One of my favorite types of children's book is the kind that has a recipe to go with it! Pairing such a book with a cookie cutter or baking supplies can make a wonderful gift for any child.
Yesterday my daughter borrowed the book Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett from her Kindergarten class. It inspired a project and a splendid gift idea.
Our home library plays host to a few Jan Brett favorites ~ The Mitten, The Hat, and Hedgie's Surprise. The girls and I love these warm-hearted stories, and we've spent many a happy time exploring Brett's intricate illustrations, and searching for the Hedgie in the elaborate borders of many of her books.
Gingerbread Friends was a treat that did not disappoint! It was a sweet story about the Gingerbread Baby and his search for friends. My observant little one was the first to notice that the borders of each page contained a piece of a recipe for making gingerbread cookies. Before you could say Gingersnap, she had the ingredients out on the counter, and we were on our way to baking up a batch of little gingerbread friends! Calling on our basic knowledge of cookie baking, we improvised the directions and used the proportions for the ingredients called for in the book.
What resulted was a perfect gingerbread dough and adorable little cookies! I used the decorations I had on hand, and was thankful that I didn't have to look too long to find my cookie cutter. My daughter insisted that we make a little kewpie tip on the top of each gingerbread cutout to make them look like the Gingerbread Baby from the book. Today, she's so excited about taking the book and the batch of little gingerbread friends to her class to share.
Visit your local library or stop by a book store to pick up a copy of Jan Brett's Gingerbread Friends for you and your family. I've put my directions together with Jan Brett's ingredients below to make it simple to bake up a batch of your own cookies. I think it would make a delightful gift for any child to partner a copy of the book with a cookie cutter and a festive oven mitt or spatula. In fact, I'm heading to the bookstore today to get started on a few Gingerbread Friend gift bundles myself!
adapted from Gingerbread Friends by Jan Brett
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cups butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
mini chocolate chips for eyes
Other candies for decoration
Preheat oven to 375.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet.
In a medium bowl, add flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Stir with a whisk to thoroughly combine.
In the bowl of a standing mixer*, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and molasses and beat to combine.
*If you don't have a standing mixer, this can be done in a large bowl with a hand-held mixer.
On low speed, stir in flour & spice mixture to form a cohesive dough. Remove from bowl. Form dough into a ball, then flatten, with your hands into a flat circle. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or freeze for 20 minutes.
Roll dough out to a 1/4" thickness on a lightly floured board. Use a cookie cutter to cut gingerbread shapes. To make the kewpie top, simply pinch the dough on the top of each gingerbread figure's head.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven. While still hot, insert mini chocolate chips (pointy side down) for eyes, and a red candy for a nose. To make a mouth, I waited till the cookies were just warm and used the end of a popsicle stick to indent a mouth.
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