Cooking with Kids is an ongoing series where we share recipes that are easy enough to make with a two-year-old. If you’re new to the series, our first post that provides our detailed tips for cooking with little ones; subsequent posts are less detailed, but each contains recipe-specific ideas for working with your little ones in the kitchen.
Ahhh, I meant to share this post before Christmas so that you could add yet another cookie to your baking list, but time got away from me, so here we are with a delicious ginger cookie that tastes just as good on a cold day in January as it would during the hustle and bustle of Christmas.
And I’m still smiling about how this came to be my favorite ginger cookie recipe. Calder’s sister made them a few years ago at Thanksgiving. That first batch was delicious and reminded me of the ginger chews that I used to buy in Trader Joe’s. I was so smitten that I asked for the recipe. She sent it along, and from her notes, I could see that it came from the grandma of a good friend. As I was baking these with Alex, I looked more closely at the bottle (more on that below) and realized that the recipe on the Grandma’s Molasses bottle matched the recipe I was making! Ingredient for ingredient and word for word. So, maybe you already know this recipe?
I seldom think to look at the recipes shared on ingredient packages, but I’m starting to realize that perhaps those really are the tried-and-true favorites. I love using the Tollhouse recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and one of our wedding cakes came straight from the Hershey’s cocoa powder box. So, why should it be any different with my (now) favorite ginger cookies?
A few (new) ways to have kids helping with this recipe:
- Cut the cold butter into tabs and throw it in the bowl. More on my use of cold butter here.
- Practice counting with the piles of brown sugar. Since you have to pack the brown sugar into the measuring cup, use something smaller than recommended (I used a 1/3 of a cup). Tell your assistant how many “cups” of brown sugar they will have to add, and then count them as you go. This is a great activity to do with brown sugar because it holds its cup shape relatively well in the bowl, so your kiddo can look into the bowl and easily count the piles of brown sugar. This can lead to mini addition/subtraction lessons (“we have two piles in the bowl, but need three, how many more should we add?”), and eventually you can work up to discussions on fractions (“if we’re using the 1/3 measuring cup and we need to measure out one full cups, how many scoops do we put in? what if we use the 1/4 measuring cup?”).
- Use one of the smaller measuring spoons to dole out the spices. For a cookie like this, I think that having the relative portion of spices in order is important, but the exact measurements are not (who cares if you go slightly over or under when measuring out the cinnamon and ginger?). So give your kiddo a 1/2 tsp measuring spoon and let them measure.
If you’ve read previous Cooking with Kids posts, you know that I’m a big proponent of letting kids taste and smell the raw ingredients. In this recipe, you can encourage them to taste and smell the molasses and spices. I think of molasses as being a strong flavor, but to my surprise, Alex loved it!
It was his love that then led me to wonder what molasses was made of, and that’s when I looked at the bottle and discovered two surprises: 1. molasses is made of… molasses! and 2. I was making the exact recipe printed on the jar!
So, what is molasses? A quick Wikipedia search explained that it’s the viscous by-product from the refining of sugarcane or sugar beets into refined sugar. As the cane or beet juice boils, sugar molecules crystalize and are removed. After a few boilings, the dark syrup, called molasses is left. What’s cool is that vitamins and minerals that were squeezed out of the plants also remain. A single tablespoon of molasses contains an average of 20% of the daily recommended serving of calcium, magnesium, Iron, and Vitamin B6!
If that isn’t enough to convince you that these cookies are good for you, I don’t know what is! In fact, I’m certain that we have to bake up another batch this week. They’ll be the perfect snack to take to the mountains on our next ski adventure.
- 3/4 cup butter or shortening
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- granulated sugar for rolling
- In the bowl of an electric mixer cream the butter, brown sugar, egg, and molasses.
- Stir in the remaining dry ingredients.
- Place the dough in the refrigerator to chill for about an hour.
- When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375F.
- Roll the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in a bowl of granulated sugar.
- Place the cookies on a baking sheet that is covered in either parchment paper or a silpat.
- Bake 10-12 minutes; taking them out earlier for softer cookies and later for snaps. Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about one minute before moving to a cooling rack.