Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Sad, Sad Day in Gingerbread Land

Our vegan friend Lake challenged my cooking buddy & me to come up with the Ultimate Gingerbread House. So in addition to qualifying for our Iron Chef-style cooking blog's Holiday HoHo Challenge, this entry also satisfies Lake's Ultimate Gingerbread Challenge. However, we one-upped him and made the Ultimate Gingerbread Diorama instead. I'm pretty sure it's not low calorie, but hey, it's vegan, and we didn't eat most of it. And it was a hit at our dinner party this past weekend!

We followed this recipe pretty much to the letter. The gingerbread recipe was really good! It worked really well for everything we did. It was structurally sound, but easy to cut, and tasted really good.

We used these cookie cutters to make our men:

And because we were too lazy to build a house, we used a loaf pan to make an nondescript building:

The icing, on the other hand, didn't work out as well as the gingerbread. It was a bit melty-looking which made everything look pretty sad. In the end, our it made our whole gingerbread diorama even funnier, but it was really hard to control what we wanted it to look like. For example, our snowman wasn't supposed to be melted, but that's just how he ended up :(

I'd still call our project a success. Since our diorama was supposed to be humorous, it wasn't all that bad that the icing was melty. Lake ended up making his own (more traditional) gingerbread house for the party with a better frosting recipe, so if anyone's interested, I could try to snag that from him and post it (unless it's a super-top secret concoction. Or he doesn't remember what he did).

The gingerbread recipe comes from the Vegan Lunchbox blog.
- 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine, at room temperature
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup sweet unsulphured molasses
- ¾ cup water
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ¾ tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. cloves
- ½ tsp. allspice

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle hook attachment, or in a large mixing bowl with a hand mixer, cream together the margarine, brown sugar, molasses, and ½ cup of water.
2. In another bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and allspice. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, adding just enough of the water to incorporate all the flour and form a dough that holds together well.

3. Turn the dough out of the bowl and form into four equal balls. Wrap each ball well with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

4. Preheat the oven to 350ยบ. Line some baking sheets with parchment and spray with nonstick spray. Set aside.
5. Working with one ball at a time, roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin. Roll the dough about ¼-inch thick and cut into desired shapes.

6. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the surface is firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

The icing comes from http://www.goodbaker.com/.
- 1 lb. confectioners' sugar
- 1/4 cup powdered soy milk
- 6 tbsp soy milk
- 6 tbsp light corn syrup

In a mixing bowl, mix the sugar and soy milk powder, then add most, but not all, of the soy milk. Add corn syrup just until combined. Add remaining soy milk if the icing consistency is not smooth enough, but be careful not to add so much that it will be too runny or fail to harden.

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