Baking with littles is BIG fun!

Full disclosure: I hate messes and I hate inaccurate baking. I wasn’t always like this, but unfortunately, I got like that right around having kids, and if there’s anything I’ve learned about kids….they’re messy and inaccurate.

However, I’m trying to take a page out of my mother-in-law’s book and let my crazy bunch bake, mess and all. Because I guess it’s not about a perfect product…it’s about building confidence, having fun and letting my kids be independent and all that jazz.

So, this morning we made a “Christmas family tradition” cookie. Some people call them Russian Tea Cakes, probably because that’s what they are…and some people call them snowball cookies, probably because that’s what they look like and we’re Americans, darn it! Whatever you call them, they’re delicious and don’t have any eggs in them, which means I’m not a nervous wreck when my kids make them because even if they eat a little dough there’s no salmonella risk. Win-Win.

I measured out all of the ingredients ahead of time so that my young kids could just dump and mix, but if your kids are older I say let them measure! Baking is not an exact science (it literally is….I mean it’s fine.)

First thing’s first….wash your hands and wash your kids’ hands, and then use hand sanitizer because ain’t no one want runny nose cookies. YUM.

Now, pre-heat the oven and pray that your kids don’t touch a pile of dirt, go to the bathroom, or rub their hands in the fireplace soot while you do that. Let’s be clear, that could happen, it takes at least 3.4 seconds to preheat the oven and….kids.

Pre-Heat oven to 325F as quickly as possible.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper OR a snazzy cookie sheet.

Divide two cups of walnuts into any number of ziplock bags, I did three ziplock bags because my three kids were helping me

Put two cups of flour in a bowl

1/2 cup sugar in a bowl

1 teaspoon vanilla in a tiny bowl

set aside two cups of powdered sugar in a big bowl

Put 2 sticks of very soft (but not melted) butter into a big mixing bowl

Are you wishing you could do this in your kitchenAid mixer….me, too. But THIS baking session is about the kids, not us. Ugh, I know.

Make sure your ziplock bags are sealed tight (I messed that up…oopsie!) and let your kids POUND the walnuts with wooden spoons, or anything else that is safe for them to pound a bag of walnuts with. Good ideas: wooden spoons, rolling pins, fists. Bad ideas: wine bottles, glasses, anything breakable…and actually…move fists into bad idea category.

Now, let each kid dump their bag of crushed walnuts into the bowl that has the butter.

Next let a kid dump the sugar in, flour in, vanilla in.

Now, I recommend an adult starts the stirring and lets the kids take over, but I’m also not totally committed to a messy baking experience, so it’s really up to you. Worst case scenario is flour getting everywhere and let’s face it…that’s bound to happen anyway.

Next, divide the dough into three bowls (I kept reusing my flour, sugar and vanilla bowls) and let each kid make small balls of dough and set them on cookie sheet.

PRO TIP: You can’t “roll” the dough into balls because then they crumble. You have to kind of squeeze them into balls. The balls shouldn’t be bigger than ping pong balls, but don’t make them too tiny, either. (Remember when I said this isn’t about perfection…I was wrong)

Once the cookie sheet is filled with cookies, put them in the oven for 25-35 minutes. My cookies needed 30 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when the bottom is slightly browned. The top won’t look much different than when they were raw, so be sure to check the bottom!

Take them out and let them cool just a bit, cool enough that you can handle them and your kids can handle them, but still warm.

Now the fun part. And by “fun” I mean the most stressful, messy and chaotic part. Let your kids roll the cookies around in a bowl of powdered sugar. I divided the sugar into three bowls so they each had their own because my kids share everything all the time and I like to give them their “own” things on occasion.

You should accept the fact that your kids are going to lick their fingers because they’re covered in sugar, they’re going to eat the cookies and they’re probably going to lick the bowl like a dog lapping up water on a hot day. No? Just mine? Cool.

Now you have some awesome cookies, great memories, probably some cute pictures, and a fairly manageable mess to clean up.

Want the recipe but not the sweet, sweet commentary? Find it below.

2 cups crushed walnuts

2 cups flour

2 sticks of soft butter

2 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 325

Mix butter, flour, crushed walnuts, granulated sugar and vanilla

Roll into balls and bake for 25-35 minutes until bottom of cookie is slightly browned.

Let cool so warm to touch and roll in powder sugar

**I also did a batch with mini chocolate chips…delicious!!!!**

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