Thursday, December 13, 2012

Decorate a Gingerbread House and Tree + More Cookies - Countdown to Christmas - Day 13

Today Sophia and Olivia spent part of the morning decorating a gingerbread house and tree.

Sophia's finished gingerbread house.

Olivia was excited to make the gingerbread cookie tree again this year. This is the tree that she prefers - the ones that have different size cookies that stack upon one another.

Olivia applying frosting to the ends of each of the cookies.
Eenie (the cat) is nearby.

Sophia also was happy that the house was pre-assembled. We've tried the houses that come with parts and you have to "glue" the parts together with frosting. For a child, that can be a frustrating process. With a pre-assembled house, Sophia can focus on the fun part of decorating it.

Sophia using frosting to create a door on the gingerbread house.

This year, the girls were able to work independently on their creations. It's also the first year that Sophia was able to make the frosting for them on her own. Such a change from just a couple of years ago!

Olivia was very happy with her gingerbread tree.

Once Olivia was done with her gingerbread tree, she brought it up to her bedroom where the door is closed (so the dogs and cats can't get in the room). Otherwise, it wouldn't last very long once the dogs would discover it downstairs.

Sophia with some of the house decorated.

Sophia continued to work and spent time patiently adding details with frosting and embellishments with candies until she was happy with her finished gingerbread house.

Sophia's finished gingerbread house.

Now both girls have a special holiday decoration in their rooms to enjoy until Christmas. 

Olivia's finished gingerbread tree.


In the afternoon, we made Peppermint Shortbread Cookies. The recipe is from a friend who I've known for many years. We happened to be visiting her and her daughters one day when she was making these cookies. She shared the recipe and we've been making them at Christmas ever since.

Peppermint Shortbread Cookies.


1 cup softened butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/4 cup cornstarch

1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar
2 tablespoons milk
Peppermint extract
Crushed candy canes or peppermint candy


Mix butter, sugar, and vanilla with an electric mixer. Gradually blend in flour and cornstarch.

Olivia mixing together the shortbread dough.

The mixture will be crumbly, so it is best to squeeze the dough by hand at this point.

Form into 1-inch balls and press down slightly on the cookie sheet. Bake at 300 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the undersides begin to brown.

Cool 5 minutes, drizzle with frosting, and sprinkle with crushed candy.


We also made Dark Chocolate Mint Pretzel Kisses after seeing a pin that led to Cookin Cowgirl. We've never had this type of Hershey's Kisses or the Chocolate Mint M&Ms, and were pleasantly surprised at how they taste.

We made a similar version at Halloween, though that recipe only used the pretzels and chocolates. Both versions - the Halloween one and Christmas one - are a nice combination of sweet and salty flavors.

Dark Chocolate Mint Pretzel Kisses that we made.

The recipe for Dark Chocolate Mint Pretzel Kisses makes 48 treats.


48 Snyder's Snaps square pretzels
48 Hershey's Kisses Special Dark
48 Dark Chocolate Mint M&M's


Preheat oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place pretzel squares on baking sheet and top each one with a Hershey's Kiss.

Place in the oven and bake for 4 minutes. Remove pan from oven and immediately place an M&M on top of each kiss and gently press down. They will be quite soft and the perfect consistency for topping.

Place the pan in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, or until the chocolate hardens back up just a little.


Sophia made Peppermint Bark. We saw the pin on Pinterest which led to Intimate Weddings. Apparently people make peppermint bark for wedding favors. Who knew.

Peppermint Bark that Sophia made.

Anyway...the peppermint bark is easy to make. The only challenge we had was that we don't have a double boiler. So, Sophia melted the almond bark in a fondue pot instead on "warm" so that it would melt, but not cook. It worked out fine.


1 pound white chocolate chunks or chips (we used almond bark)
1/2 cup of crushed candy canes
Few drops of peppermint oil (we used peppermint extract)


Unwrap candy canes, place them in a bag and crush them using a rolling pin. Place white chocolate into double boiler and melt.

Place crushed candy canes into a sifter and let small pieces fall into the melted chocolate. Stir. (Note: we didn't have a sifter, so Sophia just put about 1/4 cup of the crushed candy canes into the mix.)

Sophia sprinkling the candy cane pieces 
onto the melted almond bark.

Pour melted chocolate onto parchment covered baking sheet. Using a spatula, spread the chocolate as evenly as possible and sprinkle the remaining larger chunks of candy cane onto the melted chocolate.

Peppermint Bark before it is divided into smaller sections.

Refrigerate for 45 minutes. Remove from the refrigerator, flip over onto a cutting board, and cut into wedges.


The Handmaden said...

Wow, this all looks awesome! We have made a gingerbread house before but never a tree, my girls would love to do that!

Rita said...

Great decorating jobs by both girls! They always look so cool but I can't stand eating them because the gingerbread gets hard as a rock--LOL! Great cookies, too! You guys have been busy! :)