ATK Kids

Kitchen Classroom: Week 38

Week 38 of resources to help kids learn in the kitchen—and make something delicious along the way.

Published Nov. 27, 2020.

Welcome to week 38 of Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly list of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, hands-on experiments, and activities paired with suggestions for how to bring learning to life in the kitchen. 

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This week, kids can practice their math conversion skills as they make crispy Roasted Fingerling Potatoes; discover the science behind what gives our Chocolate Crinkle Cookies their signature texture; blend up a big batch of DIY Hot Cocoa Mix to sip all winter long or to give away as holiday gifts; and explore how vegetables transform into pickles while making Rice Noodle Bowls with Pork and Scallions for family lunch or dinner.

Don’t forget to share what your family makes by tagging @testkitchenkids or using #atkkids on Instagram, or by sending photos to Visit the America’s Test Kitchen Kids website for more culinary content designed especially for kids, plus all of the Kitchen Classroom content in one easy-to-scan location. 

Here’s what’s cooking for the week of November 30th through December 6th.

From left: Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes

Who needs French fries when you can have these crispy roasted potatoes as a simple, tasty side dish? Kids will slice small fingerling potatoes in half lengthwise before tossing them with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roasting them in the oven. Kids can practice their math conversion skills between pounds and ounces while the potatoes bake.

What You’ll Need
2 pounds fingerling or small red potatoes
2 tablespoons extra-­virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Learning Moment
Math (Measurement, Addition, Multiplication, Division):
Explain to your young chefs that when cooking, we sometimes weigh ingredients using a scale to make sure we have the amount we need for a recipe. In the United States, weight is usually measured in pounds and ounces. Tell kids that 1 pound equals 16 ounces. Ask kids: How many pounds of fingerling potatoes does this recipe call for? (Answer: 2 pounds.) Challenge kids to convert that number of pounds into ounces to discover how many ounces of potatoes they’ll need for this recipe. If they need a hint, tell them they can use addition or multiplication. (Answer: 16 ounces + 16 ounces = 32 ounces or 16 x 2 = 32)

While the potatoes roast in step 5, challenge your young chef to solve the following word problems:

  • Imagine that there are 4 people eating these potatoes. If each person is given an equal portion of potatoes, how many ounces would each serving be?
    (Answer: 32 ounces ÷ 4 people = 8 ounces) 
  • Imagine you and your family ate half of the potatoes, and saved the other half for dinner the following day. How many ounces of potatoes are left for the following day?
    (Answer: 32 ounces ÷ 2 = 16 ounces left for the following day)
  • If there are 4 people eating the leftover potatoes, how many ounces of potatoes will each person have the following day?
    (Answer: 16 ounces ÷ 4 people = 4 ounces per person)
  • You decide to make a double batch of these roasted potatoes. How many potatoes will you need in order to make a double batch, in pounds and in ounces?
    (Answer: 2 pounds potatoes x 2 batches = 4 pounds; 4 pounds x 16 ounces = 64 ounces)
  • For your double batch, how much olive oil will you need? How much salt? How much pepper?
    (Answer: 2 tablespoons olive oil x 2 = 4 tablespoons; ½ teaspoon salt x 2 = 1 teaspoon; ¼ teaspoon pepper = ½ teaspoon)

Bonus! If your young chef has studied long division, ask them how many ounces of potatoes each person would eat if there were 6 people sharing a single batch of potatoes. (32 ounces ÷ 6 people = 5⅓ ounces or approximately 5.3 ounces)

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

Kids can make a batch of these cookies as a treat for the family or to share as holiday gifts! These cookies are also known as “earthquakes” because of the dark, chocolaty fissures and cracks that appear after baking. While the cookies cool, kids will observe the results of a quick science experiment that explores how the cookies get their namesake crinkly texture.

What You’ll Need
½ cup (2½ ounces) all-­purpose flour
¼ cup (¾ ounce) Dutch-­processed cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
⅛ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup packed (5¼ ounces) brown sugar
1large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup (1¾ ounces) sugar
¼ cup (1 ounce) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

Learning Moment 
Physical Science (Structure and Properties of Matter):
Explain to kids that crinkle cookies get their name from the deep cracks and crevices found on their surfaces. To see how these crinkles form, have kids set aside one dough ball after shaping and rolling in step 7, and do not roll it in either of the sugars. Bake the uncoated cookie along with the others in step 9. While the cookies are in the oven, have kids make a prediction: Which cookies will crinkle more, the ones coated with sugar or without? When the cookies have cooled in step 10, have kids observe the plain cookie and compare it to the cookies rolled in sugar. Ask kids: Which cookie has more crinkles? (They should see that the cookies coated in sugar have more and deeper cracks and crinkles.) 

Explain to kids that sugar is the key to these cookies’ cracks and fissures. Sugar is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs moisture. The sugar on the outside of the cookie dough pulls moisture out from the inside of the cookie, helping to make the cookies more dry. Drier cookies will crack or crinkle more on their surfaces than moist ones as they bake in the oven. 

Take it Further 
English Language Arts (Writing):
These cookies are also sometimes called "chocolate earthquake cookies" because they resemble what the ground can look like after an earthquake. Ask kids: What other name could you invent for these cookies? Do they remind you of anything visually? What new names can you think of for some other types of cookies you know and love, based on how they look? 

From left: DIY Hot Cocoa Mix, Rice Noodle Bowls with Pork and Scallions

DIY Hot Cocoa Mix

Having a big jar of this DIY Hot Cocoa Mix at the ready will help keep the whole family warm and cozy all winter long. Kids can also divide up and package their mix as festive holiday gifts! As they blend up their cocoa mix, kids will learn where its creaminess comes from. 

What You’ll Need
1½ cups nonfat dry milk powder
1 cup confectioners' (powdered) sugar
¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
¾ cup white chocolate chips
⅛ teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (per serving)
Whipped cream (optional)
Mini marshmallows (optional)

Learning Moment
Physical Science (Structure and Properties of Matter):
As you prepare the ingredients for this recipe, ask kids: Have you used or seen dry milk powder before? What do you think it is? Before adding it to the food processor in step 1, have kids observe the dry milk powder and taste a little bit, if they like. What does it look like, feel like, smell like, or taste like?

Explain to kids that dry milk powder is just what it sounds like: milk that has been dried! To make dry milk powder, manufacturers heat milk in tanks until all of the water inside evaporates, leaving behind a dry powder of milk solids made of proteins, sugars, and sometimes fat. Normally, you have to keep liquid milk at a cool temperature in the refrigerator to prevent harmful bacteria from growing, and use it fairly quickly before it goes bad. Powdered milk, on the other hand, can be kept safely at room temperature for months or even years. It can be used dry in recipes to add extra creaminess or milky flavor to food (like in this hot cocoa mix), or it can be mixed with water to be turned back into liquid milk when you need it.

If kids would like to see this in action, have them follow the directions on the dry milk powder package to make 1 cup of milk. If you have regular milk on hand, pour some of that into a glass as well for kids to compare to. Have kids taste the rehydrated milk made from the dry milk powder. How does it seem the same or different from regular milk? When might having dry milk powder on hand be helpful? (Some ideas: when camping, when the power goes out and your fridge isn’t working, if you live far away from a grocery store, if you live in a very hot climate, etc.)

Take It Further
Math (Addition, Multiplication, Division)
This hot cocoa mix is a perfect gift for kids to package up and give away at the holidays. Ask kids to look at the recipe to see how many servings the total batch of cocoa mix makes. (Answer: 10 servings.) How much mix does someone need to make 1 serving of cocoa? (Hint: Look at step 3 of the recipe. Answer: ⅓ cup.) Based on this, ask kids:

  • Who might you like to give this cocoa mix away to? 
  • Would you like to give each person an individual serving, or enough to make a few mugs of cocoa?
  • With that in mind, how many packages of cocoa do you need to make, with how much mix in each?
    (For example, if kids want to give individual servings away, they could make 10 packages with ⅓ cup mix each. If they’d like to give away bigger batches, they could make 2 packages with 1⅓ cups mix each [⅓ cup x 4], with 2 servings left over, etc.)

Once they know how many sets of mix they’d like to give away, kids will need to choose a package that’s the right size for their gift—a jar with a tight-fitting lid works well for multiple servings, or a cellophane treat bag tied with a twist tie works well for 1 serving. Have kids use a ⅓-cup dry measuring cup to measure out the servings of mix they need into each container. Then, kids can decorate their containers with ribbons, bows, and/or stickers. For an extra treat, kids could also include marshmallows or a candy cane with their cocoa mix. Once their packages are put together, kids can write out the directions for how to make 1 mug of cocoa (copied from step 3 of the recipe) on a card or gift tag so their recipients will know how to use the mix. 

Rice Noodle Bowls with Pork and Scallions

Young chefs will feel proud to serve these photo-worthy noodle bowls that are packed with flavor and sure to impress their family and friends. If you can’t find Persian cucumbers, use half an English cucumber instead. Set aside one or two cucumber slices to use in the Learning Moment, below. 

What You’ll Need
2 Persian cucumbers
2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar
8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, measured separately
12 ounces ground pork
2 scallions, sliced thin
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Learning Moment
Physical Science (Structure and Properties of Matter):
In steps 1 and 2 of this recipe, kids make a batch of quick-pickled cucumbers—they toss sliced cucumbers with seasoned rice vinegar and let the mixture sit while preparing the rest of the recipe. As they’re preparing their quick pickles, first have kids set aside one or two cucumber slices and do not place them in the vinegar. Then, ask kids to share what they already know about pickles and how they are made. 

Explain that pickles are vegetables or fruits that are preserved (treated so that they last longer before spoiling). There are different ways to make pickles, but the fastest method is to make quick pickles—also known as “quickles.” To make quick pickles you first prep your produce, usually by slicing or chopping. Then, you pour a brine over the veggies and let them sit for a while. The brine is usually made from vinegar, salt, sugar, and sometimes spices to add flavor. In this recipe, we use seasoned rice vinegar, which is rice vinegar that’s already been mixed with salt and sugar. 

The quick-pickling process changes the vegetable’s flavor and texture. Once the quick-pickled cucumbers are ready, have kids look at and taste slices of plain cucumber followed by slices of pickled cucumber. What do they notice about the flavor and the texture? How are they similar? How are they different? The acidic brine gives the vegetables a tart, sour flavor and it also softens their texture a bit—they’re still crunchy, but not as crunchy as the raw cucumbers.

You can quick-pickle lots of other fruits and vegetables, such as sliced carrots or cabbage. Ask kids what other vegetables they might like to turn into quickles. For another tasty quick pickle recipe, kids can also try out making our Pickled Red Onions.

The December edition of the Young Chefs’ Club celebrates one of America’s most popular foods: PIZZA! With recipes from Thin-Crust Pizza to Tear-and-Share Pepperoni Pizza Rolls to French Bread Pizza and even Pizza Art (yes, Pizza Art!) there’s something for every pizza lover out there. Learn more about the science of pizza dough in a “restful” experiment and play the pizza-party classic Pin the Topping on the Pizza! If you’d like to order the Young Chefs’ Club for the budding cook this holiday season, place your order by November 30th in order to receive your first box in December.  
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