Cooking with children at Christmas

Cooking with children at Christmas

by Tom Wildman 22 December 2015

Cooking with your kids is a fantastic way to bring the family together and recapture some Christmas magic. Read through our Christmas ideas for children and make this year extra special.

A Cordon Bleu graduate from Tante Marie Culinary Academy, Tom shares his food passions both in the kitchen and by writing about his favourite dishes.

A Cordon Bleu graduate from Tante Marie Culinary Academy, Tom shares his food passions both in the kitchen and by writing about his favourite dishes.

Although our minds tend to focus on Christmas Day and its mountain of food prep, Christmas is also the perfect time to get kids cooking. During the festive period it can be a challenge to keep children occupied – the schools have broken up, the cold weather takes hold and housebound boredom inevitably creeps in. Read through our favourite kid-friendly recipes and have your children cooking up a festive storm.

Brilliant biscuits

Biscuits are always a winner when baking with kids. Quick and easy to prepare, biscuit-making can capture the shortest of attention spans and serve as the perfect canvas for festive decorating. They also make perfect edible gifts to give to friends and family – a much more meaningful present than something you’ve had to sort out for them! Graham Campbell’s ingenious Reindeer hand cookies don't need a pastry cutter; instead, hands are used as a stencil, before decorating the reindeers in colourful icing.

Howard Middleton’s Cranberry and white chocolate stars are a delicious gluten-free option, using potato flour for extra crunch and dried cranberries for contrasting chewiness. To finish the biscuits, Howard drizzles them with white chocolate, before dipping them in colourful freeze-dried cranberry powder. Sometimes it’s nice to stick to the tried and tested biscuit classics, such as florentines or gingerbread. Sally Abé’s Ginger biscuits can be shaped into Christmas trees, gingerbread men or any other festive shape of your child's choosing.

Shape up for Christmas

The rich imagery of Christmas means it’s the perfect time to get creative and introduce children to a variety of festive themes. Our chefs have taken a break from their restaurants to develop their own Christmas-inspired recipes that are guaranteed to bring some festive cheer to your kitchen. Lisa Allen’s glittery Granola and yoghurt baubles will make a colourful addition to any Christmas tree (just don’t expect them to stay there long!), while Marcello Tully’s Meringue forest recipe uses just a few ingredients and involves lots of messy decorating that children will love.

For a more involved recipe that’ll occupy a morning or afternoon, try Lisa Allen’s Christmas éclair tree. Although the recipe has a few different elements which will require extra guidance when cooking with children, the finished result is seriously impressive and well worth the effort. If you're after a delicious Christmas gift recipe, look no further than Graham Campbell's Coconut snowballs. Made with standard store cupboard ingredients, these little sweets can be whipped up in just twenty minutes and make a delicious Christmas petit four.

In the mix

When it comes to Christmas drinks, adults have all the fun – christmas cocktails, eggnog, mulled cider and wine are all festive favourites, but unfortunately for kids they also contain alcohol. This beverage injustice can be rectified, however, with our delicious non-alcoholic festive drinks.

Smoothies are a great way to use up leftover fruit and can be quickly transformed into a luxurious festive drink with the addition of winter spices, as Andy McLeish’s banana smoothie demonstrates.

Jelly is the quintessential kids food and with William Drabble's Mulled wine jellies, children can also enjoy the classic festive flavours of mulled wine. For something truly special, try Vivek Singh's Snowball mocktail, which uses mincemeat-infused sugar syrup and is topped with redcurrants and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Budding masterchefs

For older children and keen young cooks, we also have a variety of slightly more challenging recipes. Colin McGurran’s Rhubarb pancakes are named after Blitzen, the fastest of Santa’s reindeers and are a delicious, indulgent dessert that children will enjoy cooking and (most importantly) eating. Christmas pudding is an integral part of any festive celebration, but is easy to grow tried of if left with a large amount. Galton Blackiston’s Christmas pudding ice cream is an excellent way of using up leftover Christmas pudding and delicious served atop a warm mince pie.

Many of us will remember being drafted in to help with vegetable chopping and other food prep on Christmas Day. While dull for some, it can be very rewarding for keen cooks. This is a great opportunity to teach children valuable kitchen skills and make them a proud part of the festivities. With the right guidance, many of the traditional Christmas dinner sides such as stuffing, roast potatoes, cranberry sauce and pigs in blankets may be prepared by children, and has that added benefit of lightening your workload.