The Snowman has been the soundtrack to Culturebaby's Christmas since she was two, and it was the first film to profoundly affect her. This year I'm very much looking forward to introducing my second little lady to this important story of Christmas magic, dignity in loss, and the importance of friendship. Last year we enjoyed being part of the Snowman and The Snowdog Blog Tour, and this year - though readers may chortle at the thought of me being in any way involved in a Bake-off - I'm delighted to join in, lower that bar to ensure anyone can draw some inspiration from biscuit-making with toddlers, and take the opportunity to kick off advent with a few days of Snowman themed fun.
We received a set of Snowman and Snowdog cookie cutters and followed the simple recipe provided on the packet. Following our recent move to South West London and a resolution to shop locally, the children have got really into taking their mini shopping baskets up to the nearby stores and gathering their own ingredients - inspired by two of their highly favoured books Cook It! by Georgie Birkett and Let's Go Shopping Peppa from Ladybird. Frankly this sort of excursion can take an age, but they love it.
To make some (really very yummy) Christmassy smelling and tasting biscuits we followed an extremely simple recipe, helpfully provided with the cookie cutters. A golden syrup, ginger and cinnamon combination worked really well for the season.
Sift together 350g plain flour, 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Add 2tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp ground cinnamon
Add 125g butter and blend until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in 175g soft brown sugar.
Lightly beat an egg and 4tsp golden syrup together, add to mixture and blend until the mixture clumps together. Knead until smooth, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes or so whilst you preheat the oven to 180 degrees C/Gas Mark 4 and line baking trays with greaseproof paper.
Roll the dough out to around 0.5cm on a lightly floured surface. Create shapes using the cutters.
Place on baking tray and bake for 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool for 10 minutes.
We then varied the recipe to suit tiny hands using roll-out icing to cover each biscuit (also using the cutters) and tubes of food colouring gel for decoration.
Next time I think we will try icing pens rather than colouring as the latter was rather messy and didn't set particularly well, but to be honest, the method was enormous fun for the children, they used them creatively and concentrated really hard on their various (often abstract) Snowman and Snowdog costumes. We won't be winning prizes for beauty but there was certainly a lot of toddler love poured into these messy looking, yummy creations!
To accompany our cookie eating, we've been re-watching the classic film and indulging in a spot of creative play. We were delighted to receive an extremely cute set of snowman (battery powered) lights. Following some negotiation, Culturetot got first dibs on these for her room last night, where we decked her fireplace for storytime. Today they graduated downstairs to feature in an imaginative recreation of the two films.
We set up a sheet of faux snow material and, using a Happyland house and family and miniature soft toy Snowman and Snowdog brought the Briggs classic to life. Together, the little boy and his Snowman flew to join the dance of the Snowmen (perfectly acted by our light string) and to meet Father Christmas, who gave him a gift of a blue scarf featuring his friend. Saying goodbye was sad as, with the sunlight, the thaw had set in. But happily with the advent of the wonderful sequel to Briggs' original, we become privy to the all important secret that the Snowman can indeed return.
For some further Snowman play ideas, see some of our previous posts:
1. Snowman Hunting, Playdoh modelling, imaginative play landscapes, and exploring ice (2 year old style) see here;
2. Creating a Snowman themed sensory and imaginative play basket see here;
3. Running a Snowman on the Shelf advent see here;
4. Experiencing the magic of Snowman Christmas theatre and live concerts - for recommendations see here.
For tomorrow's next stop on the bake-off blog tour check in to www.sidestreetstyle.com
Happily the Snowman and the Snowdog will be shown again on Channel 4 again this Christmas.
Disclaimer: We received the cookie cutters, lights and puzzle bauble to review as part of this year's blog tour. We thought they were a great stimulant to creativity and family fun time.
Snowman 3D Puzzle, £4.99
Available now from John Lewis and Toys R Us - high quality 54 piece 3D puzzle
The Snowman Indoor Light String with 10 Ice White LED’s - RRP £15.99 available to buy from www.christmastreesandlights.co.uk
The Snowman™ and The Snowdog Cookie Cutter Set, £4.75
Available now from John Lewis and www.partydelights.com