Have you ever wondered how they make candy bars? The scientist in me was so intrigued I just had to figure it out. Nothing can get students more excited than the prospect of making candy. They often remark, “you can make your own candy bars?” “Yes” I say, “its magic.” But really all it takes is a whole bunch of problem solving skills-a great way to teach students these skills as they beg you to engage in this lesson.
Since I teach semester culinary classes, Valentines Day comes up around the time that I am going over how to measure correctly. I use this lab for my culinary II students who already have learned how to measure correctly so instead of demonstrating the techniques I have them show me that they remember how to measure correctly by making this recipe. This lab also allows them to get familiar with their kitchens and lab group. Obviously this recipe or any other cookie recipe could be used to produce the same results—students proving that they know how to measure different ingredients.
Teaching the elements and principles of design gets monotonous. There are always the traditional standbys like having students find a magazine picture and label the elements and principles, but I was looking for something more creative. With the holiday season in full swing I wanted to make a gingerbread house for a friend so I decided to make the inside of a gingerbread house using the elements and principles of design. Not into the whole gingerbread thing? The same idea can be used to create a diorama out of a shoe box and it will save you the time baking.
Another great way to teach students how to bake in mass quantity, maintain quality control, and market food attractively is to sell boxes of several kinds of Christmas cookies. My students made boxes of 3 dozen Christmas cookies including peanut butter kisses, chocolate crinkle, Russian Tea Cakes, gingerbread, sugar, raspberry thumb prints and coconut macaroons. The community generously supports the fundraiser often profusely thanking me for making their holidays easier.
Given a basic knowledge of how to make homemade pasta and how to deep fry, students will synthesize these methods to create cannolis. This recipe is one that I created after much experimenting due to a “zero tolerance” alcohol policy that does not allow us to use any form of alcohol in our recipes. That being said, the shells taste good but may not taste as authentic as one might like. My goal was for the students to be able to learn the process more than the taste.