For many families, holiday baking is an annual tradition, and cookies are especially easy to make — preschoolers and kindergartners can help out with many of the simpler tasks in the kitchen (aside from licking cookie dough off the beaters). Ask your kid to crack an egg, measure the flour, or roll the balls of dough in sugar before putting them in the oven.
The project: explore the spicy origins of common cookies
Know your ingredients
This baking task presents an excellent opportunity for your youngster to do some learning: What’s in these cookies? Make preparing them a lesson in geography — and the importance of understanding where your food comes from.
Ginger, most likely a native plant of India, is a pungent root. Cinnamon is actually the bark of a small evergreen tree originally from Sri Lanka. The dried berries from a tree that grows throughout the Caribbean’s Greater Antilles islands, southern Mexico, and Central America are the source of allspice. Black peppercorns are the dried fruit of a flowering vine native to southern India.
While you’re preparing the ingredients, use this background knowledge as the seed of a taste test. Let your child sample the spices and see if he or she can guess what they are.
What you’ll need
Ginger spice cookies
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- A pinch of fresh black pepper
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 large egg
- 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar, for rolling
Make it happen
Combine the spices and have your child stir them. Use a mixer to cream the butter and brown sugar, then add the molasses. Stir in the egg and dry ingredients.
Divide the dough in half, and freeze for an hour. Divide each section of chilled dough into 12 pieces, and roll these into balls with the palm of your hand. Roll them in sugar (a great task for children), and dip the bottom of a glass in sugar and press down on the cookies until they’re about a quarter- to a half-inch thick.
Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.