Looking for a fun family activity? Want to get into the holiday spirit (or keep it lasting just a little bit longer?!)? Have a little architect or construction worker looking for a challenge? The Marvelous Mouse has a recipe for you!
Why does the Marvelous Mouse love this recipe? It teaches math skills (like any recipe that involves measuring...), but also involves tracing and cutting, and it's the perfect recipe to really get creative!
Few tips from the Marvelous Mouse to engage your little ones while cooking --
* Try giving your child a special dish on the side to be the 'taste tester'....tasting as you go is not only one of the "secrets" to great cooking, but makes it fun as well.
* Make up stories about who is going to live in the house -- the pigs? a mouse? could an elephant fit?...
* Make this recipe over two or three days / sittings:
- First day, make the cookie patterns (fun art project);
- Second day, make the gingerbread; and
- Third day, make the icing and decorate!
* Have your child help 'clean up' afterwards. Give them a sponge, some fun brushes, and a container to make washing dishes fun.
1.) 1/2 cup butter (I cheat by getting it slightly melty in the microwave)
2.) 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3.) 1/4 cup molasses
4.) 1 tablespoon cinnamon (or more, if you're like my kids and go through about a bottle a week!)
5.) 1 tablespoon ground ginger
6.) 1 & 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves (tip: if you have a coffee grinder or spice grinder, whole cloves ground fresh is the best!)
7.) 1 teaspoon baking soda
8.) 2 cups all-purpose flour
9.) 2 tablespoons water (tip: add more water if dough will not come together/is too crumbly)
Gingerbread Directions, i.e., making the walls, roof, etc.:
* In a large bowl, mix (i.e., 'cream') the first seven ingredients together until smooth. (Tip: you can use a mixer (if you're up to hauling it out...it can be entertaining for the kids!) or use beaters (also fun for the kids!), but I've used a spoon and it worked just as well).
* Blend in the rest of the ingredients. The dough will be stiff. Cover and put in fridge to chill until firm (about half an hour). (Tip: If trying to accomplish the entire recipe in one sitting/day, this is a great time to make the icing)
* Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
* Cut out your cookie patterns/templates with any kind of paper.
- 3" X 5" for the front and back of the house (use the same pattern twice or make two pieces this size). (Tip: if your child likes cars, like mine does, you can cut a 'garage' out of one of these pieces.)
- 3" X 5&1/2" for the roof (use the same pattern twice or make two pieces this size).
- 3" wide X 3" to roof line, peaking at 5 & 1/2" from the base -- this is for the front and back of the house (i.e., the sides) (use the same pattern twice or make two pieces this size).
- You can make a chimney or entryway to the house. For an entryway, use 1" X 1&1/2" pieces to make two sides and a roof (i.e., four pieces) with a front door/entryway that is 2" wide by 1&1/2 " to the roofline, peaking at 2&1/2" from the base.
* Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper and roll the dough out with a steam roller (aka rolling pin)
* With a sharp knife, cut around each of the cookie pattern pieces, leaving them in place on the cookie sheet.
* Bake for about 15 minutes or until dough feels firm.
* Put cookie patterns back on the gingerbread and re-cut/trim shapes. Let cool on the sheet.
* After the pieces cool, gently remove the scraps around the shapes to 'extract' your construction pieces. (Tip: Enjoy eating the scraps with a cup of tea, milk, or cocoa! You've earned it!)
Making the Mortar
Using an electric mixer, mix the following ingredients until smooth and thin enough to press into a pastry bag:
- 3 & 3/4 cup powdered sugar;
- 2 large egg whites; and
- 1 teaspoon almond (or vanilla) extract (Tip: add more if necessary).
* Glue the sides to the front and back of the house using the mortar (Tip: use a generous amount of icing! It only takes a minute or so to stick together, but you can prop of/support in the meantime with anything handy...jar of crayons, sippy cup...etc.).
* Glue the roof.
* Glue on the chimney and/or entryway.
* Decorate! and glue on any desired pieces -- candy canes, gumdrops, licorice...sprinkles. Or just keep it simple!
* Put in safe place to fully dry.
* Most importantly, get messy and have FUN!!!
If you've tried the recipe above, would love to see your photos! Have any questions? just send me a note -- would love to hear from you :-)