What is it about the cookie? Is it the butter? The sugar? The size? The comfort in memories? The crunch? The gooeyness? It seems to me that the global love for the baked treat is all of the above. Everyone I’ve talked to about cookies this month has opinions about them; real, strong and often steadfast ones:

“It depends on the flavor: if it’s chocolate chip then crunchy;  if it’s oatmeal raisin then chewy.”

“Ok… I love a thick chewy cookie… crunchy cookies, uh… not so crazy about ‘em.”   

“I need a sturdy cookie, for dipping, scooping ice cream, etc. I’m not the flimsy type…”

Might our cookie preference parallel our personality? While this blog may not be the venue for exploring the intricacies linking food preference and human character, it is a place to divulge recipes of the Edible Schoolyard kitchen and the outcomes of children making their own choices.

December is the month of the cookie in the Edible Schoolyard kitchen.

We start by looking at wheat seeds in their full form and then smash them to bits with a large clay mortar and wooden pestle that friends from Vietnam donated to the kitchen a few years ago after they gave a cooking class and saw the exhilaration kids had when using it. Once we establish that we are going to be using parts of plants in our cookies and other foods that come directly from the ground we’re ready to measure and mix.

We combine the white wheat flour, Homeland Creamery butter, raw cane sugar, sea salt, baking soda, dark chocolate chips, homemade vanilla extract, ESY chicken eggs, brown sugar, and cream of tartar (it adds crackles in the top). Students decide from the following to add to their base recipe: Peppermint oil, orange oil, walnuts, almond paste, cinnamon, rosemary, sage, mint, lemon balm, apple, raisins or cocoa powder.

Some students desire as many combinations as possible to push the boundaries and test the unknown, while others are more reserved and could never imagine putting a green leaf in their chocolate chip cookie. (“EW! Are you serious?!?” says one student. “Yes, yes we are,” teachers respond.) The winning combination from one evening with our 3rd-5th grader cooking class was chocolate chip with cocoa powder, cinnamon and peppermint oil (a variation on a thin mint!).   

Cooking is like any other responsible learning cycle. We make a choice, we think about it, we reflect on our thoughts, and then we act. Students learn to express their opinions with each other in the kitchen. Shy students are given room to share the passion of their palate and energetic students are able to listen and decide which combinations are most exciting, most disgusting, or the most delicious.

In cooking and gardening we grow through our errors, we take ownership and we celebrate our achievements and our mistakes. In fact, the kitchen is a perfect place for these life lessons and it’s what we explore with our students. In teaching holistic cooking, we’re engaging the whole student, asking them to discern and reflect on choices, flavors, techniques, and experiences.  Here is the recipe we used for our cookies. Happy Baking!  – Kat

Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (120 grams) firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) (115 grams) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch (1cm) pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups (175 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups (200 grams) semisweet chocolate chips

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

 Adjust the oven rack to the top 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 300F (150C). Line three baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat the sugars and butters together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Stir together the flour and salt, then mix them into the batter. Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts. Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon (5cm) balls and place 8 balls, spaced 4 inches (10cm) apart, on each of the baking sheets. Bake for 18 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Make about 20 cookies.

Borrowed from a favorite cooking blog, 101 cookbooks:

 Don’t miss the opportunity to bake cookies with MRS. CLAUS in the Edible Schoolyard Kitchen this year!




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