Gingerbread House for your Coffee Mug

I finally made these!!  I have been meaning to make these for years and I’m so glad I finally did.  Spotted on Not Martha years ago.  Megan’s blog is awesome!

house

ginger

yum

houses

tiny house

A few tips I have for these are:

  • Definitely don’t skimp on the refrigeration times
  • Use the proper tool to cut out the shapes and make sure they are straight.  Helps when assembling them.  I did not use a little slicer, but a small knife and my cookies were not as smooth as they could have been.
  • Roll the dough out thin.  I didn’t really pay attention to the thickness, but the thinner the better.
  • I cut the gingerbread recipe in half and found that was plenty
  • I also used a pre mix bag of royal icing to make things easier.  Just add water.
  • Double count your cookie cut outs making sure you have the right number of roofs and walls to match up
  • Keep adding icing as your clue if you find the cookies aren’t sticking.  Keep a damp cloth over royal icing so it doesn’t dry out.

These definitely were not perfect but a lof of fun to make and I expect my next batch to turn out a bit cleaner looking!   I am giving these away as little Christmas gifts.

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Home-Made Gift #3 – Cookies in a Box

cookies!

Last year I got this awesome Martha Stewart cookie package kit on sale at Michaels.  There are 8 cookie boxes included.   This Christmas I did not have as much time for holiday baking and home-made gifts as I would have liked, I am in Hawaii right now until the 24th.  So I spent a Saturday baking away and putting together a few of these cookie boxes with a little gingerbread man tree ornament that I also made.

Double Ginger Crackles – From Fine Cooking Cookies Magazine

  • 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 ¾ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, plus another 1/3 cup for later
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 tbs finely chopped crystallized ginger (I have some nice ginger from Epicure that was delicious)

ginger cookies

  1. Position your oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350°F.  Line 2 larger baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl whisk together the flour, ground ginger, baking soda and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, mix together the butter with 1 cup of sugar on medium-high speed until well blended.  Add the egg, molasses and crystallized ginger; beat well.
  3. Add the dry ingredients on low in 3 batches until well blended.
  4. In a shallow bowl pour in the 1/3 cup sugar.  Now roll the dough into balls and then roll them into the sugar so they are coated.  You want to be consistent with your sizes so use an ice cream scoop about 1 tablespoon in size to portion your dough balls.  Set dough balls 1.5 – 2 inches apart on your cookie sheets
  5. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes.  Let cookies cool completely on cooling rack.  Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.  I like to throw in a piece of bread to keep them semi soft!

cookies

cookies

Stained Glass Trees – From Martha Stewarts Cookies Cook Book

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface later
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • About 30 assorted colours of Jolly Rancher candies (Bulk Barn!) finely chopped
  • Christmas Tree Cookie Cutter

IMG_3406

IMG_3412

  1. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl.
  2. With an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, blend together the sugar and butter on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add the egg, mix until smooth.  Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture.  Mix until well combined.  Stir in the vanilla.  Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
  3.  Roll out dough onto floured work surface a little more than 1/8″ thick.  Use tree cookie cutter to cut out shapes and transfer cut outs to parchment lined cookie sheets, 1.5 inches apart.
  4. Using the tip of a paring knife, cut out triangles in the center of cookies for jolly rancher filling.  Fill with a single layer of jolly rancher candies.  Refrigerate again, about 15 minutes.  In the meantime preheat oven to 325°F and have racks in upper and lower thirds.
  5. Bake cookies 10 – 12 minutes.  Do not let the cookies brown too much!  Let the cookies cool completely.

tree cookies

tree cookiesThese were both delicious recipes and fit well in my cookie boxes.  Perfect for holiday baking.

boxes

 

Christmas Cookies

These cookies definitely took awhile to make, but the end result was worth it I think.  They are pretty darn cute and tasted delicious.

Snowball Tree Cookies

  • 1 cup of butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
  • green paste food colouring
  • icing (recipe to follow)
  • candy decorations (mine are from bulk barn)
  1. In a bowl with a mixer on medium speed, beat butter for 30 seconds.  Add the sugar, and beat until combined, scrapping down the sides occasionally.  Beat in milk and vanilla, until combined.  Beat in as much of the flour as you can, I eventually had to use my hands to mix it all together.  Remove about 1/3 of the dough and tint the remaining with the green food colouring paste.
  2. Preheat oven to 325 ° F.  For each cookie, use the green dough and roll out 10 balls about 1/2 inch.  On an ungreased cookie sheet, arrange the balls in a row of four, then 3 on top, then 2, then one.  Use the plain dough to make a slightly larger ball and place at the bottom for your stump.  Press then all down slightly so they stick together.  Keep cookies 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.  Repeat.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until edges are lightly brown.  Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack.
  4. Once cooled drizzle icing back and forth to look like strings and put candies on icing for lights.

Royal Icing

  • 4 Table spoons Meringue powder
  • 2 cups (about 1 pound) of icing sugar
  • 6 table spoons of warm water

Beat all ingredients until stiff peaks form

I used this icing for both recipes!

Sugar Cookies

  • 3 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • parchment paper
  • icing, i made 6 different colours with food paste colouring and small tips

  1. Stir together flour and baking powder in a bowl; set aside
  2. Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat together.
  4. Add the flour mixture, slowly.  Keeping mixing until everything is mixed together.  Take dough out of mixer and knead for a few minutes with your hands.
  5. Wrap the dough up, or place in a large plastic bag and put in the fridge for two hours.
  6. Before removing dough from fridge, preheat oven to 350°F.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough 1/3 inch thick.  Start with half of the dough.  Use cookie cutters and place on prepared cookie sheet with parchment paper, or silicone baking mat.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.
  8. Let cool on cookie rack, when completely cooled you can decorate!

First recipe found here and second here

Home-made Gift #2- Cookies in a Jar.

For this simple idea I made a batch of cookies, a small jar I had around the house and a large jar from Ikea.  I also cut up some fabric that I had and used some gold ribbon and an elastic band.  For a more personal touch, I had some paint that works on glass, if you want to make a little note.

Chewy Molasses-Spice Cookies

(makes 36)

  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup of molasses
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.  In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Set aside.  In a shallow bowl, place 1/2 cup sugar; set aside.
  2. In a mixer beat butter and remaining cup of sugar until combined.  Beat in egg, and then molasses until combined.  Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in dry ingredients, until dough forms.
  3. Roll dough into balls, whatever size you like, just be consistent.  Roll balls into reserved sugar, coat.  Place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  4. Bake 10-15 minutes, one sheet at a time.  Cool 1 minute on baking sheets, transfer to a cooling rack.
  5. Once cooled, stack cookies in a jar.  Depending on how soft you like them, put a piece of bread in with the cookies to keep them soft.  Small for harder, larger for softer.

Home-made gift #1 – Chocolate covered spoons

This recipe is pretty straight forward.  In fact, there is no recipe.  I found these spoons at the $ store, 3/$1.00.

Then I went over to bulk barn to get chocolate and appropriate spoon toppings.

I used:

  • Milk chocolate and white chocolate chips
  • Crushed peppermint candy canes
  • White decorating sugar
  • Holly candies, not good for hot chocolate or coffee but so cute and festive!

To start I washed my spoons.  Then I melted the chocolate using the double boiler method.  Once the chocolate was melted I dipped my spoons, generously.  I set them to cool off on a cutting board, elevated so the chocolate settled evenly.  After 20 minutes or so I added the sugar, candy cane and holly candies. You don’t want the chocolate to be soft, but you also don’t want it to be hard.  Just right…in the middle.  I waited till the chocolate was more firm to melt some white chocolate and added it on top of the milk chocolate.  After I put these spoons in the fridge, and then I was done!

Hot Apple Cider

I’ve made this recipe twice now, and it’s perfect.  Now that it’s getting cold out and Christmas is coming up,  I plan to make this a few more times.  Make sure to wash the fruit!

  • 32 fl oz Apple Juice
  • 2 apples (I used Gala)
  • 1 tablespoon whole cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper corns
  • 1 orange, long strips of the zest
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup whiskey or bourbon 
Stud the small apples with the whole cloves by pressing the narrow end of the clove into the flesh of the apples.  Carefully remove the zest of the orange in long strips, try not to have any of the white layer of the orange.  Add the apples, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, orange zest and juice of lemon to a heavy pot filled with the apple juice.  Bring to a boil and then immediately reduce to low heat and cover partially.  Let simmer for 20 minutes then add the whisky or bourbon and serve warm.  Use more apple juice and whisky or bourbon as you please.  The more, the better!
Thanks for the photo Mike!

Gingerbread fever !

This was my first time making gingerbread men and I think they turned out all right.  The recipe lied a little, telling me that if I left the dough in the fridge for an hour it would be all right.  Not the case, after an hour the dough was still very sticky and impossible to work with.  Leaving it over night made all the difference, and then the decorating took awhile.  It was fun though, and tasty !