Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Mini Gingerbread Houses


Gingerbread Ingredients:

  • 3 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons of brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup of corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup of margarine
*Note: if you like the look of a darker gingerbread house, use dark brown sugar and dark corn syrup. I used a dark brown sugar in mine.
*Read before mixing gingerbread ingredients: (It will be repeated later but in case you don't always read through instructions before mixing:) Combine corn syrup, brown sugar and margarine in a saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until margarine is melted. Please make sure to remember this because I made the mistake of accidentally skipping over this and not actually doing it. 

Royal Icing Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound of powdered sugar
  • 2 egg whites at room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cream of tartar
*Note: the frosting should have a nice and thick texture to it. Add extra powdered sugar to ensure that it is thick enough. (For some reason mine turned into a thin icing type texture but I am not positive that I used the correct measurements for the powdered sugar.)

To make the gingerbread 
1. Stir dry ingredients together in a large bowl. 
2. Combine corn syrup, brown sugar and margarine in a saucepan. Stir constantly over medium heat until margarine is melted. Combine liquid and flour mixtures. Mix well using hands to mix as dough becomes stiff.  Chill dough for half an hour.
3. Roll dough into 1/8 inch thickness onto parchment paper. Using this template from www.notmartha.org and cut into shapes.
Remove the scraps and re roll into more dough to cut into shapes.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown at 350 degrees. Cool completely on a rack.

To make the royal icing
a. Place egg whites into the bowl of a mixer. 
b. Sift the sugar into a bowl. Add sugar and cream of tartar to whites while mixing. 
c. When all sugar is incorporated, turn mixer on high and beat until thick and very white, about 5-7 minutes. Cover the icing with a damp cloth until you use it because it dries quickly.
d. Pipe icing into a piping bag with a small tip (or into a sandwich baggie and snip a tiny bit off the corner if you don’t have a piping bag). 

House Building and Decorating
1. Ice one side to the front piece and let it dry completely before assembling the rest of the house.
2. To make the roof ice the top and them cover in sprinkles or crushed candy canes and allow to dry completely.
3. Attach the roof to the house. Decorate the fronts of the houses with patters and dust them lightly with powdered sugar.

Rating
5/5 
   I chose this recipe because looking at the pictures from the website, they looked like totally adorable and simple gifts that I could give to my friends for Christmas. Little did I know, (this was my first time coming in contact with any type of gingerbread houses so I had been in oblivion to how hellish these things actually are.) that making ginger bread houses turned out to be a totally awful experience.) ( Also adding that I got really sick on the day I stayed home making these so while assembling, I was not on my top game.) 
   Assembling difficulties aside, everyone that ate one really liked them so the recipe for the actual gingerbread is good. 
   While these things look cute and all and sort of turned out, I'm never making them again. The whole thing was tedious and I was exhausted by the time it was over. (More than 4 hours in the making.)

Notes:
   This is the kind of recipe that you have to read over before making. The site that I got it from had many pictures in between the parts of the instructions so i actually missed a huge point in the process and had to start over. If you do not melt the wet ingredients before combining everything, it becomes crumbly and doesn't mix in.
   During the back aching process of cutting all of my pieces out, I had noticed that the dough did not feel right to me. What I advise is after every time you cut a bunch out and have to re-roll, put the dough in a bowl and warm it up in the microwave for about 11 seconds and then roll it out. 
   I'm not sure if it was just something that I did in the process of mixing, but it felt as though I was missing something or there weren't enough wet ingredients. While making the houses, I discovered that my frosting didn't dry right away and I had to have the sides of the houses lean on something before I could stand the house up. As shown in pictures, this was the technique I came up with.
   If you have space between the two roof pieces, adjust the cookies to where you want them on the house and make a connecting line between them to hide it. 

This was how I had everything set up for the building process.
This was the assembling process for each of the houses with a couple minutes or so between each added part to ensure stability before the next piece was added or it was moved.

While waiting for the bottom part of the house to dry, I frosted and decorated the roof pieces. The decorating of the actual houses are really up to the individual. I chose a simple style while the next person may want to get fancy with a type of design or something. Truly, it will always be up to you.


These are my finished houses. I didn't really add anything as far as decorations go besides the roof tops. Also, as you can see below, I fixed any gaps between the roof tops with frosting and disguised it with the same sprinkles as on the roof.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Mug Brownie

Ingredients:
2 tablespoons butter (melted)
2 tablespoons water
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dash salt
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. melt butter in mug (I usually put it in for 48 seconds)
  2. add water
  3. add vanilla and salt
  4. add cocoa and sugar
  5. add flour
  6. Microwave for about 68 seconds (Mamma just likes to eat the batter but that's just me)

Review:
4/5  This tastes like a legit brownie and I've made this about 15 times so I do recommend. Sorry for the lack of photos by the way. I ran out of time this weekend but look out over the next week or so for Holiday themed recipes including gingerbread houses which I'm going to be giving out as gifts for my lovely friends. Our school is going on winter break next week so I'll have plenty of time to make things. (Though it'll probably be mainly cookies but I did find a recipe for a cranberry punch that I'd really like to find. See you later!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Chocolate Dipped Marshmallows With Crushed Peppermint

Ingredients:
1 pack of marshmallows
1 bag of peppermint candies (or candy canes) 
1 pack of sweetened melting chocolate (or chocolate candy coating)
Tooth picks

Directions:
1. Cut off the top of an egg carton. (This is for holding the marshmallows up while they set.) Set this close to your workspace. 
2. Unwrap peppermints and put them in a plastic baggie ( you can use a sandwich or gallon size). Using a metal spoon, mash the peppermints into small chunks. (We used an herb grinder to get a fine powder.)
3. Melt the chocolate (the one that I used said to put it in the microwave for 15 seconds at a time, stirring in between.) 
4. Put a toothpick through the middle of the marshmallow and dunk it in the chocolate. Let some drip off for a couple seconds and then sprinkle your peppermint on. After it has the amount you want, stick the end of the toothpick through the top of the egg carton (it works as a stand until the chocolate sets.) 

Notes:
This recipe is a hot mess. If you're not a fan of really messy food, I don't recommend this. We made these over a cookie sheet which is pretty ideal seeing how it ended up covered in peppermint and chocolate drippings. Stir the chocolate once and a while to make sure it doesn't harden. If it does, it's okay to just warm up in the microwave again. 
We used store brand melting chocolate which tasted sort of like hot chocolate. 
If you're using an herd grinder, make sure it isn't marble because the grinder (stick...thing) broke in half at one point.
Also, it's important that the chunks of peppermint are very small because otherwise, they'll drip off.
Melt the chocolate in a class measuring cup because the chocolate is easier to access and there's a handle for when it gets hot.
(We also found these HUGE marshmallows in my friends cupboard and made a couple gigantic ones.)

Rating:
Testers: 5/5
Mine: 0/5
Okay so maybe that's a little biased, seeing as though I really dislike chocolate peppermint...
Well my friends all really enjoyed them giving it an overall 5/5 ratings and a marriage proposal.