Remember last year when I made a 3D Gingerbread Christmas Tree out of interlocking cookies so that the tree stands on it’s own? I had so much fun making it that I decided to do something for Halloween too. This time I made a tree from four pieces so that the eight branches resemble spider legs. Perched in a dish of candy it looks rather creepy.
To make this I used one batch of Gingerbread House dough from Simply Recipes that was divided into four equal pieces before chilling it. I roll it to 1/4-inch thickness and bake it until the edges are browning so that it’s as dry and strong as possible. Directions and templates are all below.
I think I have some changes to make but in the mean time I feel like I’ve figured out how to roll out gingerbread dough with as little swearing as possible. As much as I love making gingerbread for construction purposes I really dislike rolling it out. Here is my set up:
The Roll-Pat is an investment but it gives me a smooth surface to use. It grips the tabletop and keeps parchment paper from slipping. A nice, heavy and super wide rolling pin with handles also makes a huge difference, before this I only had a cylinder rolling pin but this one with handles makes the job a lot easier. I have a 15″ rolling pin and it is large enough for everything I’ve used it for so far. I have both silicone and rubber rolling pin rings (one set has 1/2 inch and the other has 5/8ths inch heights). I cannot fit the thicker rubber rings around my larger rolling pin so I switch to my narrower rolling pin if I need to use them.
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· comments  · 10-26-2012 · categories:food · halloween ·
· comments  · 10-22-2012 · categories:halloween · links ·
These Trick-or-Treat cookies have a surprise inside. Each cookie either holds a treat, like mini chocolate candies, or a trick, here they are small sugar ants. Which will you get? You’ll have to break one open to find out.
How to make Trick-or-Treat cookies:
Make one or more batches of cut out cookie dough (recipe below, or use your favorite) and after chilling it take it out of the fridge to warm up so it can be rolled out. Preheat your oven to 350 and clear a shelf in your fridge or a spot in your freezer large enough to hold a cookie sheet.
Roll out one half of your dough between two sheets of parchment paper to a 1/4th inch thickness. Remove the top layer of parchment and cut out your cookies, dipping the cutter in flour to keep it from sticking. We’ll be baking the cookies on this same parchment so space them about an inch apart.
Right now you are cutting two parts of each cookies (the top and the bottom) so if you have an asymmetrical cutter be sure to flip it over and cut half of them mirror image, as shown above.
Trim the parchment away from the dough so that it’s small enough to sit on your cookie sheet and slide the parchment onto the cookie sheet. Put this in the fridge or freezer to firm up so you can pull away the excess dough.
Later we’ll baking the cookies right on this sheet so trimming the parchment means they’ll bake flat. I keep the cookies on this same parchment throughout so they don’t have a chance to lose their shape.
Once the dough has firmed up pull away the excess from around the cut out shapes. You can save the scraps for more cookies later.
Before baking chill the cookies and the cookie sheet again for about 10 minutes before putting them in the oven. (You can roll out your second layer while you’re waiting, instructions are just under the next photo.)
Bake for about 10 minutes, checking and rotating the cookie sheet half way through. After that check often and remove once the edges of the cookies are just starting to look brown and the tops look set.
Slide the parchment onto a cooling rack and let them sit for a few minutes until the cookies are cool and strong enough to slide them off the parchment and right onto the cookie rack.
Roll your second half of the dough to 1/2″ or 3/8″ thick. You’ll be cutting the middles for you cookies so only cut half as many this time, so if you cut six earlier, you only need three now. (No need to make mirror image cut outs this time.) Use smaller cutters to create a hole in the center of each shape.
Trim the parchment, slide onto a cookie sheet and chill the dough as you did for the first round. When it’s firm remove the excess dough from the outside as well as the inside of your shapes.
Again, chill these very well on the cookie sheet before baking them. Check and rotate after five minutes and keep an eye on them after that. Remove when the bottom edges begin to brown and cool carefully, as you did for the first set.
While your cookie pieces are cooling mix up some glue from one cup of powdered sugar and four tablespoons of milk (as per the recipe below). Put this into a sandwich sized zip bag and clip a teeny tiny corner off.
Lay your cookies out so the bottom piece has the flattest side up, the middle and tops will have the flattest side down. When constructed the top and the bottom of your cookies will show the pretty side that was up while they were baking and they’ll look nice and tidy. If you have asymmetrical cookies here be sure all the bits will match when they are sandwiched.
Glue the middle part of your cookie to the bottom.
Fill the cookies with your trick or your treat. Be random, no cheating! Don’t overfill them and check to make sure the top of your cookie will fit on with no trouble. It’s much easier to do this not before more sugar glue is introduced.
I made four different shapes: pumpkins, ghosts, tombstones and coffins (my favorite).
A detail shot to show the middle layer of cookie is a bit thicker than the top and bottom layers.
Glue the top on, decorate if you’d like, and you’re done! Now, serve these and see how much fun people have breaking them open.
Important: Make sure anything you might put inside these cookies is edible, you don’t want somebody accidentally swallowing something like a plastic spider (which I really, really wanted to hide inside these).
These cookies were inspired by the Pinata Cookies made over at She Knows, which are genius. Since I didn’t need mine to be striped I used a cut out sugar cookie recipe instead and created a thicker middle layer. I did try to cut the cookies out when the dough comes out of the oven and is still warm, the technique that is in the She Knows recipe, but found it created an edge that was too crumbly.
I used a set of seven Halloween cookie cutters made by Wilton for the cookies you see here. I cannot seem to find the same set online, it came packaged in a coffin shaped box and it’s probably already 50% off at Joann. The middles of my cookies were cut out using my Ateco 12-piece round cutters, which I love and find myself using often.
I find rolling dough to be tedious so I invested in a Roll-Pat (that page shows it as Roul-Pat but mine says Roll-Pat on it). It’s similar to a Silpat but oversized and the bottom layer grips your counter top. This is lovely because I prefer to roll dough between two layers of parchment and this keeps the parchment from slipping on my counter top. Love it, especially as what I think of as gingerbread construction season arrives.
There are so many options for what tricks you can hide inside, here I used some black cake decorations made by Wilton, they are complete edible but don’t taste like much. I also considered some small flat sour gummy candies, salted licorice coins, various cake decorations (skull and crossbones!) and Pop Rocks. For the treats the only things could find that are small enough are mini M&Ms or (my favorite) Valrhona Perles Craquant. Sadly I found that Reeses Pieces or candy corn wouldn’t fit inside, I tried. A friend mentioned that mini-candy corn might exist in the world and if I’d managed to find some I definitely would have used that as well.
I’m also considering seeing if I can make the coffin cookies tall enough to fill with some sugar skeleton pieces I found. I’d also include the Valrhona Perles Craquant as graveyard dirt. And small gummi worms if I can find some.
Click more for the recipe. [Read more →]
· comments  · 10-18-2012 · categories:food · halloween ·
· comments  · 10-15-2012 · categories:halloween · links ·
This, my friends, is a 3-foot long package of spaghetti. Because when I find something like that in a store I don’t leave it there. Our day will be spent with family and friends who are visiting and friends who are already here, I have limeaid and cheese toasts ready and waiting. But July 5th will be devoted to cooking up excessively long spaghetti. Because America is all about excess. Or something like that. Actually the spaghetti is very festive looking in a Big Looming Firework In Your Dining Room sort of way. I hope you have a great day and manage to stay cool!
· comments  · 07-4-2012 · categories:food · holidays ·
A bunch of fabulous Easter stuff pulled from my Pinterest holiday board.
Neon eggs are all over (don’t forget that neon food coloring can be found in grocery stores) and these from Oh Joy are fabulously simple.
Similar and just as easy, these gold dipped pink eggs from Fabulous K are stunning.
These are sweet – carrot shaped cupcakes baked in ice cream cones. Over at Hostess With the Mostess.
Clever cheesecake inside of chocolate eggs is fairly grown up while keeping the eggie happiness. Made by Raspberri Cupcakes.
I love the tumbled look of these Gilded Eggs from Pencil Shavings.
Easter surprise carrots! An oldy but a goody from Martha Stewart.
This washi tape paper mache egg from Traveling Mama is nice and very simple because it’s based on a paper egg from a craft store.
· comments  · 04-6-2012 · categories:holidays ·
· comments  · 03-16-2012 · categories:holidays · links ·
· comments  · 02-10-2012 · categories:holidays · links ·
My love of traditional English Christmas Crackers (the paper sort, not the edible sort) has been well documented. Since it takes two people to open one they seem like a good choice as a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day as well. (With my apologies to traditionalists, sorry about that.)
I found the supplies I needed at a local shop and decided it was meant to be. I added a few decorative details in my instructions below that can be skipped to make it easier. All you really need are a tube (a paper towel tube will work great), some cracker snaps (a specialty crafts store should have them), some decorative paper (crepe or tissue paper) to wrap it all up in and some fun little things to put inside. I decided to go for a few handmade details:
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· comments  · 02-8-2012 · categories:holidays ·
· comments  · 02-6-2012 · categories:holidays · links ·
Earlier I posted about how to turn a tree shaped cookie cutter into one that is interlocking and standing (shown above). I wrote about the way to interlock three cookies but I wanted to say that I started this project by using the same 8 inch tall cookie cutter and much thinner dough to make trees that used six layers that slotted together. I made them in the same year I showed the gingerbread houses that perch on the edge of a mug. Here are some photos that I took waaaay back in 2009:
I made small ones that used three cookies, and large ones that used six cookies:
Trouble was that the larger trees curled, the layers of dough wouldn’t cool flat no matter how careful I was, leading to them looking like this:
It had a nice geometric look but just lacked a certain amount of charm and, dare I say it?, looked like beef jerky. Also, it required rolling dough out to a point where it was unreasonably thin. Still, at that point in time I was a bit caught up with interlocking as many cookies as I could.
The smaller trees were flat and looked fine but I’m happier with my current version using thicker dough that allows you to decorate the edges. My lesson? More isn’t always better. Um, less is more? That sounds better. Ok, Happy Holidays everybody I’ll see you in the near year!
· comments  · 12-22-2011 · categories:christmas ·
I made 3D Christmas Tree Gingerbread Cookies for Christmas. They slot together and don’t require icing to hold them up. Below I explain how to 3Dize your own cookie cutters and I also provide printable templates in case you don’t have a tree cookie cutter you like.
Click through for a how-to.
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· comments  · 12-21-2011 · categories:christmas ·
How to: Make Modern Perforated Christmas Trees » Curbly | DIY Design Community. These look like the porcelain ones from West Elm, nice job.
12 Days of Christmas Gifts | Mighty Girl. Love!
MinuteFrame: Order a framed photo in less than one minute. This one is the service of a friend of a friend, and I have not tried it but it looks so darn handy. Very simply you upload a photo to have printed at the 5×7 size, they do the printing and framing and ship it to your giftee.
mirrormirror: Christmas Cupcake Decorating at Trophy Cupcake. Paola includes tip numbers and notes on technique for some fancy cupcakes. They look great Paola!
Calvin and Hobbes Snowmen Truffles · Edible Crafts.
Festive Topped Jars at You Are My Fave. Simple and very impressive! Via Edible Crafts.
Felted Bell Ornaments – the purl bee. So sweet.
· comments  · 12-19-2011 · categories:christmas · links ·
Have you seen this amazing Gingerbread Brownstone made by Kitchen Table Scraps? Even better, she shows how to make it including shaping the rounded front windows, adding all the detail and lighting it from the inside. Super greatness.
· comments  · 12-13-2011 · categories:christmas · food ·
· comments  · 12-6-2011 · categories:christmas · links ·