Our families obsession with gingerbread cookies started many years ago as the result of a book and class project.
In those early years, Run, Run As Fast As You Can, You Can’t Catch Me I’m the Gingerbread Man tickled my sons into fits of laughter. The youngest designed a kind of hide and go seek game around the theme. We played “You Can’t Catch Me I’m the Gingerbread Man” all over the big house.
Volunteering for my son’s kindergarten class I stood agape in the cafeteria as I watched all the five-year-olds enter. Every lunchroom table contained a place setting of for each child that included a graham cracker gingerbread house, a full plate of candy and a can of frosting.
Gingerbread House Creation
As all those little bodies moved into the room their eyes bugged out of their heads. Only one whispered question resounded through the room.
“Can we eat the candy?”
“Absolutely!” said the host teacher. One brave child asked the next logical question.
“All we want?”
“Yes,” she replied smiling.
Delighted the children sat quickly at their place painting frosting on the rock-solid gingerbread house with plastic knives. Giggling with the delight, all the kids began licking, sticking, and crafting their gingerbread house while popping one piece of candy after another into their mouths.
Creative Freedom with Candy and Cookies, I’m In!
When my son brought home his sugary creation to show his brother a new tradition started in the Gioia home. In his precious 3-year-old short sentences that second child bugged me until I made gingerbread cookies.
Gingerbread cookies, hummm, an acquired taste I thought to myself. Certainly not my favorite cookie or a cookie in my recipe box.
I borrowed a fancy gingerbread cookie recipe from a friend. My youngest perused glossy magazine like pictures of gingerbread houses in the cookbook while I prepared the dough.
A basic recipe with lots of spices that requires refrigeration, the gingerbread cookie resembles a shortbread cookie. Most American recipes do not require eggs or much leavening resulting in a hard crunchy cookie.
The only real expense of this spicy shortbread cookie comes from the molasses. To purchase the right molasses for your families tastes read 5 Tricks to Perfect Gingerbread.
Cutting and Shaping the Gingerbread Cookies
My boys loved the cookie cutting part. Gingerbread cookies change little after baking. The gingerbread boys stay boy shaped, as do the stars, angels, cars, sharks, trucks or whatever shape you cut out. Make The Best Gingerbread Cookies with this Recipe
Pulled from the oven gingerbread cookies cool quickly. Which is good! Two pairs of little hands anxiously wanted to get to the real part of the gingerbread adventure.
Just like the kindergarten teacher, I produced an array of candy and told to the boys to lick stick and eat as much as they wanted while they decorated the cookies.
Total bliss all the way around!
Gingerbread Baking Kicks off the Christmas Season
Gingerbread baking at the Gioia House starts the week of Thanksgiving. Warm spicy smells fill the house as we spend an afternoon or three around the kitchen table designing, decorating and of course, eating gingerbread.
To answer the question: Why Are Children So Obsessed with Gingerbread Houses?
In America, Gingerbread Houses, just like Christmas lights and snow signal the coming of a joyful season. The preparation for the birth of Jesus. The closing out of a year and hope for the next.
Gingerbread in my house embodies the warm familiar love of the family around the kitchen table. Laughing, eating, licking and sticking.
When cookie eating is all through you can add the book to your bedtime routine.
What Christmas traditions did your family start by accident? What activities bring you holiday joy?