From Lisa Barnes
In an effort to overcome being considered the “healthy” mom (and not stigmatize my son), I made s’mores for my son’s preschool class. Kind of a large departure from my usual healthy treats, but let me explain. It wasn’t the Hershey milk chocolate, trans fat laden graham cracker, kind of s’mores. It was a semi sweet fair trade chocolate, homemade (heart shaped) graham cracker cookie treat. The childhood favorite with a gourmet, healthier twist. One of the teachers was surprised about not bringing milk chocolate, but I explained about the antioxidant benefits of dark chocolate. I didn’t go all out with homemade marshmallows (just ran out of time), but I did find a trans fat free version and bought mini ones. Mini because kids like getting more of something (4 minis seem like more than 1 large).
I was a bit intimidated coming in to the classroom. I feel like this is the teacher’s turf, and I too have lots of learning to do. I’m used to teaching parents and they are not as honest with their thoughts or critiques (at least not to my face). Of course I teach my own children and sometimes their friends in the kitchen, but this was a group of 16 children.
They put together a great campfire (made of construction and tissue paper) and the children sat around putting marshmallows on sticks (recycled from a tree that went down in the neighborhood) and “roasting” them. Very cute. Then I helped them assemble the s’mores on cooking sheets for me to bake in the teacher’s oven. I worried some kids wouldn’t like them as some said “I don’t like the chocolate melted”, “I don’t like marshmallows” and “I eat the chocolate separately” (my own purist son). The teacher told me “it’s not about the end product, but the activity and the journey with children”. I did learn something. I know how much fun my own son has cooking with me, so being part of a group would be no different – whether they’re playing in a home kitchen or around a make believe campfire. I appreciated the reminder and look forward to going back.
Maybe I’ll try something healthier next time – hummus anyone?
Here’s a recipe for homemade graham crackers minus the trans fats of many of the processed, store bought varieties. Roll them thinner for crisp grahams or thicker for a cookie version.
Greatest Graham Crackers from The Petit Appetit Cookbook
1 cup organic graham or whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ cup unsalted butter
½ cup honey
¼ cup organic milk, plus 1 tablespoon extra for brushing
Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine flours and baking powder in a medium bowl. Cut in butter until consistency of cornmeal. Mix in honey; dough will still be lumpy. Mix in milk until a stiff dough comes together.
Roll out dough on a liberally floured surface to ¼ inch thickness. Cut into squares or use cookie cutters to make desired shapes. Prick each cracker with a fork and brush with milk.
Bake crackers on ungreased baking sheets for 12 – 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove pan from oven and let crackers cool about 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Makes about 48 crackers.
Cut it out. Of course these can be cut to look like traditional store-bought graham crackers. However if you want something more fun (toddlers can help) use your cookie cutters to create desired shapes. Little hands love hearts, flowers and stars.
Lisa Barnes is author of The Petit Appetit Cookbook and lives in Sausalito, California.
Photo Credit: Lisa Barnes
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