ATK Kids

Kitchen Classroom 2021: Week 10

Resources to help kids learn in the kitchen—and make something delicious along the way.

Published Mar. 5, 2021.

Welcome to week 10 of Kitchen Classroom 2021, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly kid-tested and kid-approved recipe, hands-on experiment, or activity paired with a “Learning Moment” that brings learning to life in the kitchen.

We want to hear how Kitchen Classroom is working for you and your family and what you’d like to see in future weeks. Please click this link to complete a short survey about Kitchen Classroom. After completing the survey, you’ll receive a coupon for 10 percent off at the America’s Test Kitchen Shop (restrictions apply).  
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This week’s Kitchen Classroom is a Weekend Project! Kids and family members can work together to fill, shape, and bake a batch of Empanadas de Piña y Coco (Pineapple-Coconut Empanadas), a sweet treat inspired by empanadas from Mexico. Sealing the empanadas with a twisted repulgue (“reh-PULL-gay”) edge is a fun hands-on technique for kids to try and keeps the filling from spilling out in the oven. As their empanadas bake and cool, kids can practice their math skills by tackling some empanada-based word problems in this week’s Learning Moment, and can try out a sweet taste test with Take It Further.

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 March 8th through 14th, 2021.

Empanadas de Piña y Coco (Pineapple-Coconut Empanadas)

Weekend Project: Empanadas de Piña y Coco

These sweet hand pies are packed with tropical flavor. Pineapple and coconut are tucked inside an easy-to-shape dough and baked into a handheld dessert. Kids can make their own Empanada Dough or use store-bought empanada rounds for a simpler project (look for them in the freezer section). We prefer fresh pineapple in this recipe, but you can also use frozen (use 20 ounces of frozen chunks and thaw before chopping into ½-inch pieces).

What You’ll Need
4 cups (20 ounces) ½-inch pineapple pieces
1 cup packed (7 ounces) dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice, squeezed from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons water, plus extra for brushing dough
4 teaspoons cornstarch
⅓ cup unsweetened flaked or shredded coconut
All-purpose flour (for sprinkling on counter)
1 recipe Empanada Dough or 12 (4½-inch) store-bought hojaldradas-style empanada dough rounds, thawed
1 large egg, cracked into bowl and lightly beaten with fork
1 teaspoon sugar

Learning Moment
Math (Multiplication, Division):
This recipe makes 12 empanadas. While their empanadas are baking and cooling, challenge kids to put their math skills to the test with these word problems about making more or fewer empanadas. For all of the problems below, kids should assume that each person eats 2 empanadas.

  • If you want to make enough empanadas for 8 people, how many empanadas will you need to make?
    (Answer: 2 empanadas x 8 people = 16 empanadas)
  • If you cut this recipe in half, how many empanadas would you make? How many ounces of pineapple will you need?
    (Answer: 12 empanadas ÷ 2 = 6 empanadas; 20 ounces pineapple ÷ 2 = 10 ounces)
  • If you want to make enough empanadas for 36 people, how many empanadas will you need to make? How many batches of 12 empanadas will you need to bake? How much cornstarch will you need?
    (Answer: 2 empanadas x 36 people = 72 empanadas; 72 empanadas ÷ 12 empanadas per batch = 6 batches; 4 teaspoons cornstarch x 6 batches = 24 teaspoons cornstarch)
  • Bonus Question! There are 3 teaspoons in 1 tablespoon. Using your answer from the last question, how many tablespoons of cornstarch will you need to make empanadas for 36 people?
    (Answer: 24 teaspoons cornstarch ÷ 3 teaspoons per tablespoon = 8 tablespoons cornstarch)

Take It Further
Science (Sensory Science, Planning and Carrying Out Investigations):
Share with kids that sweet empanadas are enjoyed all across Latin America and can be filled with many different ingredients. In Mexico, baked goods are often sweetened with piloncillo (“pee-lohn-CHEE-lo”) sugar, which is made from the juice of sugarcane plants (see the “Food for Thought” section at the end of the recipe for more information). Ask kids: What other sweeteners have you seen in baking recipes? (Answers: white granulated sugar, brown sugar, molasses, honey, agave, etc.)

If you have white sugar, brown sugar, and molasses on hand, challenge kids to a taste test: Can they taste the difference between these three common sweeteners? Before starting the taste test, ask kids to make a prediction: Do they think the white sugar, brown sugar, and molasses will taste the same or different from each other? Why do they think so? 

Follow these steps to set up your taste test:

  • Blindfold all taste testers (kids and any other family members who would like to participate!).
  • Give each taste tester a small amount of white sugar in a small bowl and ask them to smell, touch, and then taste it. How would they describe the sugar’s smell, flavor, and texture?
  • Repeat with light or dark brown sugar and molasses. 
  • Ask tasters if they have any guesses about which sample was white sugar? Which was brown sugar? Which was molasses?
  • Have tasters remove their blindfolds to see if their guesses were correct.
  • Explain to kids that brown sugar is actually just white sugar combined with molasses. Dark brown sugar contains more molasses than light brown sugar. 
  • Challenge kids to see if they can get close to matching the flavor of brown sugar by mixing molasses and white sugar together. Have kids add a small amount of molasses to some white sugar in a small bowl and stir to combine them. 
  • Have kids taste their creation. How close is it in flavor to brown sugar? Can kids get closer by adding more molasses or more white sugar?

The April edition of the Young Chefs’ Club dives into how ALL of our senses—taste, smell, sight, touch, and hearing—play a role in how we experience the flavor of food. Kids will use their ears as they make Stovetop Popcorn and their noses as they bake Browned Butter Blondies. They’ll experience their sense of touch in a supercool way when eating Spicy Noodles with Pork and Sichuan Peppercorns (the peppercorns are included in your box). They will dive into their sense of taste by trying a miracle berry tablet (also in your box), which makes everything sour taste sweet, temporarily. And they’ll explore the science of sight in a top secret taste test. This box is on sale through March 31st and will arrive on doorsteps in April.  
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