These Alfajores (Peruvian-Style) are a classic. Silky smooth manjar blanco (dulce de leche) is sandwiched in between two melt-in-your mouth short bread-like cookies. Peruvians roll the edges in powdered sugar.
Let’s make a Cozy Gingerbread House!
Did you ever have a Barbie Dream House? I think I asked for one for my eighth birthday (if I remember correctly) and I imagined myself being a grown-up in it. I had dogs (of course), I had a husband (Ken) whose head I shaved because I thought his blonde hair was ugly (I dunno) and a few kids who were ok. But most importantly, I had a pool with a slide and a trampoline. I also had a siqqq car that was bright pink that I’d use to pick up my friends so we could go to the movies and Disneyland.
When I got the insane idea that I should built a gingerbread house, I started to think: What should it look like? What should it include?
I remembered my Barbie Dream House and decided maybe that should be my inspo? I decided to leave out people because I don’t think I can make realistic versions of gingerbread humans.
Let’s start from the beginning…
What You Need to Build a Gingerbread House!
The first step to making my gingerbread house was planning the dimensions like the architect that I AM NOT.
I started crunching numbers and ended up using old Amazon boxes that were in the recycling for my templates. And XACTO knife comes in real handy in this instance.
Making Dough for a Gingerbread House
Erin McDowell’s recipe is by far the best. I thought about developing my own recipe but I was short on time. And honestly, hers works wonderfully, no surprise there. It’s fragrant, gingery and perfectly spiced with ground ginger and brown sugar, resulting in perfect gingerbread house pieces. I made extra dough to make my life easier and I didn’t regret doing so!
I happened to have shortening in my pantry because of these biscuits and it ended up making life SO much easier. I surprisingly had all of these ingredients in my pantry and just whisked the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, spices) on hand before and then combined it with the shortening–super easy! Her tips, btw, are absolutely brilliant. She over-bakes her gingerbread to make it sturdier. I did the same and I found that really helped, too.
Another great thing with this dough is you can make it ahead of time. Just be sure to wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and store in the fridge or freezer.
If you like, you can roll out the dough between two sheets of parchment, but I had luck just rolling it out with a bit of flour and a rolling pin.
Royal Icing Is Important
Royal icing will act like the glue between the gingerbread house walls. It’ll also act like glue to stand up a corgi, trees, or whatever else. Royal icing is typically egg white and powdered sugar, beaten together until light and fluffy. But I frankly refuse to do it that way and instead opt for meringue powder. You can find it at any craft store like Hobby Lobby or Michael’s. I prefer it over egg whites because it’s much neater and skips a huge step (separating eggs).
You can make royal icing ahead and store it in the fridge in an airtight container. Just be sure to bring it back to room temperature and give it a good stir before adding it to any piping bag.
I decided on an almond-shingled roof. I LOVE the results.
If you’re interested in a true zen experience, glue on a million perfectly slivered almonds for two hours. Truth be told, I actually enjoy these types of things. I mediate and zone out and think about my life. Sometimes I even cry—it’s fun! These roof pieces ended up being total stunners and highly recommend them!
Creating Stain-Glass Windows!
Last minute I felt like I needed to create some dimension and lure to the cozy gingerbread house so I cut out some windows on each side of the house and the front.
I baked the sides of the house FIRST and then filled a few of the windows on the side and in the front with crushed up Jolly Ranchers.
I baked them for maybe around 5 to 6 minutes and the Jolly Ranchers ended up melting in the oven and making the prettiest pink windows.
Making an Edible Pool!
The pool is made from gingerbread dough that I cut out into an oval. I filled it with a piece of foil and crushed blue Jolly Ranchers to replicate the look of frozen water. I added a diving board because that’s what I would want in my own backyard.
Building Amelia’s Dog House!
Amelia’s Dog House is obviously just for show because she wouldn’t think of ever sleeping outside. She prefers to sleep on beds and pillows. But it is cute. I used this gingerbread mini house cookie cutter.
THREE YEARS! That’s insane. Time goes by so quickly. I have to say, I’m so proud of that little book. It’s a little book that could. This recipe for Chewy Chai Masala Snickerdoodles are hands-down been the most-made recipe out of the entire book.
These snickerdoodles are delicious. They’re chewy, perfectly spiced with a combination of black pepper, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon. I love giving these away because they have a bit of staying power. They taste delicious even if they’re not straight from the oven.
Snickerdoodles Should Be Chewy!
The chewiness is heavenly. I attribute the cream cheese to their good texture. It’s truly magical in these.
I want all snickerdoodles to be chewy cookies! Dreamy texture.
I’m going to be honest and tell you that I don’t drink a ton of dairy milk but man, with these cookies, a glass of milk is SO GOOD.
I would like to confess something to you all: I use to be anti-freezer. But it all changed when I started to freeze cookie dough.
I didn’t like the idea of freezing food. I have no idea why. It sounded stale and not “fresh.” I was also a very single person for a long time and really had no need to freeze anything. But I’ve since found my freezer to be a true gift. I freeze all sorts of things: sauces, cakes, muffins, pie crust…and cookie dough!
I always get questions about why I scoop cookie dough so close together. People ask me if I bake them that close together. NO, SILLY! If I did that it’d be one gigantic cookie (not a terrible thing).
I scoop them out because I usually make a double batch of cookies and freeze most of the recipe for later use. It always comes in handy when people come over or we have a party to go to. I can usually reach in my freezer, bake off some cookies and have something to bring.
Here how I freeze cookie dough:
STEP 1: Make the cookie dough. Now this works best with cookie that needs to be scooped out and baked. It can work with, say, shortbread but those are different directions all together.
STEP 2: Per the instructions, I transfer it to the fridge to chill for 1 hour. You can chill it for longer, it just gets tougher to scoop out the colder the dough gets. So I always say an hour is good. This will also depend on your recipe.
STEP 3: Scoop out balls of cookie dough. My favorite cookie scoop is this medium-sized ice cream/cookie scoop from OXO. It’s the perfect size. It measures about 1 1/2 tablespoons. It makes it super easy.
The edges of this cookie scoop are very sharp, so it easily cuts into cold cookie dough.
I place the scoops right onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and I place them super close together, though none of them are touching.
STEP 4: BAKE..OR FREEZE. If I’m baking the cookies, I’ll line another baking sheet with parchment paper and just transfer about 6 cookies to the tray and stick it in the oven. While those cookie are baking, I’ll usually transfer the cookies to the fridge, especially if it’s a hot day.
It makes the baking process much easier because once the cookies are done, I line another baking sheet and keep going. I reuse the parchment and baking sheet, I just allow it to cool a bit before adding the cookies to them.