French-born Nicole Winters enjoys telling the story of serving her favorite chocolate dessert from her childhood at a Christmas party gathering of over 20 friends and family. When her 3-year-old grandson, Jacob, stepped up to the dessert table after the meal, a woman offered him a small bowl and asked, “Would you like some chocolate pudding?” “It’s not pudding, it’s mousse au chocolat!” he confidently exclaimed with a perfect French accent.

“I was so surprised,” said Nicole. “He had just been in the kitchen cooking with me the day before when I taught him how to say those French words. Cooking together is an enjoyable way for me to pass on family food traditions from my background and culture to my children and grandchildren, which I believe is so important,” she added.

Since her easy blender version of rich “mousse au chocolat” (chocolate mousse) doesn’t use raw eggs like the traditional French recipe, and it comes together effortlessly in just 10 minutes, it captured my attention for our family holiday menus.

I gave it a whirl in our blender, poured it into small dessert bowls, and let it chill in the refrigerator overnight. Topped with fresh raspberries or a dollop of whipped cream, it’s a keeper.
Makes 6 servings
1 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup whole milk
Cream cheese (3 ounces), cut into several pieces
Fresh raspberries or whipped cream for topping
1. Place chocolate chips, sugar and vanilla in your blender.
2. Heat milk in a saucepan to almost scalding. It should be steaming. Immediately pour it into the blender over the chocolate chips, sugar and vanilla, cover and blend for 30 seconds.
3. Add cream cheese pieces and blend until smooth.
4. Pour into six small dessert dishes or a dessert bowl. Refrigerate at least two hours, until set.
5. To serve, top each dish or serving dish with a few raspberries or a dollop of whipped cream. A little sprig of fresh mint is a nice added touch for a special occasion.




Dessert is extra-special for kids when it comes in an edible container.

Here’s a cute little lemony crisp cookie cup, ideal for filling with pudding, fresh fruit or ice cream. Top the filling with candles if there is a birthday party in the house.

You also might want to make a batch for a brunch dessert to mimic mini baskets. They’ll be perfect … and memorable with a scoop of icy sorbet nestled in toasted shredded coconut “grass.”

Kids can be involved from the start with this thin cookie recipe that is easy to combine, using just flour, powdered sugar, eggs and lemons. No need for a mixer. So, grab a big spoon, whisk, grater and mixing bowls to get started.


Makes 20 cookie cups

1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup powdered sugar

3 egg whites

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 or 3 whole washed lemons for shaping cookie cups

Position rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cover two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

  1. Let your child measure and sift flour and sugar in a mixing bowl.
  2. Use a whisk to lightly beat egg whites in one small bowl. In another bowl, lightly beat yolks.
  3. Add egg whites, yolks, lemon zest, juice and vanilla to the flour and sugar mixture. Mix well until smooth with a large spoon. Let set 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, let your child draw five 5-inch circles on the back of the parchment paper with a pencil, using a saucer as a guide. Turn paper over, with circles showing through. Repeat for second cookie sheet.
  5. Drop a heaping tablespoon of batter in the middle of each of the circles. An adult should carefully spread the batter to fill the shape. It will be very thin. (I use an angled icing spatula.)
  6. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until edges brown. Remove cookies quickly, and with the assistance of your child, form cupped shapes with the bottom sides of the cookies up, using the lemons as molds. Hold them for a few seconds until the shape is set, then place on a cooling rack. (Use a clean towel between your hands and the hot cookie to form the fluted shape, if you wish.)
  7. Repeat with remaining dough.

Serve as individual desserts filled with fruit, pudding, flavored yogurt, ice cream or sorbet.




What’s in your refrigerator right now? Mine is in a bit of disarray with the basics — milk, eggs, yogurt, condiments, a few nondescript leftovers, and wilting arugula. Now, if you open Nancy Nyberg’s fridge door in Naperville, Illinois, you eye her delectable homemade fudge sauce in neatly stacked jars in the back corner. Any day, month or year.

No wonder her four grandkids think she is the sweetest grandmother ever. Her signature “Heavenly Hot Fudge Sauce,” which she has been making for 20 years, is now affectionately renamed “Mormor’s Hot Fudge” (“mormor” is Swedish for “grandmother”).

Granddaughter Paige, 9, makes it with Nancy to sell annually at a country fair by their summer place in Bethany Beach, Michigan. “She learns how to measure, pour and stir until the sauce is ‘just right,'” says Nancy. There’s a bit of finance that goes into the mix, too. “We shop together and figure out how much each jar should sell for to cover costs with enough left over to give to a nonprofit project. We have fun learning and cooking together. It’s really more about the relationship-building with my granddaughter than the fudge sauce,” she says.

Here’s the recipe with steps to involve school-age kids.


Makes 1 quart

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate bar (in the baking section of your market)

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 cups sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 12-fluid-ounce can evaporated milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Let kids break up chocolate and place in the top of a double boiler with the butter. Stir until melted together. Add salt.

Stir in sugar gradually, making sure it is completely blended before making another addition. Mixture will become very thick and dry.

Stir in evaporated milk, a little at a time. (Shake the can well before adding.)

Continue to cook about 10 minutes to blend the flavors and dissolve the sugar.

An adult should remove from the heat and set on a trivet. Add vanilla and stir. Serve warm over ice cream.

To store in containers: Pour into a quart-size measuring cup with spout and pour into storage containers such as Mason jars. Keep refrigerated