Welcome to Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly set of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, hands-on experiments, and activities paired with suggestions for how to bring learning to life in the kitchen.
This week, let kids take over making family breakfast with a batch of Banana-Oat Pancakes, an easy recipe for young chefs ages 5 and up from My First Cookbook. For a weekend project, kids and family members can make Peanut Butter Cups from scratch while answering some chocolate trivia questions.
Let kids take charge of family breakfast with these light and fluffy Banana-Oat Pancakes, perfect for young chefs ages 5 to 8 to make. As they prepare their ingredients, kids can practice sorting them into different groups based on their characteristics. You can serve the pancakes with extra sliced bananas, whipped cream, or maple syrup and gather around your table to enjoy a family conversation as you eat with some breakfast-related conversation starters.
What You’ll Need:
1¼ cups (6¼ ounces) all-purpose flour
2½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 ripe bananas
1½ cups (12 ounces) milk
1 cup (3 ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 tablespoons sugar
Vegetable oil spray
In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
Peel bananas and place in medium bowl. Mash bananas well with large fork or potato masher.
Add milk and oats to bananas and whisk until combined. Let sit until oats are softened, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs, oil, and sugar to bowl with banana mixture and whisk until well combined.
Add banana mixture to flour mixture. Whisk until just combined.
Spray skillet with vegetable oil spray and heat over medium heat until hot, about 1 minute. Use ¼-cup dry measuring cup to scoop 3 portions of batter into skillet.
Cook pancakes until first side is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Flip and cook until second side is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to plates. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with remaining batter in 4 batches.
Sorting and Classifying (General Knowledge):
As kids gather their ingredients before they start cooking, ask them to sort the ingredients into different categories. Start by asking kids to sort the ingredients into two groups: solids and liquids. Remind kids that solids hold their own shape, no matter what container they’re in, and liquids take the shape of their container. As they sort, ask kids to explain their reasoning for why they are putting an ingredient in one group or another. (With these ingredients, the milk and vegetable oil are liquids, and all of the rest of the ingredients are solids.)
Ask kids: What are some other ways to sort these items? Allow kids to create their own categories. If kids get stuck, you can suggest that they sort the items by color (lightest to darkest), amount (greatest to least), texture (soft versus hard) and even storage (pantry versus refrigerator).
Take It Further:
Language Arts (Speaking and Listening):
As you enjoy your pancakes together, use the prompts below to help foster conversation around your table. Topics can be serious, entertaining, or even make-believe. As kids and other family members answer the questions, help them think through their thoughts and feelings about their answers and what has been said by others. Here are some ideas to get you started:
If you could invite a character from a book to have breakfast with us, who would it be? Why did you pick them? What do you think they would like to eat?
Did you think making these pancakes was easy, medium, or hard? Have you ever had trouble doing something at first? What was it? How did you learn to get better?
These pancakes have bananas in them, but what is your favorite fruit? Why? Do you think it would taste good in a pancake?
Peanut Butter Cups
Kids (OK, the whole family) will have fun making and eating this do-it-yourself version of a beloved chocolate candy — peanut butter cups! — from our latest book, “The Complete DIY Cookbook for Young Chefs.” You can substitute semisweet chocolate for the milk chocolate if you want. Make sure to use milk chocolate in bar form, not chocolate chips. If you do not have a mini-muffin tin, you can use a regular 12‑cup muffin tin to make 12 larger peanut butter cups. While the layers of your Peanut Butter Cups chill in the refrigerator, play a round of “Chocolate Trivia” and see how much your young chefs know about this surprisingly ancient ingredient.
What You’ll Need:
12 ounces milk chocolate
½ cup creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
1/8 teaspoon salt
Line 24‑cup mini-muffin tin with 24 paper liners.
Place chocolate in large zipper-lock plastic bag and seal, removing as much air as possible from bag. Use rolling pin to gently pound chocolate into small pieces.
In small microwave-safe bowl, add half of pounded chocolate. Heat in microwave at 50 percent power for 1 minute. Use rubber spatula to stir chocolate. Return to microwave and heat at 50 percent power until melted, about 1 minute longer. Use oven mitts to remove bowl from microwave. Use rubber spatula to stir chocolate until completely melted and smooth.
Pour melted chocolate into one quart-size zipper-lock bag. Push chocolate to one corner of bag and twist top. Use scissors to snip ⅛ inch off corner of filled bag.
Pipe chocolate in spiral in each muffin-tin cup, working from outside in, to cover bottom of liner. Transfer muffin tin to freezer and freeze for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, add peanut butter to second small microwave-safe bowl and heat in microwave until warm, about 1 minute. Use oven mitts to remove bowl from microwave.
Add confectioners’ sugar, butter, and salt to warmed peanut butter and use clean rubber spatula to stir until well combined. Fill second quart-size zipper-lock bag with peanut butter mixture. Use scissors to snip ⅛ inch off corner of filled bag.
Remove muffin tin from freezer. Pipe peanut butter mixture over chilled chocolate layer in each muffin-tin cup in spiral to cover chocolate layer. Take a break every six cups and gently tap pan on counter to even out layer of peanut butter.
Add remaining pounded chocolate to bowl used to melt chocolate. Heat in microwave at 50 percent power for 1 minute. Use rubber spatula to stir chocolate. Return to microwave and heat at 50 percent power until melted, about 1 minute longer. Use oven mitts to remove bowl from microwave. Use rubber spatula to stir chocolate until completely melted and smooth.
Fill third quart-size zipper-lock bag with melted chocolate. Use scissors to snip ⅛ inch off corner of filled bag.
Pipe melted chocolate on top of peanut butter layer in each muffin-tin cup in spiral to cover peanut butter layer. Take a break every six cups and gently tap pan on counter to even out layer of chocolate.
Transfer muffin tin back to freezer and chill for 30 minutes. Remove muffin tin from freezer and remove peanut butter cups from pan. Serve. (Peanut butter cups can be refrigerated in airtight storage container for up to 2 weeks).
Trivia (General Knowledge):
1. Cacao beans, the main ingredient in chocolate, come from a:
2. How many cacao beans does it take to make 1 pound of chocolate?
3. Which type of chocolate has the MOST cacao?
A. Hot chocolate
B. Milk chocolate
C. White chocolate
D. Dark chocolate
4. Thousands of years ago, the Aztecs used cacao beans for:
B. Building homes
5. White chocolate is made of:
A. Cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids
B. Cacao beans, sugar, and whole milk
C. Dark chocolate, cocoa butter, and cocoa powder
D. Milk chocolate, sugar, and milk solids
6. What chocolate treat did astronauts take into space in 1982?
A. Hot chocolate mix
C. Chocolate bar with almonds
D. Chocolate syrup
7. At what temperature does chocolate begin to melt?
A. 32 degrees
B. 90 degrees
C. 150 degrees
D. 212 degrees
8. In the year 2010, a world record was set for the largest ________ ever made.
A. chocolate rabbit
B. chocolate fountain
C. chocolate chip cookie
D. cup of hot chocolate
Answer Key: 1 (B); 2 (B); 3 (D); 4 (C); 5 (A); 6 (B); 7 (B); 8 (D)