Gingerbread Houses

With a little bit of pine from the forest, and a chubby, little snow man!

I learnt how to make icing today. Before, I would make icing by mixing icing sugar with some water and a bit of vanilla, and giving it a stir. This liquidy mass would then be poured over a cake, with the creamy white mixture flowing over the cake and gently dripping down its sides.

Today, with recipe in hand; it came with the gingerbread house kit, I found that by whipping the icing sugar, water and vanilla for about ten minutes, I could create a mixture that would form soft peaks and hold together walls of gingerbread.

Perfect for building houses. Perfect for creating icicles. Perfect for constructing snowmen and attaching candy to walls. Candy walls, the likes of such not seen since the building of the cabin Hansel and Gretel stumbled upon on that fateful day they journeyed together into the forest.

Way, way, too much candy!

My daughters’ tradition of building gingerbread houses, together every Christmas, started years ago. While getting together virtually is not quite like everyone being in a same room, today was a whole lot of fun.

Coming in from three province, beautiful houses were created. My husband and son were the site supervisors and consultants. Our beautiful, little granddaughter was the chief sprinkle distributor.

While Hansel and Gretel’s encounter with that candy coated little cabin was not a pleasant ordeal, our gingerbread houses were a delight to build, and decorate, and with be even more fun to take apart!!!!!

Gingerbread houses, and the tradition continues!!!!!

Chocolate Letters, a Dutch Tradition

Chocolate Letters!

I remember when, as a child, Sinterklaas would drop by every year on December 5th. In the weeks prior to this date, we would excitedly watch the windows for Peek-a-boo. Peek-a-poo, the mysterious little elf who spied on us children, deciding who was naughty and who was nice. I’m thinking that maybe our little Peek-a-boo was the precursor to today’s Elf on the Shelf.

Somewhere along the line, our December 5th tradition ended and Santa Claus began showing up at our home on Christmas Day.

Earlier this fall, my daughter found an article about another Dutch tradition; the Chocolate Letter. The Chocolate Letter, available in dark, milk, and white chocolate.

I remember Sinterklaas leaving unwrapped gifts. A small pile for each child, topped with a bowl of candies containing the name of the child. Later, the slip of paper was replaced with a Chocolate Letter.

Still Life with Letter Pastries –¬† Peter Binoit.

According to history, receiving letters at Christmas dates back centuries with the original letters being made of pastry. Before gift wrap, parents would cover the gifts with a sheet marking each child’s spot with a pastry in the shape of their initial.

In the beginning of the 20th century, the Dutch chocolate industry began to make letters in chocolate.

During World War 11, supply shortages meant no chocolate and for a period of time the letters were made of gingerbread.

My first attempt at making Almond Pastry Letters.
Gingerbread Letters.

I’m thinking it’s time to reintroduce some of these Dutch traditions back into ours lives. While the Chocolate Letter has always been a part of our Christmas tradition, I think that next year, on December 5th, I’ll be delivering¬† Almond Pastry Letters to some special people.

Chocolate Letters, in dark, milk and white chocolate.