Monday, November 24, 2008

Gingerbread Houses and 15th Birthdays

Once again, in keeping with our yearly tradition, we celebrated my middle "Sprout"s birthday with a delightfully messy, sugar-filled annual Gingerbread House-making Birthday party.

Teen girls and lots of sugar. It gets crazier every year.

But every year the girls are older, they can do more of the prep work themselves, clean up more of their own mess, and their creations get prettier and more lavish.

Everyone loves it. I have Moms calling in September asking if we're making houses again this year.

I always have the house "parts" baked and cooled ahead of time, and after many years of doing this, we have it down to a science.

This year, however, I used the gingerbread recipe from Vegan Dad's blog, as I haven't really liked the texture of the other vegan gingerbread recipes I've used.
I'm not much of a recipe follower, which is why you'll rarely see links to other recipes here; there's millions of better recipes than mine, I just stubbornly prefer to muddle through until I've concocted my own creation (or disaster!).

However, with my daughter's time-honored Gingerbread party I didn't want to experiment. And happily, (as you'll see) the gingerbread turned out great.
(Here are some good cut-out-and-assembly instructions, we use slightly smaller measurements since we're making 6 houses...That equals a LOT of dough!

We DO use commercial Royal Icing however, just to "cement" the house parts together. Yes it has egg-whites. But any and all attempts I have made at decent vegan royal icing have ended up in collapsed houses that look somewhat like a Hurricane Katrina re-creation... Not the effect you're going for at a Holiday party!

However, once the houses are assembled and "set", we mix up some fairly decent vegan frosting for the final (and fun, messy, sticky, icky, sugar-coated) step of decorating...
And no, I am sure some of the candy isn't vegan. Bring on the vegan Police.

Here is my approximate icing recipe (and <-- here is what happens when big sisters get bored with Gingerbread houses); play with it according to the humidity in your kitchen and how much liquid your powdered sugar absorbs.
"Almost" Royal Icing

7 Tablespoons water
4 Tablespoon Ener-G egg replacer (don't use another brand)
7 cups of powdered sugar (you can make non-bone-char powdered sugar with beet sugar and cornstarch in a coffee grinder, Whole Foods sells vegan powdered sugar too)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Mix dr ingredients together. Add to water. I don't usually add all the powdered sugar/cream of tarter, just keep mixing it in until the right consistency. It still takes longer to set up than royal icing
And just in case you're thinking this is a worthless post with nothing but frosting, here are the amazing vegan chocolate-chip muffins that big sister Jessika made for everyone for breakfast. (She made the birthday cake too! )
Pretty generous of her since she had to put up with a housefull of "younger" girls all night!
Chocolate-Chip-Banana Muffins
3 very ripe bananas
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
2 cups sifted whole wheat pastry flour (or white, or whatever)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips, chopped to make them a bit smaller, and tossed with a bit of cornstarch so they don't "sink" in the batter

Pre-heat oven to 360 degrees.
In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork till mushy.
Add the oil and sugar and mix together until creamy.
In a separate bowl combine the dry stuff.
Combine with the banana mixture, stirring gently just to combine.
Grease (WELL!) or line a muffin pan, and fill each muffin about 2/3 full with batter. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.
Here's hoping your Holidays are sweet and memorable.


VeggieGirl said...


Bianca said...

What an awesome tradition! I'd like to try a gingerbread-making party later this year. Maybe I'll try Vegan Dad's recipe.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to your daughter! What a fun party idea :o) And how sweet of your oldest to cook for her older sister was never quite so generous for my birthday parties!


trina said...

How is it already that time of year again? I swear you must have another daughter with a gingerbread house tradition whose birthday was...maybe last Tuesday?

Virginia said...

what a sweet idea! and i was not trying to make a pun, either, but i realized i just did!

Catherine said...

What a fun tradition!

aTxVegn said...

Awww, my son and I used to make gingerbread house every Christmas. I know how much fun you all had and all the houses look fantastic!

Happy Birthday to middle sprout!

Tracy said...

OMG, they are soooo pretty! I wish I had thought of doing that back in the daughter's b-day is Dec. 2nd, and now she's turning 15 and only wants boys at her party. (She finds that boys make better buddies and are much less drama.) Anyway, I don't think I could convince a pack of boys to make houses. I might make my own though! Thanks for the inspiration.

River said...

How pretty!! I love gingerbread houses!
Happy belated birthday little sprout!

Jen said...

what a fun time that must have been and great gingerbread houses! that's a housing market that won't collapse.

Summer Fae said...

What fun! My kids were just asking me yesterday if we could make gingerbread houses. I have never done that before. We might just have to try it this year.

Happy 15th birthday to your daughter :)

Paulina said...

Congrats to your daughter! I love the idea of a gingerbread house party - sounds like a lot of fun!

tofufreak said...

WOOHOO!!!!! that sounds like so much fun. hope you don't mind if i steal your idea for my 15th bday party! :)

happy bday to your daughter! :D

Chelsea said...

Wow, I am so impressed with those houses!!!

Carrie™ said...

What a fun tradition to have tied into your daughter's birthday. If other mother's are calling you to see if it's still on, you know it's a hit! Those muffins look amazing. I'll have to try those. Yummy!

Anonymous said...

Super cool! I've never made one but I've been thinking about trying it out this year.

Bethany said...

you are such an awesome mom for hosting this party year after year. what a great tradition. I hope it continues for many many generations. I hope you keep a scrapbook of their creations. Now that would be an incredible heirloom.

Thanks so much for the link to the gingerbread recipe. I was literally taking to Andy today about making a gingerbread house. He has to help me decorate or I won't do it - as I'm sure you know, it's not fun to decorate alone :).