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Le Chef à l’école: Molten chocolate cakes

Those of you reading my blog for a while now might remember my very first foray into cooking with kids happened around this time last year.  Actually I had been doing the Chef à l’école programme for a few years but last year was when I started wondering if I might be able to run a cooking club for boys by myself. And thus, Les Petits Chefs was born!

Since not all my own students can participate in my cooking club, I still wanted them to experience the magic that is cooking so Chef à l’école came back to school this week with an all new recipe, for the fourth year in a row.  Basically it’s a programme that comes into schools to teach students a little bit about Acadian history and they cook one dish. The workshop takes place in French (with a little English if the students need it).

This year, the boys were thrilled to learn they would be making Gâteau Fondant au Chocolat – Molten Chocolate Cakes – and a chocolate chai tea.  Because you can never have too much chocolate on the second last day of school, right?

For whatever reason, the boys all fight to be the tea-makers… It’s fun emptying the steeped tea into the serving pot, that’s for sure…

We were very clean cooks…

And got majorly excited to melt butter with chocolate chips…

We learned to cream eggs and sugar, by hand…

And did an amazing job…

When we were adding the chocolate/butter mix to the eggs and sugar, the boys’ excitement was palpable…

Then we got to bash away at the sifter full of flour and cocoa powder…

And then came the fun part… Getting the mix into the molds…

As you can see, by the end of the day, Chef Suzanne had resorted to piping bags to reduce the – ahem – mess.  The odd texture of the piped mixture is because it was an egg-free mix for a little boy with allergies…

Even though we had been pretty clean, there was still chocolate in places it should not have been…

But the end result?

Scrumptious! The best chocolate dessert ever (this from the boy with the egg-allergy!) Delicious! Amazing! “Can-I-have-more” good!

Even though I was literally exhausted at the end of the day (which was followed by regular Petits Chefs club too!), I can’t tell you how rewarding it is as a teacher to witness your students experiencing your subject outside the walls of the classroom.  For the most part, I don’t think the boys had much idea that they were speaking mostly in French – it was just very natural for them and they are so much more capable than they (and I, sometimes!) give themselves credit for. I was blown away by some of my more reticent students who were babbling on in French in their groups and even more blown away by how capable they are in terms of their cooking skills.  Even my Grade 3s and 4s (7-9 years old) were taking on all tasks with not a second thought – they never once considered they might not actually know what to do properly – just went in with great gusto and for the most part, succeeded.

There’s a lesson to be learned here that I see every week in my cooking club. Kids are SO MUCH MORE capable than many give them credit for. Most kids LOVE cooking and many kids who might not be so academically inclined often shine in the kitchen. Can you imagine having math lessons involving baking? Can you imagine how much more effective that might be for those kinesthetic learners who need to “do” to learn and who benefit from tangible, immediate results.  Can you imagine having “art in cooking” for those kids who don’t think they are very artistic but who can plate a mean dish? Definitely food for thought…

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34 Responses to Le Chef à l’école: Molten chocolate cakes

  1. Jackie December 16, 2010 at 07:09 #

    Amazing, Mardi! I love those shots of the boys with chocolate in ‘places it should not have been’!

    One of the reasons I considered going down the teaching route (though it would have been theatre education for me) was because it is so satisfying seeing your students learning and growing. You feel a real sense of accomplishment – I was certainly, and still am, incredibly proud of every child I’ve ever had under my tutelage.

    And with these wee cakes you had a delicious treat to dig into, too! Beautiful. Enjoy your Christmas break, you deserve it lady!

    Jax x

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite December 18, 2010 at 07:48 #

      Oh yes, the chocolate was no doube being licked off little fingers when I was not looking too ;-)

  2. penny aka jeroxie December 16, 2010 at 07:17 #

    Oh wow! I love this series of the posts the best… very inspiring and how lucky are those students as well.

  3. Belinda @zomppa December 16, 2010 at 07:34 #

    These little dudes are better bakers than me.

  4. Blog is the New Black December 16, 2010 at 07:55 #

    Lucky students!

  5. Roxan December 16, 2010 at 10:32 #

    All those little hands baking and cleaning are so adorable. I don’t doubt it’s completely exhausting but it must be so fun and rewarding! Who knows, maybe someday one (or more!) of them will be the next famous pastry chef.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite December 18, 2010 at 07:46 #

      Yes, the little hands get me every time! I have no doubt that some of these boys might end up in a kitchen somewhere!

  6. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction December 16, 2010 at 10:42 #

    That sounds like the perfect treat for the holidays! I’m sure all of your students loved it. Those cakes look fabulous!

  7. A Canadian Foodie December 16, 2010 at 16:04 #

    Yes, I can. That is what I do. I love what I do, too – and it is such a pleasure to see your joy. As a middle school, or junior high foods and language arts teacher (who has taught every subject) I have had the pleasure of developing a fraction program based upon cooking with the math department. Most kids can do the math on paper, but when it comes to practical application, it is shocking to see how difficult that knowledge is to translate to reality. And, of course, some cannot do it. This year I was assigned the first Literacy class I have ever taught. That is a class of 28 students (with an aide) at the grade 9 level that read and write between grades 3 and 4. What a miracle that I had taught every one of these students how to cook for two years prior to having them in this setting. Each was a STAR in the kitchen. I had NO idea that most were struggling like this academically as they were absolute GIANTS in my kitchen. That gave me an incredible foundation from which to work with them academically. I love what I do, for the very same reason. If they make it, they will eat it.
    :)
    Valerie

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite December 18, 2010 at 07:45 #

      It’s so great that kids who can’t always succeed in the classroom get chances to succeed in other areas. I am so pleased to provide experiences like this for my guys!

  8. Tami December 16, 2010 at 17:38 #

    Mmmmmmm……we’re having a morning tea at work this morning. How wonderful it would be if some of those lil cakes miraculously turned up!!

  9. Dinners & Dreams December 16, 2010 at 17:55 #

    Molten cake is a dessert I’ve always loved but never made. It sort of intimidates me a little.

  10. Geoff December 16, 2010 at 20:17 #

    I think what this post serves to emphasise is that teaching is never better than when it engages kids. And I think, judging by Les Petits Chefs and the latest post, that cooking or even just food preparation is a way of taking things out of the academic and abstract and making it real. Your thoughts in respect of say, mixing cooking and maths is not such a stretch. It was a great post and rounded off the “petits chefs” theme very well this year.

  11. Melissa (The Sword in the Scone) December 16, 2010 at 20:51 #

    Yum! I love molten chocolate cakes. Don’t know if I have the skill to make them though.

  12. veggietestkitchen December 16, 2010 at 21:25 #

    Is there any way that you can post the egg free recipe? I’m always dying for really good egg free dessert recipes, and I’m sure yours is going to be fabulous.

    veggietestkitchen (at) gmail (dot) com

  13. Nancy@acommunaltable December 16, 2010 at 23:11 #

    You are so right Mardi – kids are far more capable than we think!!
    We have a culinary program in our high school and the kids who participate are amazing – none are stellar academic students but they are truly gifted in the kitchen. We need more programs like this in our schools!!!

  14. K A B L O O E Y December 17, 2010 at 13:09 #

    What a marvelous post! The pictures are terrific, the kids’ reactions so gratifying. Just great. And the best teaching experiences I ever had were with teens who had never done well in school, socially, etc. who absolutely excelled at filmmaking. They blossomed and were overflowing with enthusiasm, gratitude, pride. I’m sure the same would hold true in the kitchen. There are SO MANY types of intelligence that school doesn’t measure.
    PS: You knew that egg-free piped chocolate shot looked a bit… well… scatological; I know you did. That’s why the caveat. Too funny.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite December 18, 2010 at 07:14 #

      Carrie if you think *I* thought that, you can *just* imagine what the boys were saying LOL! Totally agree about school not always being a real measure of intelligence!

  15. sara @CaffeIna December 18, 2010 at 01:09 #

    That’s so cool! I need to find out if there is something similar close to where I live. Otherwise, we need to import Le Chef a l’ecole (and all the accents that I don’t have on the keyboard :) )

  16. Anna Johnston December 19, 2010 at 21:07 #

    Your so right with this Mardi… kids will just get on in there & do it.., its awesome. Great environment your giving them with this… fantastic.

  17. Conor @ Hold the Beef December 20, 2010 at 19:12 #

    Next time I find chocolate in places that seemingly defy logic I shall say I’m channelling my inner Canadian child.

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