December 1, 2010

GINGERBREAD FRIENDS -- Read the Book and Bake up some Memories with Your Family

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!

Gingerbread Friends
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.  



  1. The Ginger-Cupies are adorable!

    The last time I made gingerbread people was for a friend's Christmas Eve birthday cake. She wanted a Dalek cake and my initial plans weren't coming out well enough for my standards so I made, first, a gingerbread Dalek and then a bunch of gingerbread victims (the ABC Gingerbread cutters from Fred finally got used). It was horrific in the best possible way--she loved it :)

    Happy Holidays!

  2. What a wonderful gift idea. I love the little points on the head of your Ginger Bread people.

  3. What a fun project! Your "kewpie" gingerbread men are adorable!

    I loved Jan Brett's books when I was little, although I haven't seen "Gingerbread Baby." You can just get lost in the details of her pictures. I remember that she would draw individual sweater stitches in "The Mitten."

  4. That's one of my little one's favorite Christmas books. He got it from his school last year as a present.

  5. Jan Brett is one of my favorite authors. I use to do a thematic unit with her books in Decemeber when I taught first and kindergarten.

  6. How adorable! I am in love with those kewpie headed gingerbread men she made, so cute! :D Totally going to do that next time we make gingerbread men.

    Hey, by the way, thanks for your comment on my blog for my SITS day today!

  7. Hi Jenn, thanks for stopping by my blog. I must admit that I don't know what a turophile is, but I do like all things offbeat, odd, and whimsical! You have a very nice blog, and many blogs, too! I love your Mayflower pie boat!

  8. That's such a cute idea - fabulous :)

  9. Popped in from SITS! This is such a good idea. I love gingerbread men!

  10. Wow! I love that you actually followed through after reading the book. SUCH a great way to learn. Thanks for the recipe!

  11. How sweet that you and your daughter baked these! I love that she noticed the ingredients and started getting them for you two to bake. GREAT idea to make these and give as a gift with the book! THat would be fantastic for neighbors, teachers, etc! LOVE IT. Thanks for linking to Saturday Swap.


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