I’ve always had a thing for gingerbread houses. The design possibilities are endless, and it’s so much fun to gather the supplies and candy and let your imagination take over.
But my love for them hasn’t.
So when I learned there was a gingerbread house exhibition I grabbed a friend and off we went.
This beautiful cake greeted us upon entering the historic library building where the exhibition was taking place. Yes, I know it’s not a ‘house’, but I simply couldn’t leave it out of this post. Isn’t it lovely?
There were well over 235 houses that were displayed. Anyone that wanted to take part in the event was welcome to do so…children of all ages, professional bakers and anyone in between.
The vast majority of the houses were traditional like this one…
but there were many that defied tradition with fabulous results, such as this one…
and this one…
and this one…
Many of the artists choose a specific theme. In this case, it was ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’, with all the trimmings, made from using marzipan.
This Donut Shop, with adorable donuts painstakingly handmade, stole my heart. I remember using small shredded wheat for a roof one year too!
I love the use of mini marshmallows for snow. I think I’ll have to steal that one.
When we first walked into the building, there was a lovely Christmas tree just in front of the staircase that had a contemporary topper that I thought was really creative and dramatic. The silver plume is nothing more than ornamental grass that was spray painted. With the addition of a few other decorative elements and a sparkly bow, it all came together beautifully.
Have you ever made a gingerbread house? I usually buy the house already made because let’s face it, the fun part is decorating it. 🙂
In other news…
There’s no shortage of things to do this time of year, is there? This is us at an antique car show a couple of weeks ago in Stockbridge, which takes place every year. (Some of you saw a few pics on Instagram or Facebook.)
We made those cookies I mentioned last week and they were super easy and good. If you like the idea of baking but hate the mess, these cookies are just the ticket. With these cookies, you can focus on the fun part of making cookies…cutting out the shapes and decorating them, so they’re perfect for kids to do too.
- 4 VERY ripe mushy bananas
- 3/4 cup of sugar
- 1/3 cup of melted, unsalted butter
- 1 egg, preferably at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon good quality vanilla
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 cup of all purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
- pinch of salt
- 1 cup of either semisweet/bittersweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate. I actually didn't use semisweet at all, but rather a combination of milk chocolate and bittersweet Callebaut, which is my preferred brand for baking. Any kind of chocolate is fine as long as it's good quality.
- 2-3 oz. of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, melted in a microwave. Check and stir every 20 seconds. Just before completely melted, stir and you're done.
- Preheat your oven to 350
- Grease muffin tin with butter. (DO NOT use liners).
- Place bananas in a large bowl along with the butter and mush it up with a fork until no large clumps of banana remain. Blend until smooth.
- Now add the sugar, egg and vanilla and mix just until they're combined.
- Add the salt and baking soda and stir.
- Now add the flour and mix just until combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
- Add chocolate chips or chopped chocolate.
- Divide mixture into muffin tins, filing about 3/4 full.
- Now here's where the magic happens: take your melted chocolate and place about 1 teaspoon on top of muffins. Swirl, using a toothpick, to combine the chocolate with the muffin mixture slightly. I would have taken a picture of this, but like I said, I wasn't planning on sharing this recipe on the blog. I know. Crazy, right?
- Bake until the center of a toothpick comes out clean (or almost clean). I like slightly undercooking my baked goods because I always think they come out moister that way.
- The kind of chocolate you use is not super important. I used milk chocolate and bittersweet because that's what I had on hand. Semi-sweet is fine too, if that's all you have.
- Remember, don't use a liner. These muffins are so moist that they'll fall apart when you remove the liner.