 

Baking with kids – Cupcakes

(makes 6-8 cupcakes)

100g butter, softened

100g plain flour or self raising flour

1 tbsp baking powder (leave out if using self raising flour)

60g sugar

2 eggs

Sprinkles, chopped up m&m’s, small sweets, etc.

125g icing sugar

several tbsp powdered sugar

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (older kids can do this themselves).

Put cupcake cases in a muffin tray (even little hands can do this).

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy using a handheld mixer. Add the eggs and continue mixing (Depending on their ages, kids can either watch, help hold the mixer or mix themselves).

Using a wooden spoon, add the flour and baking powder/self raising flour and mix until you have a smooth batter (be sure to mix it yourself one last time to make sure everything is well incorporated).

Fill the cupcake cases 3/4 full (this can get messy but that’s part of the process. Smaller kids might have trouble getting the aim right so they might need some help).

Put the tray in the oven and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (older kids can, under parent supervision, try doing this themselves).

Leave to cool on a wire rack. You can put the in the fridge for 10 minutes to speed up the process. In the mean time, make the icing and get the sprinkles, sweets, etc. ready in small bowls.

To make the icing, sift the powdered sugar in a bowl and add a tbsp of water at a time. Mix by hand or with a handheld mixer and check the consistency. Keep adding water if it is too thick. Add some more powdered sugar if it is too runny (again, depending on their ages, kids can either watch, help hold the mixer or mix themselves).

Decorate!

IMG_2904

Enjoy!

Be sure to always supervise you kids when baking. 

(Baking with kids is a spontaneous affair. My photo’s reflect that.)