Children's cooking camps are wonderful ways to introduce kids to the joys of cooking. In a world where kids are constantly distracted by social media, these student culinary chefs learn firsthand that cooking requires concentration, teamwork, creativity, patience and perseverance.
Over the course of two camps, four days each, these budding chefs learn many cooking skills. For example: Teamwork and social interaction begin on day one, along with basic proficiencies such as measuring, timing and temperature, knife skills, kitchen safety and tools.
The kids bring bread dough to life with artistic vegetable scenes. Sauces and rubs make each savory dish stand out as their own. Perfectly seared steaks are not a problem for these young cooks. From scratch, they make homemade pasta, sauces, ramen and stock, learning the basics of laminating dough—and the scrumptious rewards.
Pâte a choux dough is a "mother dough" and the backbone of such tantalizing desserts as sugar puffs, eclairs, churros and cream puffs. The session ends with the junior chefs creating tarts, pastry cream, cakes and cake decorating. What a luscious class!
The benefits of learning, not only how to cook, but the joy of creating delicious foods and discovering their culinary origins, stimulate the love and effort it takes to create beautiful cuisines. What sweet memories food creates!
Chouquettes or Sugar Puffs
1 cup butter
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup flour
4 large eggs, at room temperature
Glaze: 1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 teaspoon milk
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Over medium heat, cook water, salt, sugar, and butter in medium saucepan, stirring until butter melts. Remove from heat and stir in flour all at once. Return pan back to burner on low temperature and stir rapidly until mixture is smooth and pulls away from sides of pan. You should have a thin film on the sides and bottom of the pan.
Allow dough to cool for 2 minutes, then briskly beat in eggs, one at a time until smooth and shiny. You may use a mixer or wooden spoon.
Using a pastry bag with ½ tip, insert dough and pipe puffs into small uniform circles. You may also use two spoons and drop dough into uniform rounds onto parchment paper.
Place mounds evenly spaced apart on baking sheet. Brush the top of each mound with some of the egg glaze. Press sugar pearls over top and sides of each mound. Be generous with sugar as puffs will amply rise.
Bake puffs until browned and puffed. About 25 minutes. If too brown midway through baking, lower heat to 350 degrees and finish baking. For crispier puffs, poke a hole in them while cooking to allow steam to escape.
Sugar puffs are best eaten the same day. Once cooled they may be frozen in a zip-top bag for a month.