December 21, 2011

What's Your 'Perfect' Gingerbread Man?

The best classic Gingerbread Cookies recipe!  It just wouldn't be Christmas without these.


Each year at Christmas time, I do the tradition of gingerbread with my little 1st graders as we're learning about different holiday traditions.  I'm always surprised to see how many of the students have never tried gingerbread before.  This year was no different ... over half my class had never tried it.  I love to introduce my students to new things!  I've discovered that my idea of the perfect gingerbread man is drastically different than a 1st grader's idea of the perfect gingerbread man.  Take a look at the photographs below and you'll see what I mean.

Here's my perfect gingerbread man ... just plain.  No frosting.  No icing.  No decorations.  Just 'nekked,' some might say.  I like to taste the wonderful spicy gingerbread flavor without any competition from sweet icings or embellishments.

My idea of the perfect gingerbread man ... just 'nekked!'

Here's 1st graders' idea of the perfect gingerbread man ... their philosophy = the more frosting the better!  It's so fun to watch them having a big ol' time decorating their gingerbread.  (I especially love the cookie on the bottom right with the long red hair.)
1st graders' idea of the perfect gingerbread man

On 'Gingerbread Afternoon,' I set up three stations in the room that the students rotate through.  At two of the stations, students work on the gift we make for their parents - a gingerbread ornament with a photograph of the student as the gingerbread "man's" face, and a gingerbread house gift bag made with a brown paper lunch sack.  At the third station ... they get to decorate and eat their gingerbread cookie.  And they love it!

What made this year's gingerbread stations extra fun was that my Mom and Dad came to help out.  I loved having them there!  My Mom facilitated the ornament station.  My Dad helped me with the cookie station.  It was my Dad's first time volunteering in my classroom, and he was so sweet with the kids.  We worked together to demonstrate decorating a cookie for each group, and then we'd let them have at it themselves.  Fun, fun, fun.  It might be one of my favorite 1st grade days each year.

The recipe I use for my gingerbread cookies is adapted from Muster Day Gingerbread in Valerie Barrett's The Complete Book of Gingerbread.  The recipe gets its name from the military Muster Day held in New England each year.  According to the recipe note:

"In New England before the Civil War, the first Tuesday of every June was Muster or Training Day.  All men from 18 to 45 were required to go for military training and many of them took their families along.  It became a festive occasion and gingerbread was an essential part of the day's menu," (p. 18).

So, whether you prefer gingerbread 'just nekked' or the 1st-grade-way, enjoy creating your perfect gingerbread man! 

I wish you a very merry Christmas filled with tasty treats and wonderful times with family and friends.


Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from: Muster Day Gingerbread in The Complete Book of Gingerbread by Valerie Barrett
Ingredients
1/4 c. brown sugar
Generous 1/3 c. molasses
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c. butter, cut into chunks
1 egg
2 1/2 to 3 c. all-purpose flour


Directions
1.  Put sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves in a pan* and heat to boiling point.  Stir in baking soda.  Take off heat and pour mixture over the butter in a bowl.

2.  Stir until the butter has melted.  Break egg into the mixture and then work in the flour.  Mix gently together until it becomes a smooth dough.

3.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

4.  When chilled and stiffened slightly, roll out and cut out cookies with cookie cutters (I roll mine a bit thick ... probably about 1/4" thick.  I like thick, soft cookies).

5.  Place cookies on a lightly greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 325 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

6.  Decorate with icing, if desired.

(*Note - Place your brown sugar, molasses, and spices in a saucepan larger than you think you'll need.  When you stir in the baking soda, the mixture foams up on you!)




This post is linked with Tea Party Tuesday hosted by Sweetology, Mrs. Fox's Sweets Party hosted by Mrs. Fox's Sweets, These Chicks Cooked hosted by This Chick Cooks, Tuesday Talent Show hosted by Chef in Training, Full Plate Thursday hosted by Miz Helen's Country Cottage, Creative Juice Thursday hosted by Momnivore's Dilemma, Share Your Creations hosted by Kristen's Creations, Foodie Friday hosted by Designs by Gollum, Inspiration Friday hosted by At the Picket Fence, Sweets for a Saturday hosted by Sweet as Sugar Cookies, Sweet Indulgences Sunday hosted by A Well-Seasoned Life, Christmas in JulyChristmas Link Party12 Days of Christmas Cookies.

10 comments:

  1. What a great post! How cool that your parents helped out! I'm not surprised at the amount of frosting on the first graders' gingerbread men! My perfect gingerbread man would have a little frosting--not near as much as the first graders' men! Have a very Merry Christmas Tracey!

    ReplyDelete
  2. I love this post..memories of cookie decorating this time of year are so precious to me.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think I'll have a debonair gingerbread man. Could you do a Clark Gable-esque cookie? Yum!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This sounds like so much fun and a learning experience for your first graders! Adorable cookies!

    ReplyDelete
  5. This looks like so much fun! I'll take one the 1st grade way with lots of frosting! Thanks for sharing at Mrs Foxs Sweet Party :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi, Tracey. I don't know if you read comments to old posts. Could you please post the Tortellini Salad recipe pictured in "My Mom Throw's a Great Party {Party Series Part 1}"? I simply can't take my eyes from this picture.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm loving the color and smooth look to your ginger bread men. I'm going to have to try this recipe. Thank you for posting. Pat

    ReplyDelete
  8. Those are adorable!... Great party idea too! And I love the name of your blog!
    Merry Christmas!
    Rainey @ The Project Table

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Tracey,
    Your Ginger Bread Men are just adorable, I just love Ginger Bread Men and your recipe looks great! Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday. I am wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas!
    Come Back Soon,
    Miz Helen

    ReplyDelete
  10. Looks like your students had a lot of fun. I know they enjoyed making their gingerbread men/women. Thanks for sharing on Sweet Indulgences Sunday.

    ReplyDelete

I love your comments. I read and appreciate each and every one. Thank you so much for visiting The Kitchen is My Playground! {NOTE: Captcha word verification is on to turn away the 'spambots' ... I apologize for the commenting inconvenience!}

Share Buttons

Get widget