Back to school means packed lunches, bake sales and class parties. With a busy fall schedule, baking is a fun way to spend time with your kids. Bond over chocolate and give your kids some added sweetness to their days.

Chocolate isn’t just a comfort food anymore – it’s healthy as well. Research indicates that dark chocolate has many antioxidants that block arterial damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Chocolate’s flavonoids relax blood vessels while the mood-altering serotonin and endorphins increase brain waves.

The classic cookie

Ruth Wakefield invented the chocolate chip cookie in 1937 at her Massachusetts bed and breakfast, the Toll House Inn. She thought her butter cookie recipe would mix well with some semi-sweet chocolate. The chocolate cookie has become the most popular cookie of all time.

Mrs. Wakefield’s Original Toll House Cookie Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 2/3 cups (11-oz. pkg. chocolate chips)
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

Directions

  • PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
  • COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  • BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Make sure you have the right equipment with the 3-piece Wilton Non-Stick Bakeware Pan Set. Get a non-stick cookie sheet, cake and loaf pan made from cold-rolled steel provides even heating and prevents warping so you get perfectly browned cookies, bread and mini-cakes. Dishwasher safe and suitable for use in an induction oven. Includes 5-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Bake sale magic
Even when your cooking with kids you should still use a good chocolate. Poor-quality chocolate has other kinds of fat added and sometimes a white, waxy build up, a sign of poor processing. Look for cacao content for milk chocolate around 30 to 35 per cent, and dark chocolate with at least 75% cacao concentration.

Homemade chocolate is a fun way to cook with chocolate and making homemade chocolate is easy. There are dozens of inexpensive candy molds sold at craft, kitchen or cake decorating stores. You must buy the right kind of chocolate – chocolate chips are too soft and won’t hold their shape.

The Norpro Krona Double Boiler is the perfect pot to use for melting chocolate. The two layers of stainless steel with an aluminum core layer in the middle prevent hot spots and burning. Melt the chocolate until it’s a smooth, creamy consistency. Keep stirring. When the chocolate is fully melted, drop the chocolate into the moulds. Place them on the counter where you can get rid of air bubbles. Place in freezer 10 minutes or until the mold is set. Turn mold upside down on a sheet of waxed paper to remove.

Dipping into chocolate

Fondue is usually done with cheese or oil but a chocolate fondue can be a fun dessert that everyone enjoys. Cut up your kid’s favourite fruits into bite-sized cubes such as apple, strawberries, bananas or oranges. You can include small cubes of pound or sponge cake. Add a teaspoon of vanilla or almond extract or grated lemon after the chocolate is melted for bit of extra flavour.

Fondue Ingredients

  • 8 ounces semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/3 cup half and half cream
  • vanilla extract

Directions

  • In a double boiler or heat-safe bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt chocolate with half and half, stirring, until smooth.
  • Transfer to a fondue pot or slow cooker and serve with dippers.

The stainless steel Rival Fondue Pot will keep the chocolate fondue warm with a temperature setting up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The Non-stick coating on the interior means no burnt chocolate. Includes 8 fondue forks with different coloured tips.

Fair trade chocolate

One final note about a global issue concerning chocolate.  Our love of chocolate has created a large global demand for the sweet. Sadly many cocoa farms use child labour often in unsafe working conditions. Most of the chocolate is produced across the Ivory Coast where 1.8 million children between 8 and 17 years of age are forced to work on the cocoa farms. However, over 90% of chocalate is grown on small family run farms.  Fair trade certification helps these farms to stay profitable, while also ensuring the cocoa is produced without forced or child labour.  It is getting much easier to find Fair trade chocolate in Canada, especially with companies like Cadbury supporting the efforts.

So please enjoy chocolate this fall. I hope you try these recipes. You will find more equipment for cooking in the Best Buy Baking Section.

Lastly, please share your favourite chocolate recipe with us in the comment section.

I’ve been covering technology since 1992 and I’ve seen a lot of technology come and go. I enjoy following the trends, spotting the winners and losers and teaching consumers how to get the best products and services for their needs. My work has been published in the National Post, Reader's Digest.com, Yahoo, Miami Herald and other North American publications and websites.