ATK Kids
Kitchen Classroom: Week 40
Week 40 of resources to help kids learn in the kitchen—and make something delicious along the way.
12-11-2020
America's Test Kitchen Kids

Welcome to week 40 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.

Kids Bake Cookies For Good

#CookiesFromKids

This holiday season, America's Test Kitchen Kids is asking kids to bake cookies to send to whoever they think needs a little joy in their life. Adults can take a picture and tag @testkitchenkids on Instagram with the hashtag #CookiesFromKids to participate in this sweet campaign, and we'll donate $1 for every photo posted in the month of December. 

 

This week, kids can discover what gives mint its special cooling effect as they swirl together a batch of festive Peppermint Bark; create an original story about Soft and Chewy Gingerbread People; conduct an experiment to learn how to make the smoothest salad dressing in Amazing Emulsions and Baby Spinach Salad with Veggies; and practice calculating combinations while making Cheese Quesadillas for a quick and easy snack.

Don’t forget to share what your family makes by tagging @testkitchenkids or using #atkkids on Instagram, or by sending photos to kids@americastestkitchen.com. 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 December 14th through 20th.

From left: Peppermint Bark, Soft and Chewy Gingerbread People

Peppermint Bark

In this recipe designed for young chefs ages 5 to 8, kids get to smash, stir, layer, swirl, and sprinkle as they make this festive holiday dessert. Set aside an extra candy cane or peppermint candy for the Learning Moment, below. A package of Peppermint Bark also makes for a sweet holiday gift—pack it in small jars or airtight containers and keep it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to give it away. 
[GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need
18 mini candy canes or 6 large candy canes or 20 peppermint candies
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups (12 ounces) white chocolate chips

Learning Moment
Physical Science (Chemical Reactions):
Have kids eat the piece of candy cane or peppermint candy you set aside earlier (grown-ups, you can eat some, too!). Ask kids to tell you what it tastes like and what it feels like in their mouth—if they don’t bring it up, share that the candy makes your mouth feel cold, even though the candy cane or peppermint candy wasn’t in the refrigerator!

Explain to kids that there is some pretty cool (get it?) science behind this. A microscopic (VERY, very tiny) compound found in mint, called menthol, fits into certain (also VERY tiny) receptors in your mouth—kind of like two puzzle pieces fitting together. These are the same receptors that tell your brain that you are eating something very cold. The menthol tricks your brain into thinking that you’re eating something very cold, even if what you’re eating isn’t cold at all! 

Ask kids if they can think of any other mint-flavored foods, such as Thin Mint cookies, mint-chocolate chip ice cream, fresh mint leaves, and even mint toothpaste (don’t eat that one!). If you have them in the house, give them a taste. Do they feel cold in your mouth? (Be sure to give your tastebuds a break between each food to let them “reset.”) 

Soft and Chewy Gingerbread People

Sweet and spiced gingerbread cookies are a holiday classic, and are fun for kids to decorate using a simple glaze. (You can find our recipe for Spreadable Glaze in the “Food for Thought” section at the bottom of the recipe page.) While your young chefs’ cookies are cooling, set up a decorating station with the glaze and toppings such as sprinkles or candy, and encourage them to create an original story about the lives and adventures of their gingerbread people (see the Learning Moment, below). 

[GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need
For the Cookies:
1½ cups (7½ ounces) all-­purpose flour
½ cup packed (3½ ounces) dark brown sugar
1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1½ teaspoons ground ginger
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
⅓ cup molasses
1 tablespoon (½ ounce) milk

For the Glaze:
1⅓ cups (5⅓ ounces) confectioners' (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon cream cheese, softened
1-2 drops food coloring (optional)
Sprinkles or sanding sugar (optional)

Learning Moment
English Language Arts (Writing and Storytelling):
With their faces and clothes drawn on with icing, it’s easy to imagine gingerbread people coming to life. There’s even a famous short story from 1875 called “The Gingerbread Boy” that’s still read and retold today. (Click here for a short animated version of the story, or here for a written version.) Before starting to bake, ask your young chef to watch or read the story. While they’re baking their own gingerbread people, ask your young chef to imagine what kind of adventure their gingerbread people might go on if they came to life. 

Then, while your young chef enjoys a cookie, ask them to create a story about their gingerbread people. Remind them that every story has a beginning, middle, and end. Younger chefs can draw pictures to tell their story instead of writing it or tell you their story aloud. If your young chef is a writer, ask them to write down their story in 3 paragraphs, or about 12 to15 sentences. They can create their own original story, or use the story starter below.

Jin Jerbred had lived in Ginger Village all their life. All their friends were gingerbread people, their house was made of gingerbread, and they even had a gingerbread cat named Gumdrop. Jin was happy there, but sometimes they couldn’t help but wonder what the world was like outside Ginger Village. “Do you ever feel like there might be more to life than gingerbread?” they asked Gumdrop one December night. Just then, Jin noticed a gigantic, human person peeking in through the icing window. “Jumping gingersnaps! Who are you?” Jin exclaimed. 

Now it’s your turn! Write the middle and end of the story.

From Left: Amazing Emulsions, Baby Spinach Salad with Veggies, Cheese Quesadillas

Amazing Emulsions & Baby Spinach Salad with Veggies

In this experiment, kids will learn how ingredients that contain special molecules called emulsifiers are the key to getting two substances that don’t ordinarily mix—like oil and vinegar—to play nicely together. They’ll shake up some small jars of vinaigrette salad dressing and observe how long it takes the mixed oil and vinegar to separate. (We recommend putting on your favorite tunes and having a dressing dance party!) 
[GET THE EXPERIMENT]

Since they’ve got a bunch of salad dressing on hand (it keeps in the refrigerator for up to 1 week), kids can make their own Baby Spinach Salad with Veggies. The recipe calls for baby spinach, carrots, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes, but feel free to swap in whatever lettuce and veggies you have on hand.
[GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need: Amazing Emulsions 
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mayonnaise
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Table salt and pepper

What You’ll Need: Baby Spinach Salad with Veggies
3 cups baby spinach
12 cherry tomatoes
1 small carrot
1 small cucumber
2 tablespoons vinaigrette dressing (from Amazing Emulsions experiment)

Learning Moment
Physical Science (Chemical Reactions):
In this experiment, kids observe that oil and water (in the form of vinegar) don’t easily mix without the help of special molecules called emulsifiers. The kid-friendly explanation at the end of the experiment breaks down the chemistry of why oil and water don’t mix in the first place and how emulsifiers—molecules that bridge the gap between two substances that don’t normally mix—help prevent oil and water from separating once they’re mixed. Throughout the experiment, kids can also practice making predictions, making observations, keeping track of time (they observe their mixtures every 15 minutes), and analyzing their data. 

Take It Further
Physical Science (Chemical Reactions):
For a fun explanation of how emulsions in vinaigrettes work, listen to Week Two, Episode One: Opposites Don’t Attract from Season 2 of the America’s Test Kitchen Kids podcast Mystery Recipe! Meet the hit duo “Vinaigrette” about 11 minutes and 30 seconds into the episode to hear how they work together (or listen to the whole episode to learn more about vegetable oil, too!).

Cheese Quesadillas

These quick quesadillas are perfect for a light lunch or snack. Kids can customize their quesadilla by adding 2 tablespoons total of add-ins, such as: chopped tomatoes, chopped scallions, drained black or pinto beans, chopped cilantro, minced pickled jalapeños, canned chopped green chiles, or leftover shredded cooked chicken. Sprinkle the add-­in ingredients over one half of each tortilla after you add the cheese in step 1. Kids can enjoy their quesadillas with guacamole, sour cream, or salsa and practice their math skills by seeing how many quesadilla combinations they can make with different numbers of tortillas and fillings. 
[GET THE RECIPE]

What You’ll Need
2 (8-inch) flour tortillas
⅔ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Fillings of your choice (see above)
4 teaspoons vegetable oil

Learning Moment
Math (Patterns):
Making quesadillas is a great opportunity for kids to get creative in the kitchen and customize their snack with whatever add-ins they choose. Challenge kids to use their math skills to calculate how many flavor combinations they can make using the word problems, below.

  • If you have 2 different types of tortillas (white and whole-wheat) and 2 different add-ins (tomatoes and beans), how many different quesadilla combinations can you make, if each quesadilla has 1 add-in? (Answer 2² = 2 tortilla types x 2 add-ins = 4 combinations)
 

White Tortilla

Whole-Wheat Tortilla

Tomatoes

Tomatoes + White Tortilla

Tomatoes + Wheat Tortilla

Beans

Beans + White Tortilla

Beans + Wheat Tortilla

 

  • If you have 3 different types of tortillas (white, whole-wheat, and corn) and 3 different add-ins (tomatoes, beans, and chicken), how many different quesadilla combinations can you make, if each has 1 add-in? (Answer: 3³ = 3 tortilla types x 3 add-ins = 9 combinations)
 

White Tortilla

Whole-Wheat Tortilla

Corn Tortilla

Tomatoes

Tomatoes + White Tortilla

Tomatoes + Wheat Tortilla

Tomatoes + Corn Tortilla

Beans

Beans + White Tortilla

Beans + Wheat Tortilla

Beans + Corn Tortilla

Chicken

Chicken + White Tortilla

Chicken + Wheat Tortilla

Chicken + Corn Tortilla

 

  • If you have 4 different types of tortillas (white, whole-wheat, corn, and spinach) and 4 different add-ins (tomatoes, beans, chicken, and cilantro), how many different quesadilla combinations can you make, if each has 1 add-in? (Answer: 4⁴ = 4 tortilla types x 4 add-ins = 16 combinations)
 

White Tortilla

Whole-Wheat Tortilla

Corn Tortilla

Spinach Tortilla

Tomatoes

Tomatoes + White Tortilla

Tomatoes + Wheat Tortilla

Tomatoes + Corn Tortilla

Tomatoes + Spinach Tortilla

Beans

Beans + White Tortilla

Beans + Wheat Tortilla

Beans + Corn Tortilla

Beans + Spinach Tortilla

Chicken

Chicken + White Tortilla

Chicken + Wheat Tortilla

Chicken + Corn Tortilla

Chicken + Spinach Tortilla

Cilantro

Cilantro + White Tortilla

Cilantro + Wheat Tortilla

Cilantro + Corn Tortilla

Cilantro + Spinach Tortilla

Join the Club

On sale throughout the month of December, the January edition of the Young Chefs’ Club is an introduction to the wide world of dumplings. Kids will travel to China while making Guotie (Pot Stickers), visit Argentina and Mexico while making sweet and savory empanadas, and visit Poland (by way of Pittsburgh) while making potato and cheddar pierogi. Kids can discover dumplings from around the world in our fold-out poster and use them to inspire their own miniature, decoratable dumpling sculptures.