Baking with Toddlers

I love to bake, and I really love to involve Sous Chef with me whenever I can. I think it’s good practice for her; she’s learning important life skills, like measuring and mixing ingredients, she’s developing hand-eye coordination and motor skills, and it’s a mother-daughter activity to boot. She already knows that to measure flour, we first stir it with a spoon to aerate it (no, she doesn’t know the word aerate yet), and then we level it off with a knife. Sometimes it’s easier to involve her than others; brownies that require melting sugar and butter and chocolate on the stove aren’t exactly toddler friendly, but cookies are, as long as she can remember to keep her hands out of the mixer while it’s running!

Today, I was really craving baked goods. When life is hard, (as it so often is with a toddler underfoot) I turn to baked goods. Home-baked are the most satisfying, but I’ll even turn to oreos if that’s all I have on hand (which is rare, since I don’t actually buy oreos). Luckily, I keep bags of chocolate chips on hand, so I can bake whenever I get the urge. Maybe that’s not lucky…it would be better for my heart and my waistline if I had to plan ahead to bake cookies. But it’s good for my mental health, right? Since I was ready to pull my hair out, I instead pulled out my cookbooks to look for inspiration, and decided that what sounded really good was a good batch of blondies. I’m especially partial to these blondies from Brown Eyed Baker because they are so quick and they really fill that craving perfectly for me. They are also perfect when I want to involve Sous Chef because you can put them together in one bowl with one spoon and one measuring cup. Perfect. I made this connection that they were perfect for a toddler to make one day when we had a family night a few months ago.

chocolate coconut blondies

We do spend a lot of time together as a family, but we always do it formally on Monday nights when we gather together and take the opportunity to teach our daughter religious principles. Since Sous Chef is three, we throw in plenty of songs and activities as well, and one week, when we talked about reverence, I wanted to make a treat as well. We dubbed them “reverence bars,” and made these blondies. It was a great time for Sous Chef to be really involved and it made the evening very memorable. For several weeks after, she wanted to make reverence bars. We refrained, since, although they are easy, they are definitely not healthy: to make an 8×8 pan, the recipe calls for a stick of butter and a cup of brown sugar. Nevertheless, the evening obviously stuck with her, at least the delicious blondies did; the memories of treats were sweet for her. That’s one thing I love so much about baking and food. Memories stick with you, especially tangible memories of taste. That night, we talked about showing respect for God, but what stuck with her more was the good time we had together as a family while we baked together and ate our blondies. Reverence is important, to be sure, but I’ll take the positive family memories we created that night. Years from now, that will stay with her, and by extension, she’ll know we love her.

Today, when what I needed was a cookie fix, they were perfect. She stirred them entirely by herself and half an hour later, I was rewarded with blondies. They were perfect. Buttery, chocolately, chewy.

chocolate coconut blondies 2

Perfect.

Except I forgot to add the salt. At least I won’t forget the togetherness we felt as a family while we baked, or the pride I felt when she made the batter completely by herself. These bars are so much more than simple blondies. They are charged with the memories of the times I’ve baked with Sous Chef.

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