Baking With The Kids

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Some of the best holiday traditions begin in the kitchen. For many families, the preparation of special holiday treats have turned into an annual event, with even the children lending a hand.

Julie Miltenberger, a food editor in the test kitchens at Family Circle magazine, shows three recipes on The Saturday Early Show. You can also find the Christmas Bark Candy and Chocolate Pretzels recipes in the current (Dec. 18) issue of Family Circle magazine. The recipe for Ginger Checkerboards is available in "Family Circle Best-Ever Cakes and Cookies, Plus Pies, Tarts, and Other Desserts".

For other holiday ideas, visit the Family Circle Web site.

Christmas Bark Candy

Makes about 6 1/2 dozen pieces (1 1/4 pounds) at $1.23 per dozen.
Prep: 30 minutes.
Microwave: at HIGH power 2 minutes.
Refrigerate: 30 minutes

1 package (12 ounces) white baking chocolate chips
26 lime-flavored circle candies, finely crushed (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup shelled, chopped pistachios (2 ounces shelled pistachios, or 4 ounces with shells)
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) green candy-coating disks, coarsely chopped


  1. Butter 17-by-11-inch baking sheet.
  2. Place chips in bowl. Microwave on HIGH power 2 minutes. Remove from microwave oven; stir until smooth. Stir in crushed candies and nuts. Let cool 3 minutes (mixture should be still warm enough for coating disks to melt slightly). Stir in coating disks.
  3. With a metal spatula, quickly spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheet to 1 inch from edge. Refrigerate until firm, for about 30 minutes.
  4. Break bark into about 78 small pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
For Red Bark: Substitute cherry-flavored candies for lime, dried cranberries for pistachios, red disks for green.

Nutrient Value Per Piece:
45 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated),
1 g protein, 5 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber,
7 mg sodium, 1 mg cholesterol.

Chocolate “Pretzels”

Makes about 2 dozen at $1.31 per dozen.
Prep: 45 minutes.
Chill: 1 hour
Bake: at 350 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes


1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 egg
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg white, lightly beaten
Pinch salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup light-brown sugar
8 sugar cubes, chopped, OR 2 tablespoons large sugar crystals


  1. Combine flour, cocoa powder and salt in a small bowl.
  2. Beat butter and brown sugar in large bowl until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. On low speed, add flour mixture in thirds and beat until smooth. Shape dough into disk; wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.

  3. Divide dough into 24 equal portions. Lightly cover flat surface with sifted cocoa powder. Roll each portion in powder into 9-inch rope. Twist into pretzel shape. Space 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheet. Redust surface with cocoa powder as needed. Brush pretzels with egg white. Sprinkle with sugar.
  4. Bake in 350-degree oven 12 to 14 minutes or until just firm. Let cool slightly on sheet on wire rack. Transfer pretzels to racks. Let cool completely.
Nutrient value per pretzel:

121 calories, 6 g fat (4 g saturated), 2 g protein, 15 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 15 mg sodium, 24 mg cholesterol

Ginger Checkerboards

Perky rectangles of brown and white checks, these cookies will add professional polish to a holiday cookie tray or gift package.

Makes 4 dozen cookies
Prep: 30 minutes
Refrigerate: 2 hours
Bake: at 375 degrees for 10 minutes


3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mild molasses
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light corn syrup


  1. With a mixer on medium speed, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add egg and vanilla; beat well. Beat in ginger, white pepper and salt.
  2. Transfer half of mixture to a medium-size bowl and set aside. Beat molasses into remaining butter mixture in large bowl. On low speed, beat in 1 1/2 cups flour until a dough forms.
  3. Transfer dough to a sheet of plastic wrap. Cover with a second piece of plastic wrap. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a 10-by-8-inch rectangle, about 1/3-inch thick. Transfer plastic wrap with dough to a baking sheet. Refrigerate.
  4. Meanwhile, with mixer on medium speed and using clean beaters, beat corn syrup into reserved half of butter mixture. On low speed, beat in remaining
    1 1/2 cups flour until a dough forms.
  5. Roll light-colored dough between plastic wrap as in step 3. Transfer to a second baking sheet. Refrigerate both doughs 1 hour or until firm.
  6. Remove 1 chilled dough rectangle from refrigerator. Peel plastic wrap from 1 side; invert onto a cutting board and peel off remaining plastic. Slice rectangle
    lengthwise into 1/3-inch-wide strips. Repeat with second chilled dough rectangle.
  7. Alternating colors, arrange 2 light strips of dough and 1 dark strip side by side on a work surface; press lightly together. Top with 2 dark and 1 light strip, alternating as before. Repeat with 2 light and 1 dark. If strips of dough tear, press them lightly back together. Transfer checkerboard log to a baking sheet; refrigerate.
  8. Repeat to assemble a second log, but begin with 2 dark strips of dough and 1 light strip; continue with alternating colors. Repeat with remaining strips of dough, assembling an equal number of log in each color sequence. Cover logs on baking sheets and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  9. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  10. One at a time, remove logs from refrigerator and place on a cutting board. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Transfer to an ungreased baking sheet, reshaping cookies if necessary.
  11. Bake cookies in heated 375-degree oven 10 minutes or until light-colored portions just begin to brown. Cool cookies slightly on baking sheets or wire racks; transfer cookies to racks to cool completely.

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