My friend Julia, who is a wonderful music teacher and a very accomplished cellist, recommended I try a gingerbread cookie recipe as a sensory play dough for preschoolers. This recipe doesn’t have eggs in it, so that also makes it safe to nibble, even for babies who are close to a year and have an established solids diet. As usual, I tweaked the recipe a bit, a habit of mine that my husband both loves and hates, but I loved the outcome. This edible play dough/cookie recipe is smooth and non-sticky. And best of all, the fun doesn’t end with the clean-up. You can bake all the fun and decorate them, too!
The original recipe is from the Winnie-The-Pooh Cookbook. The recipe below reflects my tweaks.Edible Gingerbread Play Dough and Cookies, Too! Yield: about 2 1/2 dozen 3 inch round cookies Oven temp: 350 F Ingredients: 1/2 cup sugar 3 cups flour 2 tsp baking soda 1 tsp salt 2 tsp powdered ginger 2 tsp cinnamon 2 tsp allspice (for a bit of spicy bite) 1/2 tsp ground cloves 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 lb (2 sticks) room temperature butter cut into cubes 1/4 cup honey 1/4 cup dark molasses (for a nice robust flavor) Sift the sugar, flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and nutmeg together into a mixing bowl. Work the cubes of butter into the dry ingredients with your fingertips or with a pastry cutter. The latter is my preference. When the butter is thoroughly worked in, slowly add the honey and molasses and stir until blended. The dough should pull away from the bowl. If there is an excess of flour, turn out the dough on a floured counter top and gently kneed until fully blended. Then, it’s playtime!
And Corinne, too. (Do you like the socks on the floor in the background?) I love inviting my children to play with play dough. It is excellent sensory play and even better for developing fine motor skills.
William and Corinne both cut out several “cookies” from their play dough, and ironically, my holiday set of cookie cutters didn’t include an actual gingerbread man, so they made lots of snowflakes, stars, ornaments, angels, rocking horses, and so on…
Do you like the mixing bowl sitting on the floor in the background of this photo? William had snatched it to scrape any remaining dough off the sides, and of course, left it on the floor…with his socks.
Once the kiddies are done playing, follow the remaining instructions to turn them into the most delicious gingerbread cookies.Refrigerate for an hour, or longer if possible Roll the dough out about 1/8 inch thick on a floured board or between sheets of waxed paper. Cut it into the shapes of gingerbread men or other holiday shapes. Bake for 12-15 minutes on a cookie sheet in a preheated oven. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a minute, then finish cooling on cake racks. Once completely cooled, use your favorite royal icing recipe to decorate.