The recipes featured here are quite simple, which makes them ideal for helpers of all skill levels and temperaments. Depending on age, a kid might measure, mix, and shape the dough, or simply decorate the cookies that you've prepared, adding a festive pinpricked message of "noel" or "joy" to shortbread dough just before it's popped into the oven, or giving plump meringue mice their ears and tails. Even the smallest bakers can offer a hand -- a cookie-size hand, that is -- as a pattern to trace onto rolled-out dough.
Wrapped and ribboned in reds, greens, and other cheery colors, these homemade goodies are quickly transformed into one of the season's most special presents. But who has the fortitude to give them all away? Warm from the oven, these baked goods are so tempting you'll want to set some aside for yourself and for all your little holiday elves as well.
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With their distinctive flavor, shortbread appeals to kids of all ages. But this one is particularly suited to the little ones. It requires just five ingredents -- butter, flour, salt, sugar, and vanilla -- and kids can shape them into bricks and decorate them by pricking holes into the top -- they can even create their initial in tiny holes. You can also kick this recipe up by making cinnamon bricks: Just add one tablespoon ground cinnamon to the flour mixture.
Here's something kids will love: Baking their favorite hard candies will create an edible material that mimics the look of stained glass! First, you need to make your own cookie shapes. To do this, draw your ornament shape onto a manila folder, then cut it out. Place the cutout on rolled-out cookie dough, and cut around it with the tip of a paring knife. Use the knife tip to cut out the centers of the cookies, where you'll place your "stained glass." Click through for the full how-to.
Real mice? Not so fun to find in your kitchen. But mice made out of sweet meringue? Now that's a welcome site. Make these merigue mice by using small black nonpareil candies for eyes -- you can find them in most candy stores. You can carefully place alomd "ears" using tweezers. Alternatively, you can use a small round tip to pipe dots of melted chocolate.
Tracing kids' hands is a popular way to create craft projects -- but what if those projects were edible. Children can use their hand to outline the cookies, drawing around it on the dough with a skewer and using a knife tip to cut along the line. If your child is too young to take part, make a pattern from a manila folder. Click through for more directions!