Happy Valentine’s Day! For me, any holiday is a perfect reason to bake with my son, but Valentine’s day especially. As Daniel Tiger says, “making something is one way to say, I love you.” And to add to that, I say, making something with someone you love and then enjoying it together is another. So we decided to delve into THE COMPLETE BAKING BOOK FOR YOUNG CHEFS this week to make a heart-shaped chocolate cake with raspberry cream cheese frosting.
THE COMPLETE BAKING BOOK FOR YOUNG CHEFS, is the companion book to, THE COMPLETE COOKBOOK FOR YOUNG CHEFS, and comes from America’s Test Kitchen, that claims they have been teaching home cooks to be successful in the kitchen for 25 years. After going through this cookbook, I have no reason to question that. This baking book for kids is super thorough. That being said, you can’t just send your eight-year-old off with this book and expect bakery profection all on their own. Even though the book is thorough with an introductory breakdown of all the baking tools, terms, ingredients, skills, and tips for baking safety and success, parental involvement will most likely be necessary. But I can’t think of a better way to spend time with your child than baking. Plus, you’ll be secretly reinforcing science and math lessons. Who doesn’t love a day of home-schooling that ends with homemade soft pretzels?
One of my favorite things about this baking book, is how each recipe is accompanied by a fun fact about one of its ingredients. These facts combine history, cultural significance, and just plain science, on why we use a certain ingredient. For the chocolate cake my son and I made, the recipe included why we used dutch-processed cocoa instead of a natural cocoa. We learned about 19th century Dutch chemist and chocolatier, Coenraad Van Houten and cocoa powder’s pH levels. I am an avid baker, who’s mother was a home-economics teacher, and this was the first time I learned anything about this. It was so cool. Though with my son being just two and a half, I benefited most from these fun facts.
However, if you have a much younger baking parter like mine, they will love the colorful food pictures and designs on each recipe page. And as I have shared before on a KCN Minute, my son loves having recipes in cook books read to him like bedtime stories. It has been a really fun way to get my son excited about a myriad of different foods.
As for our bake, we took the CHOCOLATE CUPCAKE recipe from the Cakes & Cupcakes chapter of THE COMPLETE BAKING BOOK FOR YOUNG CHEFS, with a few modifications due to missing ingredients, and poured the batter into a heart shaped cake pan I had from a Valentine’s bake a long time ago. I lined the cake pan with parchment paper like the book suggests in the introduction. Then we just baked it a few minutes longer than the cupcake recipe called for and we had chocolate cake success. We then used the STRAWBERRY FROSTING recipe from the same chapter, but used freeze-dried raspberries instead of strawberries because that is what we had on hand. This frosting recipe is so good! I am usually not a frosting person; I think it is too sweet, but this frosting is divine. No cake necessary, you can eat it with a spoon. Plus it involves pounding the freeze dried fruit into a powder, which is the perfect activity for young, energy-filled chefs.
If you are interested, here is the recipe with my modifications:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup greek yogurt
- 1/2 coconut vegetable shortening
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Line 9 inch round, heart shaped, or 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper.
- In medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl combine cocoa and chocolate chips.
- Heat water in a liquid measuring cup in microwave until hot and steaming, 1 to 2 minutes. Use oven mitts to remove measuring cup from microwave. Carefully pour water over chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.
- Add sugar, greek yogurt, shortening, eggs, and vanilla to bowl with chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add flour mixture and use rubber spatula to stir until just combined and no dry flour is visible.
- Pour mixture into your prepared baking pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 22 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the oven with oven mitts and let it cool completely, about 15 minutes.
- Slide a knife around the edges of the cake and invert the cake onto a cake plate.
- Frost the cake as desired with raspberry frosting. Enjoy!
Raspberry Frosting Ingredients:
- 1 cup freeze-dried raspberries
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
- 1 tablespoon greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
- Place raspberries in a large zipper-lock plastic bag. Press out as much air as possible, then seal bag. Use rolling pin to gently pound raspberries into powder (though mine still had a few small chucks and I really ended up liking the bursts of flavor in the frosting.)
- In a bowl combine cream cheese, butter, greek yogurt, vanilla, salt, and raspberry powder. Mix with stand mixer or handheld on medium until smooth, about 2 minutes. Use rubber spatula to scrape down sides of bowl.
- Start mixer on low speed. Slowly add sugar, a little bit at a time, and beat until smooth, about 4 minutes.
- Increase speed to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 4 minutes.
Though we didn’t follow the original recipe exactly, this baking book provided an amazing roadmap to a delicious and fun Valentine’s day cake to bake with my son. The bake was filled with lots of love and frosting kisses.
And though we opted to try a cake recipe from THE COMPLETE BAKING BOOK FOR YOUNG CHEFS, know there are so many savory recipes to try too, including mouth-watering empanadas. Though, you and your littles will have so much fun putting love into whatever you bake.
Have a great Valentine’s day and please comment with how you and your littles will be sharing love today.