Cookies Archives - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with White Chocolate Feuilletine, and a Way to Help the Sandy Hook School Families

December 19, 2012 at 8:27 am | Posted in Candy, Cookies, Dessert, Holiday | 34 Comments
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I know…weird, huh?  Three posts in less than two weeks.  Someone needs to take my temperature.  I have a feeling it would probably register anywhere from 350F to 375F.  So the holiday baking bug bit and it keeps biting..leaving ‘welts’ of butter, flour, sugar and eggs all over me.  How cheesy can I get?  Oh, believe me, there’s more cheese where that came from.

Butter Pecan White Chocolate Crunch Thumbprint Cookies

Before I get to these cookies, I need and want to touch on the Sandy Hook shootings.  I’ve had such pain in my heart since learning of it, and I can’t watch anything about it without choking up incessantly.  Little children are precious, flawless gems, untainted by the harsh realities of what can be a cruel world at times.  They show us the goodness of human beings. Killing them is killing human goodness.

Continue Reading Melt-In-Your-Mouth Butter Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with White Chocolate Feuilletine, and a Way to Help the Sandy Hook School Families…

White Chocolate Cranberry Salted Pistachio Drop Cookies and a Giveaway!

December 7, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Fruit, Holiday | 120 Comments
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Hello, yeah it’s been a while, not much, how ’bout you?

I love that song and it has been a while – almost three weeks to be exact.  Yeah, I know..I don’t post very often anyway (and that will eventually change), but for some inexplicable reason,  this time it feels like I haven’t posted for months.

Chewy White Chocolate Cranberry Pistachio Drop Cookies

There’s really no major reason behind it other than LIFE stuff and that mysterious ‘lack of motivation’ plague that has been festering inside of me for months.  You know, the one I always complain about in almost

Sorry about that.

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Peanut Butter Again? Yes! Cookies on Steroids!

October 10, 2011 at 9:15 am | Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Gluten Free, SRC | 76 Comments
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Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches with Cinnamon Peanut Butter Cream Filling

I just realized something, this is my third post in less than two weeks.  It’s a very unfamiliar feeling since I usually only post about twice a month, give or take. There have been two new blog challenges that I simply couldn’t resist, the Love Bloghop and the Secret Recipe Club, which is part of the reason.  The latter is the focus today.  Ack, what a dull beginning to this post! Picture unicorns with bedazzled horns jumping over rainbows, to liven it up.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches with Cinnamon Peanut Butter Cream Filling
That said, I’m sick.  I caught a bug last week, and it’s worsened. I was hoping it would be one of those quick 2 to 3 day deals, but no such luck – come Friday I was feeling lousy x three. The slight upside was, fasting for Yom Kippur on Saturday was a cinch. The downside, I couldn’t eat a bit of a beautifully prepared Yom Kippur dinner – couldn’t even be near the table since the smell of food was enough to start the nauseous sweats.  Have you seen the dress fitting/food poisoning scene in Bridesmaids? Luscious, huh?

OK, enough about my sickness (and I won’t mention that looking at these photos as I put this post together, is making queasy again – Whoops, sorry!).  For this month’s Secret Recipe Club, I was assigned the blog, Sweetie Petitti .  I know Susie from back in the day when she participated in the Daring Bakers.  Last month, I was happy to see she was a member of the Secret Recipe Club.

When I was assigned her blog, I wasn’t surprised.  If you factor weird ju-ju into situations, you can turn them into an equations.  Haven’t seen Susie in ages + joined the SRC + See Susie = Her blog is mine this month.  This is not unlike the peanut butter magically appearing on my doorstep last week.  I won’t make an equation out of that.

Bear with me, I have a fever..things may not seem/sound as they should.

I love Susie’s blog.  She decorates a mean cookie – I don’t, so that was out of the question.  I had a hard time choosing between 4 recipes.  1) Her pumpkin bread, which I was going to make into a bundt with swirls of cream cheese and Nutella. 2) A Spicy Buccatini with Rapini, Pancetta and Clams, which I was going to call Spicy BOOcatini, in honor of Halloween, although the name was all the Halloween it was going to be.  How do you make a yummy pasta dish scary?  Intestines are overplayed..  3) A Mile-High chocolate cake, Then I started feeling run down, a preface of what was to come, soo..I decided to go with something a little more simple, and pump it up a bit –  4) Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip cookies. Would you believe, me, a self -confessed/obsessed peanut butter freak, has never had a flourless peanut butter cookie?

They’re great as is, but I couldn’t resist sandwiching them with the Bouchon Bakery’s peanut butter cream from their famous Nutter Butter cookie.  I added cinnamon to it for a little kick of warm spice, but that’s it.  I kept Susie’s cookie recipe as is, except to make bigger dough balls, therefore, less cookies.  Next time I’m going to make the balls smaller, like maybe a scant tablespoon, because it is a bit much ‘cookie’ for a cookie sandwich – it needs to be thinner. But hey – if you like a lot of cookie in ratio to the cream, why not?

These are heavy in weight, super rich, and pretty darn good.  They’re also kind of delicate with all that cream, so if it falls apart while you’re eating it, just put it on a plate and use a fork..or spoon..or shovel.

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Sandwich Cookies with Peanut Butter Cinnamon Cream Filling
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 8 large sandwich cookies
Cookies adapted from Sweetie Petitti Peanut Butter Cream Filling from the Bouchon Bakery (I added cinnamon)
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup (packed) brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1½ cups milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
Peanut Butter - Cinnamon Cream Filling*
  • 1 stick butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1⅔ cups confectioners' sugar ( I used 1⅓ cups)
  • Melted chocolate or caramel, (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix first 6 ingredients in a bowl. Stir in chocolate chips. Roll tablespoons (or a scant tablespoon for thinner cookies) of dough for each cookie into ball.
  2. Arrange on a large (I used a 12 by 17 half sheet pan), parchment lined baking sheet - 2 inches apart. You should have 16 dough balls (more if using scant tablespoon). Use the bottom of a glass to flatten each dough ball.
  3. Bake cookies about 10 - 12 minutes. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Transfer to racks; cool completely.
  4. Beat together cream filling ingredients until smooth, then scoop into a pastry bag with a plain tip or a zip-lock bag.
  5. Using the pastry bag with a plain tip, or the zip-lock bag with the end snipped off, pipe cream filling evenly on to 8 cookies. Drizzle with melted chocolate or caramel, if desired. Top with remaining 8 cookies.
*You might have some cream filling left over ( i overfilled each one, so not much left over), so double the cookie recipe or umm, eat it with a spoon, like I did.


Be sure to check out Susie’s blog when you get a chance.  She really is a sweetie!  Don’t forget to click on the blue frog below to see a ton of mouth-watering SRC creations!

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches, with Peanut Butter Cinnamon Cream.

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Salted Pretzel Macarons, 3 Years Blogging, and 3 GIVEAWAYS!

May 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Posted in Baseball, Cookies, Dessert, Giveaway, Macarons | 227 Comments
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So I had an idea, and it’s been blistering my brain for months now.  I wasn’t sure it would work, but I had to try it.  Things just kept getting in the way, and soon this idea was in limbo, wanting to move on, but unable to move out.  Well, I finally got to it, and I’m finally taking part in a MacTweet – regardless of that bendy joint in between my thigh and calf that tries to ‘trip’ me up.  If I had a nickel for every time the word ‘knee’ has been used on this blog, I’d have about …1 dollar.

Salted Pretzel Macarons

This month’s MacTweets theme is ‘Ballpark Snacks – Take me out to the Ballgame’, aka, food you usually find at a ballgame – as or in a macaron. It sort of went like this…

“Hey, Jamie (MacTweet co-founder, along with Deeba), I came up with this amazing salted pretzel macaron, and the shell really tastes like a pretzel, well, a sweet pretzel, like chocolate dipped pretzels..but I did add powdered mustard to a white chocolate ganache..and it’s actually good and…blah blah..zzzzz”

I lucked out, Jamie made this month’s theme a baseball one.  Big, soft, hot, chewy pretzels with gobs of mustard, at a Yankee game.  Yeah, that’s the life, well, when I’m there, and I haven’t been to a game in a while.  I’m pretty sure, if I recall, you can get chocolate dipped, crunchy pretzels at the new Yankee Stadium, too.  SO, I began to whip up my second go round of this macaron I created about 2 months or so ago.

Salted Pretzel Macarons

On your left, the salted pretzel powder.  This one needed to be sifted just once or twice more, as you can see there’s still tiny shell bits in it.  On the right, The color your finished/baked macarons should be – similar to graham cracker crumbs, to emulate a golden, baked pretzel.  I placed two small pretzel sticks on top to show youHowever, and very important, you want your tant pour tant about two shades  lighter than  above, as the color deepens when folded with the egg whites.  The wrinkled macarons below were made from this tant pour tant.  See how much darker they are than the original tant pour tant above , which looks to be the perfect baked pretzel color match?

Salted Pretzel Macarons

The above are filled with Nutella.  The rest of the photos, just plain, dark chocolate ganache.  AS promised, I supplied a recipe for the white chocolate – mustard ganache, below, even though I couldn’t show it to you in a macaron.

Well, guess what?  Two NEW ‘typical Lisa’ disasters!  I think it’s getting to the point where a disaster is to be expected with every new post here.  Sorry.

1.  Batch #1 – The tops deflated and wrinkled.  No idea why.  They looked like old ladies after years and years of sun worshiping.  Tan 1.5-inch raisin rounds.  If anyone has a clue, please fill me in.  I’ve dealt with no feet, flat shells, too poofy shells, and big feet, but never wrinkly faces.  They’re being bitches again.

2. Batter #2 spilled onto my lap.  I don’t want to say how.

Salted Pretzel Macarons

     This is the ‘too dark  and wrinkled’ batch.  In all of my years (well. three) of wrestling with these divas. I’ve never seen this before.

So, I had a choice, try again or use these photos from my first try creating the salted pretzel macaron.  They sat in my photo program as a sort of a back-up in case of sudden bitchiness.  I hated this attempt because the color was off, the feet were weird, and I piped them so quickly I ended up with too many baby shells. I also accidentally sprinkled pretzel salt on all the drying shells, instead of every other one, so I had to use two salted shells per macaron. Oh, and and the word – BAD.  BUT, they had to do, since I wasn’t sure I had the time or patience to make them again within the next two weeks.  So here they are and they taste SO good, so eff the aesthetics for now.

Are you happy, Ms. Meanie Macaron Goddess?

I basically took one shot of them from different distances.  I have no idea why I used a light blue mug and red ribbon, especially since light blue is the death of food photos.  Oh, and that white lace background?  Out to pasture for good.

Had I not encountered any problems the second and third time around, I had some great background ideas, like broken pretzels, chocolate and mustard as props, and maybe a beer or two.  And, I was going to fill them with this perfect white chocolate -mustard ganache I came up with (sounds gross but it isn’t, I promise), but I never got around to it, so I think  these will be making another appearance on this blog, the way I originally planned them. (Yeah, I was going to perfect my Twoffle for another entry, and the third Levain Copycat attempt I keep promising everyone. I’m a bad blogger.)

Salted Pretzel Macarons


Even though you didn’t get to see my perfectly ‘pretzel colored’ macs, you can see the color in the tant pour tant photo above. Notice the pretzel stick I placed to show you how close the color was? mentioned above..under the photo of it, you have to go about two shades lighter than that because when folded with the egg whites, the color deepens considerably.  I said it twice because it sucked for me when that tant pour tant turned a deep, reddish brown after being combined with the whites – far from the golden, baked pretzel looking shells I so coveted.

I assume the wrinkled ones wrinkled in protest of the ugly color they were made to wear. Once again..little bitches.   Oh, and that perfectly baked pretzel colored tant pour tant? That ended up being the batter that became my lap puppy.  Go figure.

So, here is the perfect pretzel color for these macarons..not what you see in the photos. Americolor gels – equal parts warm brown and egg yolk, plus 1 part gold.

I color the tant pour tant and let it dry overnight.  You don’t have to do that.  You can color the egg whites while beating, or drop in the color during your ’50 strokes’.

Salted Pretzel Macarons

             Some of those ‘baby’ macarons from inconsistent pressure on the piping bag.

All in all, if you love sweet, dipped pretzels, these shells hit that flavor perfectly.  Fill them with whatever you like, from sweet to savory, you won’t be disappointed!

Now onto the good part, minus the whining and bitching.  Myy three year blogiversary is upon me. (ME ME ME..again).  It’s actually May 26th, but I probably won’t have a post up on the 26th, so I want to celebrate it now….with 3  Giveaways!  I love you guys, and love that you like my blog.  I even love those of you who are just coming for the giveaway, because, well..Oh, I don’t know, just feeling the love today.  These prizes will definitely help in your macaron making, or cookie and cake decorating…or whatever floats your boat (I won’t go there).  This is not a promotion, I bought all of the prizes myself to give away to YOU.

I’m giving away 1 big prize (well..bigger in relation to the two others).  An Ateco 55 Piece Pastry Tip Set ((Set includes coupler, flower nails and Ateco’s most popular stainless steel decorating tubes in a plastic hinged storage box)  plus 12 Ateco gel paste colors (black, blue, yellow, green, pink, red, teal, orange, fuchsia, violet, sky blue, and brown – remember, a little bitty drop goes a long way!)

For two runners up. I’m giving away two Ateco 14-Piece Cake Decorating Sets (12 inch flexible bag with hem and hanging loop and 12 stainless steel decorating tubes. Also includes a plastic coupler (pre-attached to bag), instructions, recipes, and a clear plastic storage box)

How to Enter:  You have three chances to win any three of the prizes.  Three separate comments for each entry. You can just leave one comment if you want, but why not increase your chances? :)

1.  Leave a comment telling me what you like to eat at sporting events, and/or just a comment on this macaron entry if you don’t go to sporting events.

2.  Follow me on Twitter @parsleynsage, or you can click on the little blue tweety bird at the top right of this page to go right to my profile and follow.

3 Tweet about this giveaway – 3 #GIVEAWAYS, 3 #WINNERS  @parsleynsage – 55 Piece Pastry Tip Set plus 12 gel colors, & 2 Cake Decorating Sets

All three winners will be chosen via random integer on Jun 2nd, so that’s 12 days you have to enter!  Good luck, everyone!

Salted Pretzel Macarons with Chocolate Ganache

Salted Pretzel Macarons
1 cup(110 grams) icing sugar
3/4 cup (84 grams) almond meal
2 tablespoons (10 grams) pretzel powder (method follows)
2 large(70 grams) egg whites
3 tablespoons (37 grams) granulated sugar
Pretzel salt or coarse salt
Warm Brown, Egg Yolk Yellow and Gold Americolor gel pastes

DIRECTIONS: (adapted from Tartelette)
1. Place the powdered sugar, pretzel powder, and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add in the gel food colors and pulse until you reach a golden pretzel color you’re satisfied with.  I used about 3-4 drops of each of brown and yellow, plus 1 big drop of gold, for 2 egg white macarons. Let the tant pour tant dry overnight, or spread on a cookie sheet and let dry in a turned off oven for a few hours.

2. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry.

3. Add the tant pour tant (nut, sugar, pretzel powder amalgamation) to the beaten egg whites and sugar.  Give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10.

4. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Lightly sprinkle every other round with pretzel or coarse salt.

5. Preheat the oven to 300F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of ganache in the center of one shell and top with another one.

Salted Pretzel Powder
About 2 handfuls of lightly salted pretzel bites, or thin sticks, or twists, shape doesn’t matter.

1.  In a food processor, grind the pretzels as fine as you can.  Now this is the important part, you need to sift the powder because small bits of the golden shell do not break down to a fine powder.

White Chocolate – Mustard Ganache
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon mustard powder
3/4 cup white chooclate
Yellow gel paste..optional

1. Boil the cream and the mustard powder in a saucepan and pour over the chocolate in a bowl. Let it sit for a minute and stir until the chocolate is completely melted.  Add 1 or two drops yellow gel paste color and stor until uniform and a yellow mustard color.  Add more if needed. Let ganache sit in the refrigerator overnight and whip the next day until a thick cream is formed.  You don’t have to whip it, you can just stir and pipe it on as is, a more truffle like consistency.

2. Pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of ganache in the center of one plain shell and top with a salted shell.

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Crafty Cookies – Bugs, Flowers and Baseball

September 27, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Posted in Baseball, Cookies, Daring Bakers, Dessert | 47 Comments
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There’s few things in life that one is absolutely 100% sure about when it comes to oneself, but as you grow and learn, they start to add up.  For one, I know I’ll never be a blonde because I love being a brunette, and the only time I will ever dye my hair is when the gray starts to creep in.  Two, I know I will never eat a monkey, because well..they’re like people and probably don’t taste very good.  OK, I could fill a novel with ‘I will never’s’, so I’ll end at three.  I know I will never make a cent as a cookie decorator.  I suck at it.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

I cannot say enough about Mandy.  We became fast friends via Daring Bakers and we can just talk for hours on end about anything and everything.  She is truly a special gal, and when her turn to host the Daring Bakers challenge came up, I couldn’t have been more excited for her, plus, I knew she’d give us a goody, and she did.  It’s just too bad I’m such a royal icing slob with shaky hands.

Example of ‘flooding’ the cookie.  Outlining with a thick to medium consistency icing, then filling with a looser consistency icing, using a skewer to drag it into the corners and even it out.  Gives you a nice, crisp and neat border

As always, I left the challenge to the last minute, and as I type this entry, I still have gel paste all over my hands and crusty remnants of royal icing decorating my t-shirt.  You don’t even want to see the table where I worked on these cookies.  It looks a hurricane of technicolor shit ran through about 8 times.  I’m dreading cleaning up this disaster.  I envy people who can work neat when it comes to cake and cookie decorating and more than two colors of frosting or royal icing.

Also, as always, I had loads of great ideas running through my head when Mandy asked us to pick a theme that ‘said’ September to us.  I knew instantly where I was going.  September is the stretch before the baseball post season starts, and YES, it’s looking like my World Series defending champion NY Yankees will be in again (although they’re not looking like they’ll go past the first round at this time). Poo.

No idea why I didn’t leave well enough alone with just the yellow stripe and one red dot.  The caterpillar looks like it has a festering, pus-filled infection of some sort.

I had round cookie cutters for the baseballs, but that’s it, so I went ahead and ordered a baseball bat cookie cutter, a t-shirt cookie cutter that I could morph into a Yankee pinstripe jersey, and bid on a great baseball cap cookie cutter on ebay.  I lost the baseball cap at the very last second, (who are these ebay’ers who are able to sneak in a bid with 1 second left??  Let me at ’em! – I was the only bid prior!).  I couldn’t find another one like it locally and didn’t like the other caps I saw online, so I begrudgingly decided to just cut out a circle, color it with navy royal icing, pipe the Yankee logo on it, and boom, pretend you’re looking at the baseball cap super close up – your chin resting on the bill.  Thank you.

I made four bats – two broke, and one was eaten, so I only had one left for photos.  I also made four Yankee ‘authentic’ jerseys, two of which sucked, I mean really sucked, so much so that I don’t even want you to see them.  The two that made the cut suck too (I had no idea how hard it is to squeeze out perfectly thin pinstripes and a teeny, tiny interlocking NY).  A friend thought it was a jail uniform and I completely concur that it could be Black Bart’s daily wear.  In any event, my ‘balls’ turned out the best, so I will proudly showcase them and slip in the other stuff in flattering positions that hide how hideously crappy they are.  Didn’t work, crap on full display.  Even the interlocking NY on the cap looks like carp, and I initially thought I nailed it.

Again, I will never, ever be a cookie decorator.

God I suck at this cookie decorating thing.

On to part two.  I perused through Flickr to see what other cookie decorators do and as far as I’m concerned, they’re all freakin’ professionals.  Why aren’t there flaws in their designs and dents in their royal icing?  The perfection and awe factor is just mind- blowing!

I knew there was no way I was even coming to close to that kind of artistry, but I really wanted to do ladybugs…and flowers..and more bugs.  I saw a gal who did just that and decided to do a take on her gorgeous, flawlessly royal iced ‘Spring’ cookies.  I know..not a September theme here in the Northeast US, but I don’t care – just pretend I live down under, k?  Hey, mates, put another caterpillar on the barbie!  More crappy decor isd on its way!

To decorate these cookies, I purchased squeeze bottles for the royal icing colors.  It just seemed so much easier and less messy than pastry bags and, these bottles are equipped with couplers and tips- jackpot!  Well..I was wrong.  Maybe a teeny bit easier, but the mess is no different once you’ve got the bottles loaded and ready to go, especially since I had to use pastry bags to fill the small necked bottles!  Mess doubled, but I was pumped, how hard can using a squeeze bottle be?  I always use them to decorate plates with sauces beautifully.

Well, when you’re trying to pipe intricate stuff and your hand is shaking, not to mention bottle clog when you’re in the middle of an attempt at a perfectly straight border or line,  it doesn’t matter what you use.  I should have just finger painted the damn things!  Most would think I did by the look of my cookies….and hands.

Here’s some notes from my cookie decorating (the cookie baking was the waaaay easy part):

  • Adding the food color to the royal icing can be deceiving.  The bright red with a bit of orange for the ladybugs looked too light as I was mixing it in, so I kept adding more until it was perfect.  It looked great freshly piped – but dried into an almost dull maroon.  Apparently, gel paste colors take a bit of sitting to fully morph into the color you want, so adding more will screw you every single time.  No maroon ladybugs in nature.
  • My flowers obviously also do not exist in nature, but it would be cool if they did.  I did try to give the yellow flowers (sunflowers, possibly?) some shading with orange powdered food color, but it looks more like someone spilled Tang on them.
  • My caterpillars looked great, but I had to keep adding and adding…ending up with bloody, pus filled, festering wounds instead of the pretty dots I was going for.
  • Trying to pipe the Yankee logo freehand is near impossible – you need some kind of stencil..unless you’re good at piping or a pro.  Note to self: Next time find and use a stencil.

All in all, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVED this challenge because it was like being back in HS art class – minus the teacher breathing over my shoulder and telling me to go easy on the color, but I probably won’t be decorating cookies again because I suck at it.

To get the recipe for the yummy sugar cookies and royal icings, click HERE.  To see the gorgeously decorated and unique themes my fellow Daring Bakers came up with, click HERE.

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How to build a Gingerbread House at the last minute

December 28, 2009 at 11:42 pm | Posted in Candy, Cookies, Daring Bakers, Dessert | 88 Comments
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This isn’t really a ‘how-to’, but a facetious take on my Daring Baker modus operandi the last few months – unintentionally saving DB challenges for the last minute, then rushing, panicking and putting out something I’m usually less than pleased with.  I’m beginning to wonder if it has more to do with loving the pressure than actually being too busy.  Well, to be fair, I was doing a ton of baking throughout December, and uhh that blue-eyed guy .

That being said, I’ve never, ever baked and constructed a gingerbread house, unless you count the mini graham cracker house I put together out of boredom with some leftover royal icing for sugar cookie decor.  Come to think of it, I’ve never even baked gingerbread cookies!  However, gingerbread houses always intrigued me, and I used to love watching the Grove Park National Gingerbread Competition prior to each X-Mas season.  In fact, I sort of thought about even taking part in it one day because they make it look so it couldn’t be that hard, right?


Here’s the deal, as some of you know, I tend to make things a lot harder than they have to be, so in wanting to do something different, I made it harder than it had to be.  I recall seeing all these great tips on those airings of the GB competition, but suddenly I couldn’t recall any of them.  How did Christine Banner (major GB House masteress and winner/placer in several of the competitions) incorporate that pattern into the gingerbread wall prior to baking?  How did she make her wreaths again?? I remember locking those tips up in my cerebral vault in case I ever built a gingerbread house, but someone must have broken in and stole them.  Hmm..what were they REALLY doing during my knee surgery?

Anyhoo, they were such simple and fantastic ideas, but now they were gone and I couldn’t find it on the net anywhere, not to mention there was no airing of the competition this year.  Okie dokie, I was going to have to figure most of this out on my own, and try to be creative and not too messy.

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.  Thank you Y amd Anna..thank you for truly challenging me.  I’m still finding pieces of dried up royal icing on my kitchen floor!

Y and Anna each provided a recipe they liked, so I made half of each, using them both for my house.  Problem was, I forgot to label them, so I have no idea which was which, and therefore cannot comment on them fairly.  I just know one tasted better, and one was a bit better for building.  Oh, well.

As mentioned above, I wanted to sway from the norm a bit, and decided to go nautical, as in a Gingerbread Lighthouse ‘nautical’, even though it kind of just sits there on the beach and well, lights.  I perused the net, and it was the oddest thing – there were very few gingerbread lighthouses, even photo wise.  I only found one instructional Gingerbread Lighthouse at Coastal Living.  Naturally, things can never be easy – the templates to the lighthouse were missing. I wasn’t surprised, since I’m the walking, talking epitome of Murphy’s Law.   No matter how slim a chance of something going wrong is, it will sliver it’s way into my lair of responsibilities, interests and motivation, and eff up every nook and cranny.

For about a week, I tried to make my own templates, using the photo of the house..but if you know me, I’m a kind of ‘draw outside the lines’ person (architecture was obviously not something I was ever going to excel at in life), so that was scratched.  I finally resigned myself to building your basic square cottage like house – then ALAS, someone found a link to the templates on another site.  Here’s Gingerbread Lighthouse TEMPLATE NUMBER ONE and here’s Gingerbread Lighthouse TEMPLATE NUMBER TWO, considering Coastal Living seems oblivious to the fact that templates are umm..helpful and somewhat of a necessity!?!  Writing them several times resulted in diddly squat aka no response, so I was relieved to finally find them.

So, I was going to be able to do this lighthouse after all, whoopee! One small problem, though, I had to order the candy.   Yes, yes,…I know, I could have subbed with your basic M&M’s, Necco wafers, candy canes etc..but NO, I wanted the candy they used for the lighthouse, and having been to Maine on a few occasions, I recall how great the little candy stores were, especially in Bar Harbor.  Plus, I really really wanted those chocorocks!  I HAD to have them, and not only for the walls, but because I think they’re really neat and want to eat them.  I also wanted Gummi lobsters, but they were nowhere to be found around here,  Oh, how I wish I had the time to pop into the city to Dylan’s Candy Bar – but forget parking during the X-mas season.

SO, 2 weeks before this was due, I ordered, and ordered, and ordered, and before I knew it, I had spent almost $60.00 buckaroos on bleepin’ candy (I could only get the chocorocks in bulk, as in 5 lbs of bulk, so that played a part – now, what else can I use them for after the GB house and after I eat some??)  Naturally, the candy that was supposed to arrive within 3-4 business days took 6-7 business days, leaving me with approximately 4 days to knock this out, with X-mas in between, so in retrospect, that really works out to 2 to 2 1/2 days.  ACK.

Now, factor in the prep.  The lighthouse walls needed a coating of royal icing for the chocolate rocks (aesthetically more pleasing than just sticking them on brown gingerbread), and since I printed the templates at 200% (the 100% printing was too tiny), there was a good amount of area to cover, resulting in a longer drying time before I could actually start constructing.  I made two extra walls in case of breakage, and guess what (Murphy’s Law)?  They BOTH broke, as did one of the main walls.

In between the drying, which was almost futile because out of the clear frucking blue, rain and humidity struck, (Murphy’s Law again, since the weather has been super cold, dry and crisp for months prior) and the royal icing patch up attempts failed. I now had less than 24 hours to get this baby up and to make matters worse, I had only 4 intact walls to do so, instead of the 5 that make this lighthouse a lighthouse..DAMN!

I need to find a tiny light for the windows.  I tried using a small candle (see above) for a quick shot and ended up burning my finger and warping the roof.  Brilliant, huh?

Well, I persevered and knocked out a lighthouse with 4 walls that still looks something like a lighthouse, minus the tapered neck (4 walls does not allow for a tapered neck due to the lack of the octagonal shape that the 5th wall provides).  OK, now I feel like I’m speaking Japanese to you all, so I’ll stop here.

Here’s some things I did to this lighthouse that differed from Coastal Living’s, outside of doubling the size.

  • Gingerbread wreath coated with green royal icing, silver dragees and a strawberry leather bow.
  • Full pretzel railing, plus bows I made out of strawberry leather, and err, extra ‘snow’ aka, I F’ed up.
  • Multi-colored sprinkle milk chocolate nonpareils, cut into wedges, for the roof.  Extra snow *wink*
  • Silver luster dust outlining some of the rocks in the wall for added shimmer and dimension.
  • Candy coated chocolate seashells, along with the Gummi lobsters, on the beach.
  • Lemon, butterscotch and orange Lifesavers melted into the window cut-outs a la stained glass cookies.  Kind of meant to emulate the reflection of the sunset or the light inside the lighthouse.
  • Ground up Pecan Sandies for the sand.  I forgot about the oil in the nuts, so let’s call it ‘wet’ sand.

Finally, royal icing..can we talk?  That stuff is like freakin’ mortar.  D likened it to caulk, where if you make a mistake or have gaps, you just caulk it up.  Damn straight!  OH, that pretzel is off-kilter..let’s caulk it up and call it snow!  Oh darn, there’s a gap between wall number one and wall number two – let’s caulk it up and stick a piece of cinnmaon licorice in it..there it’s gone!

My new mantra –  ‘When gingerbread houses give you cracks and gaps, make snow!” 

You could lay bricks with royal icing – I’m dead serious.  UPDATE:  The top wasn’t glued on, and it fell off as I was carrying it down some stairs.  It bounced on and hit every step hard, really slamming against the floor at the bottom.  I was sure it was a goner.  Guess what?  Not even a tiny chip.  I think I should carry this stuff in my purse.  Dentists should use it to bond teeth!

In keeping with the ‘nautical’ theme, I created Lobster Claus (Claus – Claws?) with leftover gingerbread dough.

Now that I’ve written my usual food manifesto, please be sure to check out the Daring Bakers Blogroll to see some really phenomenal Gingerbread Houses.  BTW, does anyone want a Gingerbread Lighthouse?  Please..take it off my hands!!

For the recipes and full instructions, click HERE.

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