On the weekends Logan and I often spend some time in the kitchen together. He is particularly a fan of helping me bake. Instinctively, he knows that baking almost always involves sugar and frequently involves chocolate. Such a smart boy! As much as I love sharing this time together, with a nearly 4 year old it can be stressful at times. Big messes. Missed ingredients because of distraction. Not following directions. The dreaded “meltdown.” Sometimes I really want to get the job done fast, but he is determined to help me.
I’ve learned that a little organization can really go a long way in making the experience go smoothly. Pre-measuring the ingredients in bowls is a great way to curb the chaos that sometimes emerges when a preschooler is in the kitchen. Because the ingredients are pre-measured, I can easily instruct him on what ingredients to add and he can have at it, pouring the pre-measured amount into the mixing bowl. I don’t have to worry if we got all the ingredients in or added too much or too little of something.
Cooking or baking with your child is a great activity. Fun memories are made. Skills are learned. Conversations are shared. I have many fond memories of time spent in the kitchen with parents, friends, and other family members. It is these memories that have taught me lessons and strengthened my love for all things food and my desire to share those things with the people I love.
Because Logan is such a picky eater, spending time in the kitchen with him has been a great way to help him explore different foods without him feeling pressured to eat something. Even if he isn’t willing to taste something, the experience is exposing him to new and different ingredients. Because the atmosphere is relaxed, he often does try a taste of something. At the same time, I’m sharing my interests with him and teaching him valuable skills. We have fun together and he’s learning. Our bonds are growing. What could be better than that?
Logan has decided that he really loves chocolate. My love for the orange and chocolate combination is also no secret. I love finding recipes – old or new – to bring some of my favorite flavors together. I’ve made these brownies many times before, but for some reason until last week it never occurred to me that I should add chocolate. The brownies are delicious without the chocolate and a great option for those who don’t care for chocolate dessert. Apparently, those people do exist. With the chocolate, I thought they were incredible.
Orange Chocolate Chunk Brownies adapted from Paula Deen
1 1/8 c all-purpose flour
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
11 Tbs butter, softened
1 1/4 tsp pure orange extract
3/4 tsp grated orange zest
2 oz. coarsely chopped chocolate (preferably semi-sweet or dark chocolate)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 9×9 inch pan with foil and grease with cooking spray.
Stir together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a bowl. Add butter, eggs, orange extract, and orange zest. Using a handheld electric mixer, beat until well blended. Stir in chocolate chunks. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until light golden brown and set. Remove from oven, allow to completely cool and pierce entire cake with a fork.
Once cool, Lift brownies out of pan and remove foil. Spread the Orange Cream Cheese Frosting over cooled brownies. Cut into squares. Garnish with shaved chocolate.
Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbs softened butter
1/2 pound confectioners’ sugar
1 Tbs orange zest
1 Tbs orange juice
In a large mixing bowl, whip the butter and cream cheese together with a hand-held electric mixer. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until it is all combined and smooth. Beat in the orange zest and juice. Spread over brownies.
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