Friday, May 1, 2009

Quick Cookies for Toddlers

pile of tiny banana cookies
If you’ve spent much time with a toddler, then you’ve probably seen some of the cookies marketed specifically to this age group. Teddy Grahams, Annie’s bunnies, Honey Maid honey bees, and Earth’s Best alphabet cookies are a few types, and they are fairly expensive. Not only that, but no matter how organic the brand, they’ve all got preservatives. If you have twenty minutes, you can save some money and make your own. If you're brave and don't mind a little mess, let your child help you. Kids love to help measure ingredients.

Mom's helper
Tiny Toddler Cookies
¼ cup butter or shortening
¼ cup mashed banana or applesauce
¾ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 egg
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ¼ cup flour

Variations: Add 1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, diced dried fruit, or nut pieces if no allergies are present. Peanut butter, any other nut butter, or sunbutter may also be used in place of the fruit. White or brown sugar is up to your preference. Using all brown sugar results in a moister cookie. For the flour, you may use all whole wheat, but the cookie will be tougher. I recommend at least ¼ cup of the flour be white.

Preheat oven to 350.
Cream together butter/shortening with fruit and sugar, then add vanilla and egg. Mix until well combined. Add baking soda and salt, blend well. Then add flour slowly until dough is thick and only slightly sticky.
Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet with a little space around each one, as they will spread slightly.
Bake 4-6 minutes or until slightly browned. Cool briefly and then remove to a cooling rack. Cookies will store for 3-4 days at room temperature, two months in the freezer. Alternatively, bake only one pan and freeze the remaining dough, either in one block or in cookie-sized pieces for later baking. Uncooked dough will remain fresh for two months in the freezer.

tiny banana cookies
The first time I tried this recipe, I made the entire batch for my 20 month old with a small appetite. He ate them enthusiastically for a few days. He tends to get burnt out on everything after a few days, so the rest of the batch went stale. Subsequently, I started making a single pan and then freezing the rest.
While I like the look and ease of drop cookies, this works equally well as cookie bars. Just press the dough into a 9x13 pan (it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t touch the sides) and bake as before. The dough will likely take longer to cook, so watch it carefully. Slice into tiny bites with a pizza cutter or knife shortly after removing from the oven. Allow to cool then store.

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