When I decide I want to make a new recipe, Pinterest or a number of internet sites are usually my first resource. However, when I am wanting to get my son involved in the cooking, I find a cookbook is best. He can flip through the pages and pictures and get excited for what we are making, which in turn makes him eager about what he will be eating. Plus, there are many great children’s cookbooks out there that help you, the adult, learn how to teach children to cook, new, delicious, and healthy recipes. With KID CONTENT NOW, I plan to review and share lots of these cookbooks with you.
A WORLD OF COOKIES WITH SANTA, by M. E. Furman and illustrated by Susan Gal, is a picture book/ recipe book that takes the reader on a trip around the world at Christmas time. The book shows and teaches individual countries’ and cultures’ Christmas traditions, and the treats they bake and leave for Santa. Then it concludes with the recipes for many of the cookies shared in the book. This is the most wonderful time of the year to bake cookies with your kids, and I couldn’t resist diving into reading and baking through this book with my son.
Cookies may not always be the healthiest, but they certainly are the fun-est. And after reading, A WORLD OF COOKIES FOR SANTA, and taking in festive illustrations about cookie traditions from Malawi to Alaska, we decided the Mantecaditos from Puerto Rico looked the most delicious and fun to bake. The book explains, children in Puerto Rico leave them for the Wise Men and their camels, who have come to leave them gifts. The cookie recipe has almond extract in it, which is a favorite of mine, and instructs to put a maraschino cherry in the center of it, but since we just had strawberry jam on hand, we used that instead.
An important part of baking in our house, is picking out the right apron. My son went with a traditional Christmas red apron, and once tied-on with hands washed, and buckled into our high chair at the kitchen counter, we were ready to go. We don’t have one of those kid-safe step stools for the kitchen, but at least for now, our high chair works. Though one is on the holiday wish list.
One challenge of baking with a toddler, is trying to keep the ingredients in the bowl and not in a tiny chef’s mouth, but the Mantecaditos have no raw egg in them, so I was okay with my son sneaking an extra taste or two. Though, it did mean quite a few less than the 40 cookies the recipe says it makes. Plus, we had a few incidences of ingredients on the floor. Oh well, that’s part of the fun.
After mixing the ingredients, rolling the cookies into balls and dolloping some jam in the center of them, we baked. And while they baked, we enjoyed a little tuna salad and strawberries for lunch, and some Cocomelon on Netflix. Then once out of the oven, and cooled over nap-time, everyone enjoyed a Mantecadito cookie.
They are not overly sweet and are really well accompanied by the jam. My son doesn’t feel like he’s made cookies unless he has decorated them with sprinkles and colored sugars, so we did a few like that sans jam too. I must say on those, we definitely missed the fruit. My husband even called these his third favorite cookie we’ve ever made, only beat out by pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and peppermint snowball cookies. We all agreed with a glass a milk Santa will beyond thrilled with these tasty treats.
Here’s the Puerto Rican Mantecadito cookie recipe with the KCN strawberry jam spin (though you could use your favorite jam flavor or just sprinkles too):
Mantecadito Cookies (with strawberry jam)
Makes 40 cookies (give or take a few depending on how vigorously your tiny sous-chef stirs, or how hungry they may be).
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- 3/4 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 cup Nutiva organic red palm & coconut shortening (any shortening should work)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon Salomon extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup strawberry or flavor of your choice jam or preserves
- Place oven rack in middle position of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 F (175 degrees C).
- Combine flour and nutmeg; set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, shortening, and extracts with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until smooth.
- Gradually add sugar to butter mixture and mix together until light and fluffy.
- Blend in flour mixture a little at a time. Dough should be slightly moist. If dough looks dry, sprinkle with water and work into dough. If dough is sticky, sprinkle with additional flour.
- Spoon dough by teaspoons and form into balls. Place on a untreated baking sheet. Gently press each ball with the backend of a spoon to make a well for a 1/2 teaspoon of jam.
- Bake 20 minutes or until golden.
- Remove to a wire rack to cool.
A WORLD OF COOKIES FOR SANTA is a deliciously fun way to learn, mix, bake, taste, smile, engage, and make life-long memories with your little ones this holiday season. My only critique is the book includes just nine recipes of the 30 desserts the book references. You can of course just look up those recipes on your own, but including them would make it a more complete interactive picture book for all to enjoy.
I think we’ll try the Puto Seko cookies from the Philippines next, so stay tuned for pictures of those on social media @kidcontentnow this week. And please comment with some of your holiday baking traditions.