Cooking with the kids can be fun


Hello everyone! I have a special guest in the kitchen with me for this edition of Salt magazine: my niece, Taylor Ann Hemming, and her three little boys — Coleson, Branson and Pierson — making caramel apple eclair cake.

I am so glad to see moms taking their children in the kitchen and letting them be part of the meal preparation and letting them see what goes on to prepare a meal. I guess I am old-fashioned, but it’s good to see families sitting at the same table having a meal. I know it’s hard when you work all day to come home and start dinner, but I think it’s worth it. The little ones can set the table and help clear the table after dinner is finished.

I am proud of you, Taylor, after working all day as a surgical technician at Highland District Hospital in Hillsboro and then to come home and take the time with your boys — you will be so glad you did. Thank you for sharing this wonderful dessert with all of us.

Coleson and Branson think this caramel apple eclair cake is delicious, and that’s good enough for me. Enjoy!

Caramel apple

eclair cake

Note — Prepare the apples ahead of time. They need to be room temperature.


5 lbs. of Granny Smith apples

1 cup of white sugar

1 tbsp. cinnamon

1-2 tbsp. all-purpose flour (if needed)


2 boxes of vanilla instant pudding (3.4 ounces each)

3 1/2 cups of whole milk

1/2 cup sour cream

8 ounces Cool Whip (thawed)


21 whole cinnamon graham crackers

16 ounces of caramel apple dip

Directions for apples

In a large saucepan, combine diced, peeled apples, sugar and cinnamon over medium/low heat. Cook and stir until the apples are tender. If the apples have a lot of juice, sprinkle two tablespoons of flour lightly over the apples and stir until thickened. Remove the apples from the heat and them to cool to room temperature.

Directions for filling

In a large bowl, whisk together pudding and milk. Stir in the sour cream and Cool Whip.


Line the bottom of a 9-inch by 13-inch pan with seven graham crackers. Top with half of the apples. Spoon half of the pudding mix over the apples. Repeat those steps one more time.

Add the last layer of graham crackers on top. Heat the caramel dip for 30 seconds, mix, then heat for another 30 seconds or until softened (not hot or totally melted).

Spread the caramel evenly over the graham crackers. Refrigerate for eight hours or overnight.

Sharon Hughes is the advertising manager at The Times-Gazette. She is also a mother, grandmother and chef.

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