Life Is Better With Pancakes

Life Is Better With Pancakes

Life is better with pancakes. For the holidays, make ginger pancakes with ginger, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. The gingerbread spices mixed with whole wheat flour, buttermilk and one secret ingredient. They rival my favorite gingerbread boys with much less sugar and butter. That’s how they became my new favorite holiday treat!Nordic Ware Holiday Pancake Pan

Life Is Better With Pancakes – Equipment:

Secret Ingredient:

  • Brewed coffee adds another layer of flavor and blends well with the gingerbread spices!Ginger PancakesLife is better with pancakes . . . make some ginger pancakes for a festive holiday breakfast!

Ginger Pancakes

Delicious whole-wheat pancakes mixed with gingerbread spices are perfect to serve during the holiday season! Inspired by Dream Cafe's ginger pancakes.

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 T. ground cinnamon
  • 1 t. ground ginger
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee

Instructions

  1. Combine the dry ingredients - flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt - in a bowl; mix well; set aside.

  2. In another bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, butter and coffee.

  3. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, blending until just incorporated.

  4. Cook the pancakes on a lightly oiled, pancake griddle or in a cast-iron skillet for approximately 4 minutes on the first side and 1 minute after flipping.

  5. Serve with fresh creamery butter and real maple syrup.

 

Decorating Gingerbread Houses

Decorating Gingerbread Houses

Decorating Gingerbread Houses is one of the most rewarding things that I have experienced.  

When my first two children were just toddlers, we began the holiday tradition of decorating gingerbread houses. Over the years, our tradition grew to neighborhood gingerbread house parties and school events.

In 2008, I chaired a holiday event for TCU Dallas alumni. Families decorated gingerbread houses. 

For six consecutive years, Laura Chudy with TCU’s development office and I planned this holiday event. We purchased a variety of purple and white candy (TCU’s colors), gingerbread houses and made arrangements with the venue. Prior to each party, TCU friends and I made purple and white trees, lollipop ponds, and mailboxes. Every year our Holiday event sold out. It was magical!

As the gingerbread house parties grew so did my collections of recipes, candy resources, hand-made candy, such as lollipop ponds, red doors, holiday trees, mailboxes and all of the basics for building and decorating gingerbread houses. In addition, I learned tips for organizing and planning gingerbread house parties.

With an array of gingerbread house kits available at grocery stores, drug stores and craft stores it’s easy to buy and decorate a gingerbread house with the simple contents found in the kit. Sometimes, this is the best option. However if you are ready for an adventure, with just a bit of planning and following the tips and recipes on my blog, you can take your gingerbread house project to an entirely new level. Your family and friends will be dazzled! The wonder and joy of the holidays will fill your heart. I guarantee!

Happy National Cookie Day!

Happy National Cookie Day!

Happy National Cookie Day! Today, I am celebrating one of my favorite Christmas traditions, baking cookies!

Baking at the age 7, in my mom’s kitchen with my sisters, cousins and neighbors. We baked cookies for Christmas and every holiday throughout the year. This is the exact cookie recipe that we baked. It is a tried and true delicious Holiday cookie recipe. I guarantee you will love it!

Happy National Cookie Day – Best Cookie Baking Tips:

  • The day before, make the dough, wrap in wax paper and chill overnight.
  • Use room temperature unsalted butter.
  • Before sifting, measure the all-purpose flour.
  • Sift the all-purpose flour four times.
  • Lightly floured Silicone baking mats are the best surface for rolling out the cookie dough.
  • Before rolling out, lightly flour the cookie dough’s surface. Prevents sticking to the rolling pin!
  • Use one cookie cutter per batch. The cookies will bake evenly.
  • After cutting out the shapes, leave the cookies on the silicone baking mat and remove the cookie dough between the cookies.
  • Gather the dough, gently knead it and roll it out for another batch. Once for re-rolling the dough, maybe twice because it becomes dry when too much flour is worked into it.
  • Slide the silicone baking mat onto a cookie sheet.
  • Preheat oven to 350Fº.
  • Set a timer for each batch of cookies – 10 minutes. Check and reset the timer for 1 or 2 minutes. Watch carefully! 
  • Underbaked cookies are the secret to softness. However, decorated cookies need to be cooked long enough to hold their shape!
  • The look of doneness is very light brown around the edges. Be careful not to over bake!
  • When the cookies are done. Place them on wire cooling racks to cool. After about 10 minutes, remove and place directly on the wire racks.

Best Cookie Recipe’s Secret Ingredients:

  • Three tablespoons whole milk makes the cookies moist.
  • Lemon zest gives a citrus flavor to the cookies. 
  • The acid in the cream of tartar reacts with the liquids in the cookie dough to produce carbon-dioxide gas bubbles, which break apart the gluten in the flour and lift the cookie dough.
  • The perfect ratio of butter to shortening! Butter provides flavor! A bit of shortening makes the cookies taller and more tender. 

Happy National Cookie Day – Special Equipment:

The Cookie Hotline:

  • If for any reason the recipe is unclear or you are disappointed with your cookies, please DM or email your question. I will get back with you asap! I’m on Instagram – MyTexasKitchen_ or susanapple@me.com.Decorative Sugar Cookies

Decorative Holiday Cookies

Best flavor, most tender and fun to decorate!

Adapted from Cook's Tour, Junior League cookbook of Shreveport, Louisiana.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Chill overnight. 2 hours

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cream of tartar
  • 1 cup room temperature unsalted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 T. whole milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. lemon juice
  • 1 zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 t. salt

Royal Icing: 5 cups confectioners' sugar, 4 egg whites and 1 t. cream of tartar

Instructions

  1. Measure the flour. Sift the flour, baking soda and cream of tartar four times; set aside.

  2. Cream the butter, shortening, sugar, milk, egg, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt.

  3. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients.

  4. Shape into a disk, wrap in wax paper and chill. Best chilled overnight.

  5. Preheat oven to 350F®

  6. Roll out on a lightly floured silicone baking mat. Cut into shapes. Remove the cookie dough between cookies.

  7. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until lightly brown.

  8. Cool on wire racks.

  9. Decorate with icing:

    1. Outline each cookie with the thicker Royal icing.

    2. Fill in with the thinner icing.

    3. With a chop stick, smooth out the icing to fill in all surfaces of the cookie.

    4. Set aside to dry overnight.

Royal Icing: Beat the ingredients. Add the food coloring. Add the #3 tip to a cake-decorating bag, fill with the thicker icing to outline the cookies. Add a #5 tip to a cake-decorating bag, fill with the thinner royal icing.

 

 

Common And Popular Candies

Common And Popular Candies

After researching and decorating gingerbread houses for 25 years, I have compiled a list of the most common and popular candies which can be used to decorate gingerbread houses.

Common And Popular Candies:

  • Peppermints, a classic Christmas candy, are popular candies for gingerbread houses.Common And Popular Candies
  • Twizzlers® Twist are perfect borders for roofs, cobblestone paths and anything that needs an outline.Twizzlers® Twist
  • Gumdrops add so much color.Gum Drops
  • Spearmint Leaves make great bushes.Spearmint Leaves
  • Frosted Mini Wheats are perfect for snowy roof tops!Frosted Mini Wheats®
  • Fruit Loops are great for roof top decorations too.Kellogg's® Fruit Loops®
  • Haribo® Sour Streamers look great on roof tops! Haribo® Sour Streamers
  • Necco® Candy Wafers, an American candy classic since 1847, are perfect roof toppers and cobblestone paths.Necco® Candy Wafers
  • Nerds® Candy is perfect for cobblestone paths too.Nerds® Candy
  • JUJUBES® make colorful cobblestone paths too.JUJUBES®
  • Tootsie® Rolls are good for logs.Tootsie® Rolls
  • Snyder’s of Hanover, America’s Pretzel Bakery since 1909, Mini Pretzels turned upside down make charming fences.Snyder's of Hanover® Mini Pretzels
  • Haribo® Frogs are cute floating on the lollipop ponds! If you live in Dallas, Texas, Kuby’s carries Haribo® Gummi Frogs!Haribo® Frogs
  • Chocolate Santas, big and small, are a great addition to gingerbread houses.Chocolate Santas
  • Lindt® Chocolate Snowmen are loved by all.Common And Popular Candies
  • Mini Gingerbread Girls add a festive touch! They are available at Cake Carousel.Mini Gingerbread Girls
  • Save the best for last . . . Edible Glitter, available at Cake Carousel in Richardson, Texas, sprinkled on top of gingerbread houses gives a sparkle! Cake Carousel also carries the mini candy wreaths and gingerbread girls. You might give them a call to check availability before heading to their store.Edible Glitter
  • Happy Decorating!!!
Candy Mailboxes For Gingerbread Houses

Candy Mailboxes For Gingerbread Houses

Every gingerbread house needs a candy mailbox!

Six Steps To Make Candy Mailboxes For Gingerbread Houses:

  1. Make one batch of Royal Icing.Royal Icing
  2. Trim the end of a 12″ disposable pastry bag.  Add a Wilton® #5 pastry tip. Fill halfway with Royal icing. *Optional: Tie a rubber band around the end of the pastry bag.Trim the end of a disposable pastry bag.
  3. With a dough cutter or sharp knife, cut a large, 2.25 oz Tootsie Roll® into thirds or use the smaller, thick Tootsie Rolls® for the mailbox tops.Tootsie Roll®
  4. Cut Trident® cinnamon gum into “mailbox flag” shapes. Or Satin Ice® red fondant into “mailbox flag” shapes. Attach the red flags to the mailboxes with a small dot of Royal icing(not show in photo). Set aside to dry for an hour or more.Candy red flags
  5. Apply a dot of royal Icing onto a Peppermint Starlight® mint candy. Place another peppermint on it. Repeat until four peppermints are stacked. *It’s a good idea to stack two peppermints at a time; set aside to dry. Once the icing is dry, stack the four peppermints together. Otherwise, the peppermints will slide as they are drying, creating a leaning mailbox!
  6. Final step, place the top of the mailbox on top of the stacked peppermints. Set aside to dry overnight.Candy Mailboxes For Gingerbread Houses

Candy mailboxes for gingerbread houses are a creative, unique confection for you gingerbread houses!

 

 

How To Build A Gingerbread House

How To Build A Gingerbread House

Everyone is ready for some holiday cheer! How to build a gingerbread house with a store-bought gingerbread house kit.

*Kits are available at most craft stores and grocery stores.

How To Build A Gingerbread House – Most Important Tip!

  • For a sturdy gingerbread house discard the icing in the kit and make the Royal Icing.

Seven Steps For Building:

  1. Make one recipe of Royal Icing. Be sure to beat the Royal Icing until it is very thick. This assures the gingerbread house will be sturdy. Trim 1/2″ off the end of a Wilton® disposable pastry bag. Fill it half way with Royal icing. Set aside.Gingerbread house - royal icing
  2. Arrange the gingerbread house pieces on a 14″ round cake board.Gingerbread house pieces
  3. Pipe the Royal icing onto the cake board(the dimensions of the gingerbread house).  Pipe the Royal icing onto the edges of the front and back pieces of the gingerbread house.Arrange the pieces
  4. Stand the gingerbread house’s back piece and one side piece.back & side pieces
  5. Stand the gingerbread house’s front piece and the other side piece. Set aside to dry for a couple of hours or overnight.add front and other side
  6. Add one gingerbread house roof piece.Add half of roof
  7. Add the other gingerbread house roof piece. Set aside to dry overnight. add other half of roofYour gingerbread house is ready to decorate. Happy decorating!