My kids attend a preschool that is absolutely amazing. It is located about 5 minutes outside of the city. The school was formerly a home, in which the founders of the school raised their family. They have turned their former home into a dynamite preschool. I am not kidding when I say there are llamas, billy goats, chickens, burros, ponies and bunnies – and those are just the outside animals. The school teaches the kids about the importance of nature, which is in the curriculum. In the spring they make maple syrup from the sap they have collected. There are winter bonfires where the kids roast hot dogs and maybe a marshmallow or two…and they still learn the foundation for reading and much more! My younger two were having an argument the other day about the sign for grandfather…because sign language is in their curriculum! The most recent unit the kids studied at Country Day was Alaska. Kasey’s teacher asked me if I’d be interested in making Baked Alaska with the class. I agreed to help out! And again, I was pleased with the teachers exposing the kids to cooking at such a young age.
But, this post is not about Children’s Country Day (though I could go on for hours)… this post is about teaching kids to have an appreciation for what they eat and how food makes it from the stove to their bellies. This isn’t exactly a healthy recipe, but it is a building block for an appreciation of food. I have involved my kids in the kitchen so much – that when I want to make something quickly (and without help) I have hard time getting them out of the kitchen. The more involvement they have, the more likely they will be intersted in eating what you place in front of them. The more likely they will be willing to try something new – doesn’t mean they will like it, but perhaps they will willingly try a bite of the lasagna they helped make. With these baby steps I feel that you can help develop a love of food…which will then hopefully take away from the battles of dinnertime. Start with a cake, you’re bound to win!
Baked Alaska – Kids Version
1 box cake, you can make it in a 9X11 or in a round cake pan, too. Depends on the crowd.
2 pints of ice cream (give or take depending on the size), whatever flavor you like – traditionally it’s been done with strawberry ice cream. We used vanilla for the kids.
6 egg whites (I am sensitive to the whole eggs-salmonella thing – so I use pasteurized eggs. You can find them at some grocery stores. They aren’t organic, but they are flash heated and it kills the bacteria. You could use egg whites that come in a container, which are also pasteurized. It’s just when I am feeding little bellies – I like to take precautions when potentially eating eggs that haven’t been heated enough!)
3/4 cup sugar
dash of salt
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1. Make cake according to the directions. Once cooked place it in the freezer to cool.
2. Allow the ice cream to soften until it is scoop-able for kids. Let them smother the cake with ice cream! Put the cake with ice cream back into the freezer for as long as possible. In the classroom -the cake froze about as long as it took to beat the eggs.
3. Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Separate the egg whites and put into a stand mixer bowl if you have one. This is the best option, however, we made ours with a hand mixer. It still worked- it just took a while. Add the eggs and a dash of salt to the bowl and begin mixing. Beat the eggs until there are soft peaks forming. It might take a while – don’t give up! Once the soft peaks have begun to form you can then add the sugar. You can see in the picture below that it was probably too soft…but we were almost out of time. Once they reach a more firm consistency, layer the cake with the meringue and quick place it in the oven.
This recipe was simple because we were being sensitive to allergies and wanted it to appeal to all the kids. But I made one for a little dinner party after our first classroom Baked Alaska adventure. I still kept it simple by using a box cake. But I spiced it up a bit by using a pint of pistachio ice cream and a pint of cherry vanilla ice cream. I froze it overnight. It was a good thing it was good friends because it took a while to get the meringue to form but once it did it was a successful dessert!
Here are a few other recipes that I found which might be more appealing if you are looking for something fancier!