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Baking together can be a great way to bond with children. The trick is to try out recipes that are simple, involve steps that are fun to do and the end result is something that everyone will look forward to eating. If you strike out on any of these counts, rest assured you’ll be in the company of some very bored kids!

Since my son Suyash is home for the holidays, I thought it would be fun to involve him in making two of his favourite sweet treats – Nutella cookies and chocolate mug cake. He not only agreed but invited his friend Soham to join us. The two decided to forsake a few hours of cricket in the interests of baking – such sweet boys!

Watch the video to see how the experience turned out. Yes, there were times the boys got a little impatient, especially since we had to repeat steps and pause for the camera several times. But I think the afternoon was an overall success.

Both the cookies and the mug cake are inspired by recipes I’ve come across online, but include some modifications that I feel make it easier for kids to make.

Mug Cake

I found this recipe on the ‘Submit Your Recipe’ section of Nigella Lawson’s website (I would have given you a link but for some strange reason, the website has been flagged currently). Suyash has been making mug cake since he was 8 years old! Initially, he made it with me around. But later I discovered he would make it for his friends when I was not home to show off his skills. Trust me it’s such a refreshing change to see your kids do something creative instead of being hooked to their PS3s, iPads and TV.

Mug cake is that perfect fix for when you’re craving something sweet. And if the batter is microwaved for a few seconds longer, you get something of a biscotti texture. I personally like eating this with a cup of coffee. The chocolate chips I’ve mentioned in the recipe can be replaced with almond slivers, chocolate sprinkles, whole chocolate pieces (white or brown), candied fruit etc. If you do not want the overpowering flavor of chocolate, replace the cocoa powder with all-purpose flour to get vanilla cake.

Ingredients:

All-purpose flour – 4 Tbsp
Sugar granular –4 Tbsp
Cocoa powder – 2 Tbsp
Baking powder – ¼ tsp
Egg – 1
Milk – 3 Tbsp
Oil – 3 Tbsp
Vanilla essence- 2 drops (too much and the cake will taste artificial)
Chocolate chips – 2 Tbsp (optional)
Mug – 1 large, microwave-safe

Instructions:

1. Mix all the dry ingredients (all-purpose flour, sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder) in the mug.

2. To this, add the egg, milk, vanilla essence and oil (all the liquid ingredients), mix together and combine to make a uniform mixture.

3. Add chocolate chips to this mixture and microwave it at high power (It should read 100) for 3 minutes.

4. Let the cake rest inside the microwave for 5 minutes before pulling it out.

5. Eat as it is or top with chocolate sauce or ice-cream.

Nutella Cookies

This is another very simple recipe that your children will learn to bake all by themselves! I found this recipe online and have made modifications over time to get that perfect level of sweetness and the fudginess that is oh so addictive.

This cookie tastes even better when you add peanut butter. Just replace half the quantity of Nutella with peanut butter to give it that extra flavor.

Also, if I am making these cookies myself, I first beat the egg and Nutella together for about 3 minutes and then mix in the all-purpose flour. This extra touch gives the cookies a better texture.

While baking cookies every minute counts, so it is very important to always set the time to the minimum specified in the recipe or by a couple of minutes less. Check the cookies after the set time and then decide whether you want to bake it some more to avoid hard cookies.

These cookies taste great as crumbled topping on vanilla ice-cream with a generous squirt of chocolate sauce, or with a cream cheese filling or simply with a glass of cold milk or hot chocolate.

Ingredients:

Nutella – 1 cup
All-purpose flour – 1 cup
Sugar – ½ to 1/4th cup (depending on how sweet you want it)
Egg – 1
Vanilla essence – 4 drops

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius.

2. Mix all the ingredients together. The dough will be more on the drier side. Flatten and shape them into the desired size. If you find it difficult to shape the cookies, put the dough in the refrigerator for about ten minutes before you start working on it. Always cover the dough while putting it in the refrigerator to avoid it getting too dry. If the dough is too dry already, add a few drops of milk to it.

3. Grease a cookie sheet slightly and bake the cookies for 7-8 minutes.

4. You can consider the cookies done when they become light brown in colour. If it’s too brown that means the cookies are overbaked. In addition, when the cookies are taken out of the oven after the specified time of baking, they are soft to touch. Let them cool a bit and they will harden.

5. After a few minutes, move the cookies from the baking tray to the wire rack until they are completely cooled. Now they can be transferred into an airtight jar.

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