Sweet Home For the Holidays

Temporary insanity. That would be my excuse for such a long silence in middle of the most food-centric time of the year, if I didn’t have one screw loose in the first place. As it is, I have no excuse, other than palate fatigue after sampling a few too many Christmas cookies, and the general exhaustion that follows so many baking marathons. I had such grand plans for the holidays, so many more posts to make, but instead of pushing myself to the brink of collapse to make all those anxiety-provoking deadlines, I gave myself the gift of letting go. Just a few days of silence, a couple extra hours of sleep; small things that make such a huge difference.

Although this month’s Daring Baker challenge almost slipped through my fingers entirely, I summoned up the last of my energy to pull something, anything, together.

The December 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to you by Anna of Very Small Anna and Y of Lemonpi. They chose to challenge Daring Bakers’ everywhere to bake and assemble a gingerbread house from scratch. They chose recipes from Good Housekeeping and from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book as the challenge recipes.

Initially plotting one giant, elaborate Victorian house, complete with sugar windows and a wrap-around porch, just figuring out the basic foundation had me sweating bullets. I’m no architect, and it became abundantly clear that I would need to scale way back. Way, way back, down to the tiniest structure possible.

Much nicer for creating a little scene and giving everyone their own house to enjoy, it was a relief to make a few tiny gingerbread house nuggets instead. Shaping the dough like modeling clay, it was just a matter of making a very long rope, flattening the sides and cutting it into rectangles, then forming long triangles and pressing them on top. Bake until lightly brown, cool, and stick into some snowy white frosting atop of a cupcake. To ensure a pure, glistening white base, I made a marshmallow frosting to crown my cinnamon cupcakes, completing the scene with some chopped walnut stepping stones and a small pinch of coarse white sugar and dragees for sparkle. Plus,a practically microscopic dragee snowman that felt absolutely necessary to complete the scene, adorned with chocolate features.

Not my most extravagant or exciting effort, but just enough to feel a touch of the holiday spirit, even in my state of extreme weariness. Here’s hoping that everyone out there can take it easy now, and have a sweet winter holiday!

67 thoughts on “Sweet Home For the Holidays

  1. LOVE the little houses! And I’m so there with my own baking exhaustion, maybe I will give myself the gift of Not making cinnamon rolls for breakfast and relax my own grand plans a little.

    Merry Christmas Hannah!
    Eco Mama

  2. omg those are the cutest things i’ve ever seen! i have major issues just cutting sugar cookies out without destroying the shape, i have no idea how you managed to pull off these cupcakes! and the itty bitty snowmen, wow! merry xmas!

  3. I almost missed the tiny snowmen! I have a feeling that all the other Daring Bakers out there are kicking themselves for not thinking to do what you so cleverly crafted. Happy winter holiday season!

  4. I can’t possibly express how awesome I find this post and those cupcakes. I’ve allowed myself to let go of many of the plans and expectations I had held for myself. Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy things.

    And OMG, that snowman! TOO cute!

  5. I love things in miniature and it doesn’t get much better than tiny, adorable EDIBLE gingerbread houses! These are so incredibly sweet, I can’t wait to bake a batch for next year’s holiday parties, they will be a huge hit.

  6. What perfect little houses! They’d go so fabulously on any holiday treat. I hope you’re de-cookied a little and can enjoy a break!

  7. These are unbearably cute! What kind of cupcakes did you put them on? I just made the Gingerbread Flax Muffins that are on the PPK blog, and they were really delicious – and would have been totally appropriate for a gingerbread house topping!

  8. “Initially plotting one giant, elaborate Victorian house, complete with sugar windows and a wrap-around porch, just figuring out the basic foundation had me sweating bullets.”

    I DID THE EXACT SAME THING FOR A GINGERBREAD HOUSE CONTEST THIS YEAR! I wound up not having time to finish my entry because (1) I had so much school work to do; and (2) my ambitions exceeded my understanding of math (i.e. I couldn’t figure out how to make the roof). However, the parts that I did finish (complete with sugar windows! because I was going to put a light inside so the house would glow!) turned out quite lovely. Damn ambition…

    HOWEVER, your solution to this challenge was QUITE clever, and I have to give you mad props for that. Just looking at these cupcakes fills me with a sense of cute.

  9. Those cupcakes are so cute! especially that snowman is incredibly adorable. Very creative :)
    Happy holidays, Hannah! I hope you do find some well-deserved time to relax, too :)

  10. That is the cutest little gingerbread house I’ve ever seen! Much nicer than one of those outlandish, oversized houses :) Hope you have a relaxing, happy, happy holiday, Hannah! xo

  11. I have not even finished my very simple one yet, but your tiny house is darling, and if you hadn’t mentioned the snowman, I would have missed him…he is very teeny-tiny and SO cute!!! :)

  12. Those are such adorable little cupcakes. That tiny little snowman is the cutest!
    I know all about those baking marathons that lead to the following day of exhaustion, even more so this year. I got to tell you, letting go is the way to go some times. Next year I have to try to plan everything out better.

  13. Oh my goodness, Hannah! You are such a talented artist! I can’t believe you managed to get such a wonderful scene on such a tiny little cupcake. Really, really lovely…

  14. I love your little gingerbread cute houses Hannah! And you’re right about letting go… No need to stress when there is no need too… :) Hope you had a great christmas!

  15. As much as I love those big, fancy gingerbread houses (after all who doesn’t love a great big house!) These cupcakes take the cake! They are very original and soooooo freakin’ cute! Very thoughtful presentation and I bet they taste superb. I like the idea of the cinnamon cupcake with the bright white marshmallow frosting. Love the itty bitty snowman. Did you see the link for those teeny gingerbread houses perched on the cup of cocoa?
    The miniature thing is so neato!!!

  16. What a wonderful combination of creativity and practicality, Hannah! I’m totally the type of person who would have driven myself insane trying to make some elaborate thing when the point of participating in challenges (at least for me) is to try something different and have some fun. Happy New Year!

  17. I like your version so much better. I find gingerbread houses such a waste of time, energy, and food. No one ever eats them! I would definitely eat one of your cupcakes though. Happy New Year!

  18. I absolutely LOVE those cupcakes!! I think I’m going to have to make them for 2010’s Christmas. They’re so cute, almost too cute to eat. And those snowmen? SO CUTE!
    Fantastic baking and lovely photos.
    All the best for 2010 :)

  19. These are so adorable! I have to admit that I have never ever seen house-topped cupcakes! And I’m a sucker for cute cupcakes. I may have to give it a shot myself. Thanks for the beautiful idea!

  20. I love the simplicity of this. We always used to make Gingerbread houses as kids and as an adult I have always wanted to make one, but never got around to it. Have you ever visited the Dianasaur Dishes blog? She has made some seriously beautiful gingerbread houses. I’ve always dreamed of doing something elaborate and unique, but alas I am no architect either. Sadly, I’m realizing now that had my ex-boyfriend not broken up with me right before Christmas his father would have been a perfect partner in crime for an incredible gingerbread house as he does a lot of wood working and architecture.

  21. Congrats on the Baking Bites contest win! Your cupcakes are amazing! It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas that is so creative yet doesn’t require that you be Martha Stewart to execute it. Great job on the tiny, tiny snowman–he’s just precious!

  22. I’ve always dreamed of doing something elaborate and unique, but alas I am no architect either.HOWEVER, your solution to this challenge was QUITE clever, and I have to give you mad props for that. Just looking at these cupcakes fills me with a sense of cute.

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