December 21, 2011
Oooooh yes, I wanted , I really really did… I wanted this post to be about a gingerbread house. I planned one for this year, made the models on paper… bought the decorations. Everything just ready, needed just to execute it.
Here comes the failure part: I could´t make it. I fell sick (again?!?) after Independence day and had a very very bad week with fever every single day. Gosh… am I frustrated? Totally. You CAN´T , MUSTN’T get ill during December! Not before Christmas… not when you have thousands of things to do…
Oh well, now it is gone. So my time spent sleeping and recovering. Blah. I redefined my priorities and reorganized my to-do list for the time remaining.
Result? No gingerbread house this year ;_;
But hey! One of the tasks from the list was to bake gingerbread with my daughters. It was a priority. I love to see them smiling while dealing with the dough and decorating with icing. Seeing them eating the little sprinkles “to taste all the colors” is just priceless… a must do every year on holidays >.<.
They deserve the fun! And I think it made me feel less bad I couldn’t make a gingerbread project this year ^_^.
For a recipe of traditional Finnish gingerbread, you can try the one I posted last year.
This might be my last blog post until after Christmas. We are traveling to my in-laws tomorrow to spend the festive season and I can’t promise I will update the blog while there.
So, Happy Holidays everyone! Stay safe, warm and surrounded by good things :).
See you soon!
April 27, 2011
After a long Easter weekend (Monday was also holiday here in Finland) I am back to the city. “Back to the city”? Ehehe, we stayed some days in the countryside at my girls´ grandparents place. It was very relaxing and nice to see nature changing… Spring is definitely coming to this cold land.
I should have posted this before Easter but I was so busy I couldn’t. I also saved this subject for the #twitterchocolateparty (which happened yesterday) but in the end, I couldn’t make it on time. BAD ME. (#fail)
Anyways… you can use this idea for other occasions, the lollipops are very easy to make if you have all the ingredients on hand.
I made a big batch as a little Easter treat to everyone where we stayed. Since my mother-in-law has gluten intolerance, I made separate lollipops to her, using a different gluten-free cookie.
Chocolate covered sandwich cookies lollipops
adapted from here
yields 8 gluten-free lollipops and 25 normal ones
- 1 can of dulce de leche (I used cooked condensed milk until thick consistency)
- 1 pack of Maria biscuits (Marie biscuits). I used Kulta Marie from Kantolan
- 400 g dark chocolate. I used Fazer dark- 47% (Fazer tumma suklaalevy)
- hundreds and thousands sprinkles
- sugar bunnies and sugar flowers
- lollipop sticks or ice pop sticks
- cellophane bags for wrapping
for the gluten-free lollies I used gluten-free round digestive cookies (Semper)
Prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper, cellophane or foil.
Make sandwiches with two biscuits: spread the dulce de leche filling on one side, place the lollipop stick in the center and top with another biscuit. Proceed the same way with the other biscuits.
I started the process with the gluten-free ones to avoid cross-contamination but you don’t need if you are making one-kind only.
Melt and temper the chocolate. The type of chocolate I used required tempering but if you find it easier, use a confectionery chocolate (which doesn’t require tempering).
Dip each cookie sandwich and allow the excess to drip away. Place on the prepared cookie sheet and decorate with sprinkles if you like. I marked the gluten-free ones with a yellow sugar flower and the rest with a cute sugar bunny face.
Take to the fridge until firm, remove and let it “dry” outside the fridge.
I used cellophane treat bags with an Easter theme to wrap the ready lollipops and tied them with golden ribbon (for the normal ones) and purple ribbon (gluten-free ones)
Easy peasy right? ^__^
Have a great week everyone :).
February 27, 2011
Every last Monday of the month, a group of friends in twitter join a “virtual” party where photos of an agreed dish/ingredient/theme are shared. It is the #twitterfoodparty ^__^.
I had plans for this month´s theme (cookies!) but with all the mess in my kitchen lately + trying to rest as much as possible in the weekend (to recover from flu) made me postpone the baking until better times.
Anyways! Hmm.. digging from my photo archives I present my contribution : Panda butter cookies!
I baked the cookies for my daughter´s 3 yo birthday party. In the same theme, I frosted a cake with a panda face. She ♥ pandas. And I… well, I do too >__<!
The cookies are simple butter cookies, vanilla and dark chocolate flavored. Don’t you think they are cute?
December 22, 2010
Christmas is time for gingerbread cookies. These cookies are very popular during the holidays in Finland and they are very delicious.
I wrote “Finnish” style gingerbread because in my opinion the way it is made differs a bit from other recipes I’ ve seen. Also, they tend to be crisper and spicier … which I enjoy a lot ^_^. I am not sure, but this type of gingerbread can be found in all others Scandinavian countries as well.
Besides making “normal” gingerbread with cookie cutters, the recipe yields enough dough to construct a small gingerbread house. If you really desire to use this dough to make some bigger construction, I suggest you to substitute the butter in the recipe for baking margarine or shortening. And yep, it won´t taste as good as if it would be made with butter, but it will be stronger for your gingerbread project.
Piparkakkutaikina – Gingerbread dough
slightly adapted from here
- 200 g unsalted butter
- 1 dl of dark syrup (molasses). 1dl equals 100ml.
- 2 1 / 2 dl sugar. 1 dl sugar = 85g
- 1 1 / 2 tbsp gingerbread spice mix. (It is Finnish style mixture, about : 2 tsp ginger powder, 1 tsp cloves powder, 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp pomeranssi powder. Pomeranssi is called “bitter orange” in english. If you find it difficult to get it, substitute for grated orange zest or skip it). You could also add 1 tsp cardamon, 1/8 tsp all spice and cracked pepper, but the mentioned above is the most used spice mix.
- 2 eggs
- 1 1 / 2 tsp baking soda
- about 9 dl wheat flour. 1dl flour = 65g
Prepare the dough in advance (at least one day before). It will allow the dough to rest and form a good structure for rolling out. Cut the butter into pieces and place in a large saucepan. Add syrup, sugar and spices. Heat, stirring constantly. Bring to boil (but don’t burn!)
Remove from heat and let the mixture cool until lukewarm temperature. Add eggs and beat well (use a hand mixer if you prefer). It is important that the liquid is cold enough not to “cook” the eggs.
Combine the flour and baking soda in a separate bowl. Sift the dry ingredients over the syrup and egg mixture very slowly. Mix until well combined. The dough will look very soft (and weird! ^_^).
Cover dough with plastic film. Let cool and put in the fridge to rest.
To make the cookies:
Preheat oven 175 °C
Work in batches. Take a small piece of dough at a time (leave the rest in the fridge). Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to 2-3 mm thick.
Cut with cookie cutters.
Place the cookies on a baking tray with the help of a spatula. If you’re baking cookies of different sizes, try to put the same sized ones together.
Bake large pieces for 12-15 minutes and smaller cookies for 5-10 minutes (until slightly browned). They burn very easily, so it is recommendable to keep an eye on your batch.
Remove from oven and let cool on a flat surface.
Decorate the cookies when they are completely cold.
My girls decorated these ones:
In my opinion they are the best! ^_^
My notes about the recipe:
Due to ingredient differences it might be necessary to adjust the amount of flour of the recipe. The dough looks very soft just after making it but as Finnish bakers say “the dough develops a structure when it is left to rest and set”… that is true. Trust me ^_^.
This gingerbread is a very good addition when serving cheese, together with other crackers, nuts, fruits and marmalade. Leave them without icing for this purpose.
This might be my last post before Christmas. Writing in my own blog has been so far a very delightful experience for me. The start was slow and full of doubts but now I feel more confident on keeping this alive.
I want to thank my family and friends that have been always encouraging me, giving me support, leaving so nice comments. Without you readers, I wouldn’t have enough inspiration for anything.
Merry Christmas and hope the New Year comes with all good to you and your loved ones :).
December 15, 2010
Couple of years ago when Pikkusiili was still a baby I went out with the girls to check the Christmas decorations on the streets. Walking here and there downtown in that cold night, we ended up going to a shopping mall nearby. The plaza in front of it had Christmas activites for children and for my surprise, there was a mini amusement park too.
My girls were totally amazed by the train ride and the big carousel! Oh gosh, it was dark and snowing… the sparkling lights and the music attracted them for good. ^_^
Since then, girls have nice memories about the carousel. They really like this ride… the amusement park in Helsinki is open just in Summer (besides some exceptions) so I thought it would be nice to deliver them a piece of that good moment in Christmas too.
I didn’t have cookie cutters for the horses and the pandas so I had to improvise by drawing them myself and cutting one by one on the gingerbread dough with a knife. The elephant is made with an onigiri mold (ahaha, smart right? ^_^)
As I was lazy to buy black food coloring for the icing for the animals, I used pieces of licorice to decorate the pandas and different sprinkles for the rest.
(now, between you and me) That roof was terrible to assemble! :D Where was my head when I decided to make it in “two” levels! … ugh, sometimes I get annoyed with my ideas… Well, anyways, after two days waiting for the icing to set, I managed to build something decent enough not to fall apart XD.
A while ago when I was browsing a Finnish cooking magazine, I stumbled across a margarine brand advertise featuring exactly a gingerbread carousel. I was a bit upset for a moment and went to check their Christmas campaign in the margarine website. After all my work I found out they provide all the patterns for the gingerbread models for people to copy and make them at home…. check here (heavy flash site).
After that… I had doubts if I should carry on with my own project……
I am glad I did ^_^.
Update on 21.12.2010 : This week I managed to go out with the girls and the Carousel was back downtown :)
So here, what inspired us:
And before you mention, I´ve noticed my horses go to wrong direction :/. Eh… I should have been more careful :P.
Check it out, my last year´s Gingerbread House was featured
Thanks ladies! ^_^