Guys, it was so, so much fun baking, decorating, assembling, and also filming this gingerbread house (video further down below). You can’t imagine how wonderful this was. Probably because this year is different and so I needed to relax even more than usual. I dare say that I have become a gingerbread expert over the years. You need to know that I always decorate our tree with gingerbread, I also make tiny gingerbread houses you can actually place on your mug every year. I have learned a lot making gingerbread over and over again. And today I am going to share with you how to make this gingerbread house from scratch. You will find a recipe for a sturdy house, lots of helpful hints and tips, a recipe for royal icing and a video showing the entire process. I have traditionally made a gingerbread house for the first of advent for several years. I just love when the entire apartment smells like cinnamon and other spices throughout December. So let’s get started!
Snickerdoodles are America’s answer to German cinnamon stars! I love snickerdoodles and I find it super exciting every time a German tries one and declares it the new favorite cookie. Snickerdoodles are easy to prepare and are similar to how sugar cookies are created. You will need cream of tartar for these beauties to stay soft and puffy. The recipe does not require any chilling.
These German vanilla crescents are prepared with real vanilla to give them maximum flavor. This is a classic Christmas cookie very popular in the German-speaking countries. So we are going to add vanilla not only in the dough, but also in the dusting. They are called vanilla crescents for a reason.
Cookie boxes are my thing! I love shipping cookies to friends and family during the season! I have been doing this for years. And since this year is so special and you may not be able to see everybody you hold dear, how about shipping a cookie box instead? This post will let you know which type and size of box to choose, which cookies are best to ship with lots of recipe suggestions, how you make your cookie box look nice and give it a personal touch and how your cookies make it safe and sound without breaking or going bad. Let’s have a look:
#1 Which box is best to ship cookies?
It may sound counter-intuitive, but I do prefer rectangular boxes, even if round cookie boxes seem so much more common here in Germany. I find rectangular boxes so much better as you can easily create smaller compartments by cutting out some carton (yes, you can use an old cornflakes box) and by placing them inside your cookie box to create smaller compartments. So stacking the cookies becomes much easier as each has its small compartment and is protected even better. You probably could create something similar with a round cookie box, but I am very bad at this. This is not to say that you can’t use round boxes, but as stated, for shipping rectangular boxes are better.
A tin can will work best and can be found in German stores during this time of the year. Once I even bought a cookie box already filled with cookies in a grocery store and replaced those with my own homemade cookies. So you can go with tin, thick carton, or wood. Paper is not thick enough, you may only use it if you want to wrap single cookies in some extra containers.
The size is also tricky, they shouldn’t be too small as you won’t be able to put in any cookies (and they fill up much faster than you think), but also not too large. I would suggest about 17-20cm in diameter and 8-10cm in height for round cookie boxes, these are the ones I liked a lot. For a rectangular box again height should be between 8-10cm, the largest I shipped was 17cm in width and 20cm long.
Have you ever heard of quince paste? Here in Germany it is usually cut into diamond shapes and rolled in additional sugar. It is then served as a sweet during Christmas season, as another cool addition on the cookie plate. Quince paste, however, is not only famous in Germany, it is also served in Spain and Latin America as a dessert with some strong cheese such as cheddar or in some regions in Spain with goat cheese. Usually it is called “dulce de membrillo”, or in combiation with cheese in Uruguay it is also called “postre Martín Fierro”. The same quince paste is accompanied by some savory component: cheese.
Wow, you guys are crazy! And I am crazy! Because I will be flying to my in-laws tomorrow and I am writing this blog post even though I haven’t packed yet. I usually plan my posts long in advance. But not this time. That’s because soooo many of you requested the recipes of the below cookie box. When I showed the picture on Instagram and Facebook, many of you wanted to get ALL the recipes. Figure that. All of them. And since I am far away from being able to link on Instagram, I will link the recipes in this blog post. The below picture shows the cookies with numbers, so you should be able to match them. I tried to number them clockwise, so it is easy to see which one is which. The cookies are as follows:
- Brownie cookies
- German cinnamon stars (gluten free)
- Speculoos prezels (I made them to prezels and dunked them in chocolate)
- Ugly sweater gingerbread
- Baci di dama (hazelnut cookies)
- Nutella chocolate chip cookies
- Chocolate chip cookies with instant pudding
- Spice wreaths (I made mine with marzipan “cranberries), not on my blog
P.S.: If you are making all these cookies, you will probably have a lot of egg whites left over. What to do with leftover egg whites and how to freeze it, you will find here.
And in case you were wondering, I like to bake one cookie per day. I work full-time, so I always made one recipe after work. Once cooled, I immediately froze them and only took them out shortly before shipping. I am not the type who will make like five different cookies in one night. Too stressful, that’s not me. If it is a recipe that requires the dough to chill, I would prepare the dough in the morning, go to work, return, and then cut out the cookies, bake them, etc.
I have shipped a lot of cookies successfully, just be sure to make cookies you can stack and that are sturdy. I feel that the tin/can already protects them well, so what I did was to stack them and cover with some napkins or similar. The cookie box was protected with newspaper. So far the cookies I’ve shipped all made it safe and sound. I even did a cookie box giveaway for the international cookie day. If you have not shipped cookies, give it a try. First ship nationally and see how it goes. I am telling you, it is addictive!
The cookie box you can see is from the German publishing house Grätz (currently seems to only be available on Amazon). I will take this box to my in-laws in Spain. And since I still need to pack, I will leave you to it. As always feel free to ask me anything about baking or if you encounter problems. Alright, have wonderful holidays!
While you are reading these lines, I will be busy packing my suitcase for Christmas. We are going to visit my parents in law in Spain and I will probably be debating which baking utensils to take along for the trip. I am really looking forward to celebrating Christmas with my Colombian family. Colombian Christmas is very different from German Christmas. There is going to be a lot of dancing, a lot of joy, sparkle and food, so much food. I can’t tell you for how long my mother-in-law has been talking about what she is going to make as a special treat for us and what her ideas are for the Christmas menu. In Colombian culture food is extremely important. I am going to suggest to her that we make Uruguayan flan as the Christmas dessert. Why? Because flan needs to be prepared the night before as it has to be chilled. Perfect in my opinion, one thing less to worry about on Christmas. Flan only requires only a few basic ingredients and is prepared in a jiffy, if this is not enough reason, I don’t know what is.
These are the easiest and simplest cinnamon stars! I know, I am posting this recipe pretty late, you probably are all done with your Christmas baking. The reason I am doing this, is because I posted an Instagram story with several tips for making these. You all asked which recipe I was using and why the recipe is not on my blog yet. For that reason I decided to post this traditional German Christmas cookie: cinnamon stars! The recipe is completely gluten-free and only contains a few ingredients. The dough can be a bit finicky, my German bakers know what I am talking about. Below you will find several tips how to make them and for the recipe to turn out great.
It was the end of November, we were living as poor university students at that point in Dresden, in the east of Germany. We had no clue what to do. Everybody around us seemed to be busy decorating the apartment with wood handcraft from the close Ore mountains. Nutcrackers, smoking manikins, “Schwippbögen”, these are usually showing the nativity, were unwrapped and placed throughout the apartment. We simply couldn’t afford German wood handcraft from the region and therefore only had bare walls to show. Our Christmas decorations? Nil, nada, inexistent. What to do if you can barely make ends meet? My solution was simple: gingerbread or German Lebkuchen. Gingerbread is perfect if you want to use it as decoration. Regardless if you wish to use it for a gingerbread house (or even village?), to decorate your Christmas tree with, or to make an advent calendar. Gingerbread was my solution to our Christmas decoration.
These cookies from Uruguay are called yo-yo as they actually look exactly like the toy yo-yo. When I took them to my colleagues as my first batch of test eaters, they got raving reviews. According to a few colleagues, I should bring more often treats from Uruguay if they were as tasty as these cookies. What I like about them is the fact that you can easily mix together the batter fairly quickly. It does contain a small part of cornstarch that makes them extra soft. Obviously it does contain the caramel cream names dulce de leche and is covered in chocolate. This is my sixth recipe in my cookie week.