Today my (almost) 2 and 3 year old and I made our first batch of holiday cookies. I say “first” but it might also be the last. Baking cookies with kiddos can take it out of you!
We made Raspberry Window Shortbreads from Sunset Magazine. It uses their Butter Shortbread recipe – what’s not to like about butter, sugar, and flour? The recipe was simple, but we did have to mix it for a LONG time (like ten minutes) to get the dough to transform from crumbs into slightly stickier crumbs! The recipe calls for chilling the dough for 30 minutes, so while we did that, we made a second batch of gingerbread dough. All of these recipes are new to us!
The raspberry window shortbreads are so pretty, and they taste great! We only made a very small pan of them (both boys were going wild at that point, plus the baby was crying. I had to power through the last five minutes). When I finish the batch (by MYSELF, later), I am going to make the rest of them the smaller cookie size shown here (about 2″) and make sure I roll the dough out thin enough. They’re rich!
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons coarse sugar (sometimes called sparkling sugar)*
1. Preheat oven to 325°. Put flour, butter, granulated sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until blended, then increase to medium and mix until dough is no longer crumbly and just comes together. Form into disk, and chill 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough 1/8 in. thick. Use a selection of 1½-in. decorative cutters to cut as many shapes as you can, making sure you have an equal number of each shape to form a top and a bottom, and rerolling scraps as needed.
Arrange cookies 1 in. apart on baking sheets. Use a variety of smaller cutters to remove center from half of cookies (the tops). Chill on sheets 15 minutes; then bake until light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool.
Spread each whole cookie with about 1/2 tsp. raspberry preserves. Sprinkle powdered sugar over cut-out cookie tops, or glaze them with a mixture of 1 cup powdered sugar and 21/2 tsp. milk. Set tops on jam-topped bottoms. Makes 26.
Baking with toddlers and preschoolers is always kind of stressful, even if you make an effort not to worry about things like flour on the floor and more dough going into mouths than onto the cookie sheet. I always plan for us to make a mess when we bake, but the real problem I’ve found is that the process is just too long when you have helpers, and their best behavior begins to wane about 45 minutes into the process (just as the sugar rush from licking the spoon begins to take effect).
Here are my suggestions for having fun while baking with toddlers:
- Make it an event. I put on fun music, make sure everyone has an apron, and make a big (fun) deal about washing hands/getting ready to bake.
- Know that you are going to make a mess. Knowing before you begin is key to allowing the mess to happen without frustration. If you tell yourself you won’t worry about a mess before a mess happens, things will be less stressful for you.
- Let the child help as much as possible. If you have more than one child, let them take turns measuring (or split the measurements: if you need 2 cups of flour, let each of them measure one, etc.). Let the child get ingredients or utensils out, if they are able.
- Plan for it to take at least twice as long as it would without kids!
- Consider splitting it into two activities for two different days: The mixing of the cookie dough the first day, and the rolling and making of the cookies the second day. If you do this, you might want to sneak a small pan into the oven while your kids finish playing with the dough mixing, so they can get a reward for their hard work (like eating copious amounts of raw dough isn’t enough!). If you are going to decorate the cookies, you might want to add a third day in there. Yay, a whole week’s worth of activities!