This is a holiday favorite because it’s delicious and fun to make.
Kids as young as age 2 can help with basic tasks. We make gingerbread monthly with our friends. It’s a huge hit and a great learning experience for the kids.
As with any shared baking task, it teaches them basic math or science when they have to measure out the ingredients. Cookie cutters and sprinkles help them work on coordination. And, it’s edible art!
Cookie cutters are fun to find at kitchen stores or on-line. Most can also easily be used for Playdough.
Note: In the recipe below, I recommend re-using the measuring cups when tempering the eggs to save on dishes.
Place a non-stick saucepan on a burner, on Low. Melt together these ingredients:
¾ cup Brown Sugar, lightly packed
¾ cup Molasses (for easy removal, spray the measuring cup with cooking spray first – or just scrape out the molasses with small spatula)
¾ cup Butter, unsalted (or just omit salt below)
2.5 oz Organic Prune Puree, such as Gerber’s
2 Tbsp Orange Marmalade (or substitute more Brown Sugar)
You can stir occasionally with a wooden spoon, or just swish the pan around while you’re working on the next step. Once melted, remove from heat. The house will smell delicious!
While the above ingredients are melting, combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl:
2 2/3 cups Whole Wheat Flour
1 cup Almond Meal
1 tsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Baking Soda
1 Tbsp Powdered Ginger
2 tsp Cinnamon
½ tsp each Nutmeg, and Cloves
¼ tsp each Salt, and All Spice
In the 1 cup Measuring Cup that you already used, add:
1 Egg, and beat slightly with a fork
Now, in the ½ cup Measuring Cup that you already used, scoop out ½ cup of the warm Molasses Mixture and mix it with the Egg to temper it (otherwise, if you mix the Egg directly into the warm Molasses Mixture, it will turn into scrambled eggs).
Add the Molasses Mixture into the Dry Ingredients. Beat with a hand-held blender until just blended, then add in the Egg Mixture. Blend about one minute more, or until thoroughly mixed.
Spray a large storage bowl (ideally the kind with a matching plastic lid) with a non-stick spray. I prefer to use a glass bowl.
Scrape the warm and fragrant dough into this bowl then cover and refrigerate until cooled through. Expect this to take a couple of hours – or just do it the night before.
When dough is chilled, preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Lightly Flour a Wooden Board. Roll out half of the dough at a time with a Rolling Pin. ¼ of the dough typically equals one cookie sheet of cookies. (If you prefer less cookies, freeze any portion of the dough to thaw and bake at a later date.)
Let the kids choose the Cookie Cutters, and help them cut out the shapes in the dough.
Place each cookie on a Greased Cookie Sheet.
Now, the fun part: DECORATE! Use your child’s favorite sprinkles, colored sugar, nuts, etc. Or, just dust lightly with Turbinado Sugar for a bit of a crunch.
Cookie time varies greatly depending on how thin you rolled the dough, and what shape cookie cutters you used. For example, a reindeer with thin legs and antlers will cook more quickly than a solid Christmas tree shape. It helps to group similar shapes together for even baking.
Bake just one batch first to check cooking time. Check after 7-9 minutes. Thicker shapes may take up to 15 minutes. Also, cooking time depends on whether you prefer your cookies crunchy, or soft and chewy.
Recipe makes approximately 4 cookies sheets. Store in a closed container on the counter or in the fridge.
These are delicious with cold milk – or a cup of hot tea for mom. They also make ideal gifts around the holidays (or to take to bake sales) because everyone loves gingerbread, the cookies hold up well during transport, and they are so cute. Enjoy making these again and again!