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The recipe is written on a chalkboard door before the class starts. (Image: Courtesy Rina Rapuano)

Occupy the kids during winter break with a cooking class

Thanksgiving is over, and now it’s time for parents to worry about the next holiday hurdle—what to do with the wee ones during the two-week stretch of winter break. If your little one is as addicted to “The Great British Baking Show” as my daughter is, we’ve got at least one activity to break up what can feel like an eternal school holiday: cooking classes.

Around the holidays, hitting a class at Cookology in Dulles Town Center means you can either drop off your child and go shopping for last-minute gifts in the mall, or take the class, too, and squeeze in some much-needed quality time during an otherwise hectic season. My daughter and I signed up for a Cupcake Wars class, and it was a lot of fun working together (okay, letting her do most of the work) to bake a batch of fall-themed cupcakes and decorate them for judging. We tied for third place—and I learned that my daughter is pretty competitive!

She reports that her favorite part was the frosting, but I think she means eating it since I’m the one who put in the sweat equity. This class definitely made me appreciate my KitchenAid stand mixer, since we creamed and beat the buttercream and batter by hand. It was totally worth it, though, and my daughter had a blast with all the measuring and decorating. I, of course, loved not having to bother with any cleanup.

Cookology conducts parent-child classes and a Young Chefs series for budding cooks ages 5–17, with or without a grownup. There are also mini cooking boot camps during the holidays; classes for adults; birthday parties; and classes for families. If Sterling isn’t convenient for you, the cooking school is also nearly ready to open a second location in Ballston Quarter shopping center, likely in early December.

For those who live in the city or have a specific culinary interest, a few restaurants around town also offer periodic classes. For instance, Matchbox hosts occasional pizza-making classes for kids and parents at many of its locations throughout the DMV. They also host pizza-making birthday parties or other celebrations on weekends.

SER Restaurant in Ballston has also gotten into the act with a “SER Kids” cooking class brunch series that offers instruction on how to cook sweets like pancakes, baklava, pumpkin pie and churros. The Sunday classes start at 12:30 p.m. and are complimentary for brunch diners and their children.

In addition, Q by Peter Chang in Rockville hosts occasional dumpling-making classes for all ages that starts with a short demonstration, moves into hands-on practice and a seated lunch where participants get to eat their work. Chefs Peter and Lisa Chang are on hand to instruct participants in dough-making and dumpling-wrapping techniques.