Chocolate Roulade

When it has come to this family’s foray into cake baking it has largely been my task.

Except for roulades. Nathan got a wild hair years ago and churned out a couple of these with varying degrees of success. Well success as far presentation was concerned. Taste wise they were absolute winners each and every time.

chocolate roulade

He even went so far as to actually ensure we had a great jelly roll pan just for making roulades. Then they ceased. Loss of interest? Moved on to other baking ventures? I can’t remember why but we haven’t had one in the house for years.

In planning a birthday cake for my lovely friend Bev, Nathan suggested making a roulade again. I wasn’t convinced. I hummed and hawed about it and finally decided to give it a shot. It’s just the idea of rolling a cake was stressing me out.

chocolate roulade

I knew there was a recipe in my Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook and what finally sold me on the idea that I COULD roll a cake was her technique. You roll the cake in a towel while still hot. You read that right- the cake comes out of the oven straight onto a cocoa powder dusted towel and rolled. It is then cooled completely wrapped up.

I am not going to lie and say that then filling the roulade wasn’t stressful but it was easier than I had anticipated. I would recommend liberally dusting the towel with the cocoa powder. It stuck in a couple of places because I was stingy.  Eh… it wasn’t that bad but perfectionist me was annoyed.

chocolate roulade

Also I didn’t have the time or patience that day to make the fancy chocolate mouse filling and opted instead to fill it is a kahlua spiked whipped cream. It was a stroke of brilliance really because the desert ended up being light and perfect. A cake you could easily eat half of and not realize it.

And eat it we did. The whole thing was put away at Tuesday night pizza and beer with no protests from anyone.

chocolate roulade

One year ago today: Granola Clusters and Easy Veggie Curry

Chocolate Roulade (serves 10-12)
From Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1/4 all purpose flour
1 tablespoon espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
6 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 325F. Coat a 12 x 17 inch jelly-roll pan with cooking spray; line with parchment. Coat lining with cooking spray. Dust with cocoa; tap out excess. Sift cocoa, flour into a bowl. Set aside. Dissolve coffee into hot water. Set aside. Separate eggs. Beat egg yolks until pale and creamy, about 5 minutes. Set aside. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites frothy. Then add the sugar and beat on medium high heat until soft peaks form. Gently fold in egg whites to egg yolk mixture. Carefully then add the coffee and flour mixtures. Pour batter into pan and smooth out carefully. Bake until cake pulls away from sides of pan and is springy to the touch. About 10-12 minutes. Run a thin knife around cake. Invert onto a clean kitchen towel dusted generously with cocoa; peel off parchment. Starting from one short end, roll cake, using towel to guide into a log (you are rolling the towel INTO the cake). Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Meanwhile beat the whipping cream, kahlua, and sugar in a bowl till set.

When cooled, unroll cake. Spread with whipped cream, leaving a small border. Roll up again, removing the kitchen towel as you go. Carefully transfer the cake to a serving plate. Dust generously with cocoa powder. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

chocolate roulade

Cheese and Rosemary Crackers

Seriously people can we knock it off with the snow already?

This is what it looked like out my window this morning. Not.ok.with.me.

Cheese and Rosemary Crackers

Ok ok ok I know it isn’t your fault but for the love of all that is holy who DID we piss off this year?

We already had an incredible amount of snow (for the Willamette Valley) in December. Snow, which because of sub zero temperatures, stuck around for a week.

Cheese and Rosemary Crackers

Then it came again. Although this time it was out for blood. First four inches, then a nice layer of freezing rain turned that into an ice skating rink. As if that wasn’t enough we then got another 6-8 inches (what the ?!?) topped with off with more freezing rain. Everything was coated with an inch of ice. Lovely.

Mostly we have taken it in stride though. Cold weather always brings out the carb craver in me. We don’t usually have bread around the house unless I make it. We were short on white flour and even shorter on bread flour so attempting a whole loaf of bread wasn’t on my list of things I wanted to do.

Cheese and Rosemary Crackers

Crackers though. Crackers rock. Or flatbread which is what this really is.

These were are breeze. A quick mix and knead and into the fridge. I totally followed the recipe to a T and used my pasta roller. If you have one this is absolutely the way to go. I can’t speak to how easy or hard it is to roll these out by hand since I didn’t even try.

photo-(1)

Also this is a great snowy day activity for your littles people. Painting activities at our house involve egg wash. I’m the best kind of mom. Really.

Cheese and Rosemary Crackers

One year ago today: Tuna Noodle Casserole and Peppermint Pattie Cookies

Cheese and Rosemary Crackers (make about 16)
From Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

1 cup warm water
3/4 teaspoon instant yeast
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for bowl and plastic wrap
15 ounces (about 3 cups) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup freshly grated aged cheese (I used manchego and parmesan), plus more for sprinkling
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves (or 3 tablespoons caraway seeds)

In the bowl of an electric mixer, stir the water and yeast together. Attach your dough hook. Add olive oil, flour, salt, and honey and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Switch to medium speed and mix until dough is soft but not tacky, about 2 minutes. Add cheese and mix for 1 minute more.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface; knead four or five times, forming into a ball. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap; let rest for 10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight. Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with parchment.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 16 equal pieces. Flatten the dough with your hands into a disk. Using a pasta machine, run it through on either #3 or 4. If you don’t have a pasta roller, just roll out thinly with a rolling pin. Transfer pieces of dough to prepared baking sheets. In a small bowl, whisk the egg with 1 tablespoon water; brush over dough. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and additional cheese and top with sprigs of rosemary (or with caraway seeds).

Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until crisp and golden, about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough. Bread can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Cheese and Rosemary Crackers

Cream Cheese Brownies

Sometime things don’t turn out exactly how you had hoped.

Often I tackle complicated baking or cooking projects and they turn out perfectly on the first go around. And by often I mean 99% of the time. I attribute it to my ability to pick a good recipe.

Cream Cheese Brownies

Today I was really hoping to share croissants with you. I worked on them for what felt like all weekend. They were ok but not perfect. They look absolutely stunning and I am proud to have made them BUT there are is much trouble shooting to be done. I plan on tackling them again this coming weekend and, fingers crossed, I can side step all the mistakes of this first batch and have a stellar recipe to share with you.

So instead here are some brownie. Nathan had been craving brownies all week and I was more than happy to oblige. Besides, yesterday was the Super Bowl and what better day to overindulge in sweet treats?

Cream Cheese Brownies

These are also on the list of things that didn’t turn out exactly as hoped but they are chocolate and cream cheese so much more forgivable than butter, flour, and yeast. I think they were left in the oven just a touch too long so as long as you stick to the 35 minutes recommended in the recipe I believe they will be perfectly gooey.

Cream Cheese Brownies

And by not perfect I mean they were deliciously edible chocolately cheesecakey squares of heaven.

I highly recommend these. And hopefully soon I can recommend an equally delicious croissant recipe.

Cream Cheese Brownies

One year ago today: Ginger Molasses Cookies

Cream Cheese Brownies (makes 16)
From Smitten Kitchen

1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chocolate chips for sprinkling if desired

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Heat butter and chocolate in the microwave 30 seconds at a time until just melted. Whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.

Make cheesecake batter by whisking together the sugar, cream cheese, egg yolk, and vanilla in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula. It might take several passes to get it marbled. Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl if using.

Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Slice once completely cool.

Cream Cheese Brownies

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

The healthy eating continues around here and it is so enjoyable. I have not really had sweets for nearly two weeks. Well until these cookies came along.

There are some grocery store cookies I still have an affinity for. Iced oatmeal cookies being one kind. Like alot. Oreos too.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

I refuse to buy these cookies in the store. Actually the list of foods I refuse to buy is quite long but processed cookies from the store is really really high up there. So as with the nutter butters I figured I could just make them myself.

At first I was sure this was going to wind up in the “sure that’s a great cookie but it is not quite right” pile. They taste like eggnog. Nathan disagree but seriously. Eggnog. Even after they were baked all I could taste was eggnog. I am not saying that was a bag thing I just wasn’t sure they were going to turn into the cookies I was hoping they would

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Enter the glaze. The glaze took these eggnogy oatmeal cookies and turned them in to the bigger badder better version of the store bought classic. So while yes it is work to get the glaze on the cookies I urge you to do it. So perfectly delicious.

I served these as dessert at a dinner party over the weekend I think only one glazed cookies survived the ordeal. Even I, who was avoiding sugar and gluten, ate three. Three. I don’t regret it.

Mercifully they are all gone now. So I am back to a stunning vegetarian dinner and maybe some fruit for dessert.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

One year ago today: Vanilla Ice Cream and Farro and Cauliflower Risotto

Iced Oatmeal Cookies (makes 3 dozen)
From Mother Thyme

Cookies:
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:
2 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Cookies:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheets with cooking spray and set aside. Place rolled oats in a food processor and pulse for about 10 seconds until coarse. Mix oats with flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Using an electric mixer cream butter and sugars. Add in eggs one at a time then vanilla extract. Gradually add in flour mixture until combined. Roll dough into 2 tablespoon size balls and place on baking sheet spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the bottoms begin to brown. Cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Glaze
Mix confectioners sugar and milk together in a medium bowl. Dip the tops of cookies into glaze and let excess drip off. Place back on wire rack until glaze sets.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Orange Cranberry Pinwheels

Can we talk about my house for a second?

Orange cranberry pinwheel cookies

I love it. It is bigger than we need and easily accommodates guests (short or long term). We have talked about my dinning room table before and how is easily seats 12 or more. I have cozy couch seating too. Over the past nearly two years that we have lived in this house we have thrown numerous parties of 30 + people and it has worked beautifully.

My house is generally pretty tidy. I have a pretty low tolerance for clutter and mess. My wonderful husband puts up with this neurosis and clean right along with me. He is the master of paper purging. I am the queen of clean counters.

Orange cranberry pinwheel cookies

When we purchased this house it was with the intent that it be a place for everyone. My house is your house. Everything we have we gladly share. More than once we have thrown together impromptu dinner with whatever we had in the house. I absolutely love that we have people over for dinner 2 or more nights a week. Even if those people are only my sister and brother in law. Having people around my table makes me feel whole.

One lovely side effect of this blog is that frequently there are sweet treats randomly on the counter. Those treats are often scarfed down quickly. The beauty of these cranberry orange cookies is they are stored in the freezer. I recently had a friend come over for visit and it only took me two minutes to pop these in the oven so there were hot cookies waiting when she arrived.

Orange cranberry pinwheel cookies

I MUST remember to this more often. I have done it before with other cookie recipes but have fallen out of the habit.

Orange cranberry pinwheel cookies

Am I the only person that feels the need to feed everyone that walks through my door? Even it is just cookies I pulled from the freezer and threw in the oven? I certainly hope not.

(and now I want cookies…)

Orange cranberry pinwheel cookies

One year ago today: Almond Joy Cupcakes

Orange Cranberry Pinwheels
From Good Dinner Mom

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon sour cream
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup finely chopped fresh cranberries, packed full
2/3 cup walnuts, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon grated orange rind

Set oven rack on top position and

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sour cream, egg and vanilla, combining well between each addition. Gradually add flour mixture and beat until well combined. (Do not overbeat it, though) Cover the cookie dough and chill for one hour. Combine cranberries, walnuts and orange rind. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 10-inch square. (About 1/4 inch thick.) Sprinkle with cranberry mixture, leaving a 1/2-inch border on 2 opposite sides. Roll up dough, jellyroll fashion, beginning at a bordered side. Cover and freeze 6 hours or up to 1 month.

When ready to bake preheat to 375F degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.Cut roll into 1/4-inch thick slices. Place slices on cookie sheet. Bake on top oven rack for 14 to 15 minutes or until lightly golden browned at the edges. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Orange cranberry pinwheel cookies

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Do you ever have a moment when you SWEAR you share a brain with someone?

How about over cake? Yeah. I was pretty sure it wasn’t a common occurrence.

I make a lot of birthday cakes. I have my own favorite kinds of cake and I would just make the same cake over and over again if I didn’t ask the honoree what they like. Hence why I made a peanut butter pie of sorts when I don’t even like peanut butter and chocolate.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

My lovely friend Jenny was out of town giving ski lessons in Vail on her birthday. She just recently moved back to Eugene for her MBA (we met in undergrad- marching band to be precise). I sent her a happy birthday text along with a what kind of cake do you want request. I had just been gifted a new cake cookbook and was perusing recipes. The angel food cake recipe caught my eye as I had leftover egg white lurking in my freezer from copious cream pies I made over the holiday.

Chocolate angel food cake came the reply. Um. What? That was the exact recipe I had been reading when I got her message.

I couldn’t wait. A cake I sooooo wanted to make and a birthday girl who was so excited to get it. Win win win win.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

And the cake was a breeze. Mostly because I didn’t crack a.single.egg. That’s right. Not one. I simply pulled the egg whites out of the freezer and set them in the fridge the day before. Yeah. There were that many egg whites in my freezer. Moral of the story- freeze your egg whites. Mercifully this recipe gave he egg whites as a volume measurement so I didn’t even have to try and guess at how many I had.

However I did have to grate chocolate which was a bear. But I think it was worth it.

Because what a delicious cake it was. Not overly sweet Perfectly fluffy. Decadently speckled with bitter unsweetened chocolate.

I love me some angel food cake and can’t recall the last time I had a homemade one. Now I know it is totally worth the effort. Too bad it wasn’t June and we didn’t have sun warmed strawberries to put on it. Sigh. I might just have to make the cake again. Bummer.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

One year ago today: Nutter Butters

Chocolate Angel Food Cake (serves 8-12)
From Rose’s Heavenly Cakes

1 1/2 cups, divided superfine sugar
3/4 cup cake flour, lightly spooned and leveled off
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 large egg whites, at room temperature, or 2 cups
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 oz fine-quality unsweetened chocolate, chilled, finely grated, refrigerated

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, whisk together half the sugar, the flour, and salt until evenly combined. Sift the remaining sugar onto a piece of wax paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. With the mixer off, add the cream of tartar. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the sifted sugar and continue beating on medium-high speed until very stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly. Beat in the vanilla until combined.

Dust (lightly sprinkle) the flour mixture over the beaten whites, 1/4 cup at a time. With a large balloon whisk fold in the flour mixture quickly but gently. It is not necessary to incorporate every speck until the last addition. Fold in the grated chocolate until evenly incorporated. Using a long narrow spatula or silicone spatula, spread a thin layer of batter onto the sides of the 10 inch two-piece metal tube pan to ensure smooth sides. Empty the rest of the batter into the pan. It will be 1/2-inch from the top of the rim. Run a small metal spatula or knife through the batter to prevent air pockets and smooth the surface evenly.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown, a wire cake tester inserted between the tube and the side comes out clean, and the cake springs back when lightly pressed in the center. (A wooden toothpick will still have a few moist crumbs clinging to it.) During baking, the center will rise about 2 inches above the pan, but it will sink to almost level with the pan when done. The surface will have deep cracks, like a souffle. Invert the pan immediately, placing the tube opening over the neck of a wine bottle to suspend it well above the countertop. Cool completely in the pan, about 1 1/2 hours.

Loosen the sides of the pan with a long narrow spatula and remove the center core of the pan. Dislodge the cake from the bottom and center core with a metal spatula or thin sharp knife. Invert the cake onto a flat plate. Allow the cake to sit for 1 hour, or until the top is no longer tacky. Then cover it with a cake dome or wrap it airtight. It keeps for 3 days at room temperature and for 10 days refrigerated.

Chocolate Angel Food Cake

Candy Cane Cookies

Cookie baking with littles during the holidays is a must do.

Candy Cane Cookies

I am not the most patient person with my little in the kitchen. He is so very independent and eager. I really need to learn to just chill out and let him make a mess.

For Christmas this year I thought candy cane cookies would be a easy cookie for him to help with. The dough came together quickly shortly after breakfast. I put it in the fridge with promises of making cookies as soon as Little got up from nap. He was so very excited.

Candy Cane Cookies

Sure enough when he got up one of the very first things he asked for was cookie making. Apron on, kitchen stand positioned, and dad at his side they mostly ate dough and attempted to roll out some cookies.

He had an absolute blast. They played for a good 15-20 minutes before Little got bored. Nathan then took him outside while I actually cranked out the rest of the cookies. Still, such wonderful memories made that day.

Candy Cane Cookies

I actually remember trying to make candy cane cookies when I was younger (I think I made them on my own) and they didn’t turn out. The dough was too hard, it took to long to roll them all out, they just crumbled in my hands, etc etc etc. So many issues. This time however they came out perfect. And delicious.

Candy Cane Cookies

Do you bake cookies around the holidays? What are your favorites?

Candy Cane Cookies

One year ago today: Gingerbread house

Candy Cane Cookies (makes about 2 1/2 dozen)
From Betty Crocker 

1 cup sugar
1 cup butter softened
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 egg
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red food color

Stir together 1 cup sugar, the butter, milk, vanilla, peppermint extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt. Divide dough in half. Stir food color into 1 half. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. For each candy cane, shape 1 rounded teaspoon dough from each half into 4-inch rope by rolling back and forth on floured surface. Place 1 red and white rope side by side; press together lightly and twist. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; curve top of cookie down to form handle of cane. Bake 9 to 12 minutes or until set and very light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Candy Cane Cookies

Cornbread (gluten-free)

I do not appreciate being challenged in the kitchen.

Well, I guessI should really say I don’t like being challenged when I am not wanting it. Does that even make sense?

Make homemade marshmallows? Sure why not. That can’t be hard.

Fondant? Total breeze.

An ice cream cake that took a whole week to make? Bring it!

Corn bread (gluten free)

Gluten free baking when it has to be intentional and not incidental? No! Please don’t make me!

It is an established fact that I love taking dinner to those I love. A sweet dear mama friend of mine just recently welcomed her second daughter into the world (remember the almond lemon ricotta cake I made for her shower?). Delivering dinner to a new mama is a privilege and I wanted it to be special. However my repertoire of gluten free cooking is not very deep.

I made a delicious chili to take to her. It was such a big batch it fed her little family AND mine. Even with planning on packing sour cream, grated cheese, fresh fruit, and those amazing marshmallows I felt that the meal was lacking something.

Corn bread (gluten free)

My train of thought went as follows- corn bread goes with chili well, except my recipe has flour. Gluten free corn bread has got to be a thing right? To Google! No not that recipe, or that one, or that one (all involving odd gluten free flours I didn’t have). What?! One with just cornmeal?! Win.

And that’s how I stumbled on this recipe. And it’s perfect. Perfect crumb, delicious taste, and not a hint of gluten or ingredients you would have to go on a hunt for.

Absolutely perfect with a warm bowl of homemade chili.

(It should be noted that not all cornmeal is gluten free so be sure to purchase a gluten free labeled brand if you are sincerely avoiding gluten)

Corn bread (gluten free)

One year ago today: Perfect chocolate frosting

Corn Bread (Gluten free) (serves 6-8)
From Gluten Free on a Shoestring

2 cups coarsely ground yellow cornmeal (gluten free)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 egg at room temperature, beaten
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
4 tablespoons honey

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Grease a 12-inch cast iron skillet or an 8-inch square or round pan. If using a skillet place it in the oven as you preheat.

In a large bowl, place the cornmeal, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and whisk to combine well. In separate bowl, mix the egg, butter, buttermilk and honey, and whisk to combine well.

Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. The mixture will be relatively thin. Remove the skillet from the oven. Add an additional tablespoon of butter and wait for it to melt. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 20-30 minutes (closer to 20 minutes if using a cast iron skillet), or until lightly golden brown on top, golden brown around the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Slice and serve immediately.

Corn bread (gluten free)

Gingerbread Lighthouse

Remember last year when we built the epic gingerbread house?

Gingerbread lighthouse

Well we did it again (and by we I mean my brother-in-law Ryan and me). Except this year it was Heceta Head Lighthouse.

Gingerbread lighthouse

We used all the same recipes we did last year (for the royal icing and gingerbread itself). Two new recipes we incorporated however were fondant and rice crispy treats. Ryan found a special recipe that was for structural rice crispy treats so we used that. They set up nice and hard so we could used them as a foundation. We used the treats for the rocks and for the inside of the base of the lighthouse.

Gingerbread lighthouse

We then covered the rocks with homemade fondant (easier than you think). It game them a nice hillside/rock look.

Gingerbread lighthouse

Other cool features- I made the lens for the lighthouse by melting and pouring sugar. We learned that adding some water to the sugar before you melt it helps it not burn (2 sugar to 1 water ratio). Also butter butter butter everything the sugar will touch. The parchment, the spatula, the mold, your hands, etc. It makes it so much easier. Oh and work quickly.

Gingerbread lighthouse

 The water was a big hurdle and we discussed so many different ideas before finally attempting one. Should we pour the sugar like we did last year on our tiny lake? That seemed daunting. What about fondant? Not the right texture. Ok then what if we use royal icing and then paint it? Great. We tried a tiny test patch of royal icing on parchment, let it dry, then painted it. It looked ok so we started to ice the whole board. And even that idea only got about 2% executed before we scrapped it because then Ryan suggested dying all the icing then we could just paint darker accents. Ok.

Gingerbread lighthouse
The second I added the coloring to the icing and started to stir I stopped. It looked beautiful. So I took the half mixed frosting and, being careful to not fully mix it, used it to make the water. Beyond pleased. It is one of my favorite features. Oh and the surfer is pretty cool too.

Gingerbread lighthouse

Of course there was the required gingerbread couple welcoming us to the lighthouse.

Gingerbread lighthouse

And required shenanigans… this time it was a gingerbread man buried in some sand (we used rice crispy treats and sugar for the sand). Also a tiny sand castle.

Gingerbread lighthouse

The lighthouse did indeed light up even. Absurdly proud of how that turned out.

Gingerbread lighthouse

Gingerbread trees are easy. Simply offset stack different sized cookies then dust with powdered sugar. Notice the little fish present for the seal? Yeah we are cutsey like that.

Gingerbread lighthouse

See how excited the seal is for his present? He was made out of moulded marzipan. And yes, in case you are wondering that is our interpretation of Ariel the mermaid. Fairly accurate if you ask me.

Gingerbread lighthouse

Squirrels. Looking for nuts.

Gingerbread lighthouse

(Sorry for the plethora of seal pictures. He was just my favorite…)

One year ago today: Tamales

Fondant (makes one approximately 5 inch diameter ball)
From Bake at 350

16 oz. bag mini marshmallows
3 TBSP water
2 lbs. powdered sugar
Coconut oil

Pour in the marshmallows and water in a bowl. Microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval, until melted. Reserve about 1/4 c. powdered sugar. Place the rest of the powdered sugar in the large bowl of a standing mixer. Grease the paddle attachment with coconut oil. Pour the melted marshmallows onto the powdered sugar. Beat until a dough forms. There will be lots of loose bits and sugar in the bottom of the bowl. Grease a clean work surface with coconut oil and dump out the fondant and all loose bits. Grease hands liberally with coconut oil and knead the mixture together, just like kneading bread, for about 5 minutes until smooth.

Grease hands again as needed. As the fondant becomes smoother, use the reserved powdered sugar to coat the surface to keep it from sticking. Once smooth, you can divide and color the fondant. While working with one piece, cover the remaining fondant with plastic wrap to keep it from drying out. When you have your colors finished, or just keep it all white, coat the fondant in a light layer of coconut oil. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a large baggie. Stores at room temperature for several months.

Gingerbread lighthouse

And last but certainly not least the tiny house.

Oh and we won. We received an honorable mention for most adorable and won people’s choice award. Second year in a row we have won people’s choice. We are a bit proud.

 

Cranberry Orange Crinkle Cookies

Do you gift holiday cookies?

Participate in a holiday cookie exchange?

Cranberry Orange Crinkle cookies

Ruin all your co-workers good eating habits by tempting them with lovely treats?

Or just generally want to fatten up everyone around you so they don’t notice your extra pounds?

Cranberry Orange Crinkle cookies

If so, then these totally fit the bill.

For some odd reason I have never made crinkle cookies. I think at their most basic level they are just sugar cookies rolled in powdered sugar before baking. Or maybe just pure awesomeness. One or the other for sure.

Cranberry Orange Crinkle cookies

Cranberry and citrus has been on here three times now. As rolls, as muffins, and as bars. I think the combination in cookies might quite possibly be my favorite.

These are destined for a Christmas party tomorrow. The very best kind of Christmas party. One where we have soup for dinner and everyone brings a delicious dessert to share. Soup means there is more room to shove all kinds of sweets and goodies in my tummy.

I can’t wait.

Cranberry Orange Crinkle cookies

One year ago today: Banana Bread

Cranberry Orange Crinkle Cookies (makes about 3 dozen)
From Lauren’s Latest 

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 whole eggs
Zest of 1 navel orange
2 Tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease light colored baking sheets with non stick cooking spray and set aside.

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Whip in vanilla, egg, orange zest and juice. Stir in all dry ingredients,  excluding the powdered sugar, until just combined. Stir in chopped cranberries. Pour powdered sugar onto a large plate. Roll about 2 teaspoons of dough into a ball, then roll in the powdered sugar. Place on baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

Bake for 9-11 minutes or until bottoms begin to barely brown and cookies look matte (not melty or shiny). Remove from oven and cool cookies about 3 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Cranberry Orange Crinkle cookies