CHRISTMAS TIPS: FAKE GINGERBREAD MEN

Hello to you all! Ready to welcome the New Year? We’ll spent the New Years’ Eve eating at a friend house, all together. Today I wanna share with you the last recipe of the year! I would have posted it before, for Christmas, but I hadn’t time enough. As you can see, I tried to prepare some kind of “gingerbread men” – only for the shape, after all. –

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Basically, you must know that in Italy gingerbread isn’t so wide-spreaded like in America or other countries. For us, also the gingerbread men shape is something “imported”. We have a bunch of different type of cookies, but one of the most used dough for them is the so-called “pasta frolla”(shortcrust pastry).
This year I made the gingerbread men made by cocoa shortcrust pastry instead of gingerbread. I was in doubt for the result, but as you can see they are really pretty. I made decorations with white&red sugar paste, instead of using royal icing.
Here the recipe:

INGREDIENTS: (10-12 cookies)

– Flour 00: 300 gr
– Cocoa powder: 30 gr
– Butter: 150 g
– Powdered sugar: 130 gr
– Eggs (yolk): 3

PREPARATION:

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To make the shortcrust pastry, first of all sift the flour, the cocoa powder and the powdered sugar. Put all the ingredients in the mixer, together with the cold butter, chopped in cubes. Blend everything till you’ll obtain a sandy-like and floury mixture, then transfer it on a floury pastry board.
Make a well in the centre of the flour (in many blog i’ve read ” make a volcano with the flour” , or “make a whole in the center if the flour”: it’s the same, in Italy we say “fare una fontana”), then pour in the center the 3 egg yolks, and knead powerfully till you’ll have a compact and elastic dough.

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Shape a block and wrap it into the plastic wrap, then put it in the fridge for 30 minutes before using it; pasta frolla is a simple preparation really good both for cookies and tarts. If you notice that the dough is a bit too dry, you could add a spoon of egg white, or better a spoon of milk/water.

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Use the gingerbread man mold to shape the cookies and put them on a baking tray. Cook them for maximum 10 minutes at 180 °C. Let them cool down before starting the decoration. I used sugar paste to make the eyes and the mouths, and the remaining butter cream of the cupcakes to make some buttons. I gifted the cookies to my relatives wrapped in transparent pastry bags.

That’s all! I wish you a wonderful Happy New Year 2015! And Happy Fiesta Friday to my talented blog-friends!Cris

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THE FRIDAY NIGHT RECIPE: CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Hello, good morning to all of you! I hope that you spent beautiful Christmas days! I’m late for Fiesta Friday this week, but I thought first to stay with my family and take a little break. Today I would like to share with you the recipe of the cuppies I made on Christmas’ Eve day. Hope you’ll enjoy it!

INGREDIENTS: (12 cupcakes)

– Flour 00: 120 gr
– Granulated Sugar: 120 gr
– Butter (room-temperature): 120 gr
– 2 Eggs (medium)
– Dark chocolate: 80 gr
– Baking powder: 1 teaspoon (4 gr)
– Cocoa powder: 20 gr

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PREPARATION:

To prepare the cupcakes, you start with melting in a bowl all the ingredients “in powder”: sift out the flour, then the cocoa powder, finally the baking powder.
Make the chocolate liquefy at bain-marie, and hold it by. In the meanwhile, whip the butter (already at room-temperature) together with the sugar – help yourself with an electric mixer – and after add the eggs, one after another. Continue whipping till you obtain a spumy and fixed mixture.
When you’re done with the butter and the sugar, you add to the mixture the dark chocolate. Mix a bit before adding the flour, the cocoa powder and the baking powder. The powders have to be added little by little with a spatula, making circular mouvements from the bottom to the top.
When the cupcakes mixture seems homogeneous – during this step you could add also other ingredients like chocolate chips, or chopped hazelnuts – transfer it in a sac-à-poche.
Lay down the cupcakes’ wraps into the muffins’ mold and fill them for 3/4 in height. Cook the cupcakes in the oven for 15- 20 minutes at 180 °C, watching the cooking with a toothpick. When the cupcakes are ready, let them cool down before starting with the decoration.

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DECORATING THE CUPCAKES: THE BUTTER CREAM

INGREDIENTS:

– Butter: 125 gr
– Powdered sugar: 250 gr
– one (or two) spoon of milk
– vanilla flavouring

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PREPARATION:

Chop the cold butter in cubes and put it in the mixer; work it at the maximum speed for 30-40 seconds; after that, you could start adding the powdered sugar, a little at a time: I added every time two spoons of sugar, always mixing at the maximum speed, often opening the mixer to remove the sugar stuck on the borders.
When you finish the sugar, you could finally add the milk and the vanilla flavour: mix again the last time for 30 seconds. Let the cream cool down in the fridge for a while, then use a baking syringe to decorate the cupcakes. If you wish, add also some decorations with coloured sugar paste.

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MAKING CHRISTMAS CARDS

Hello to you all! How are you spending these last days before Christmas? Also this year is time to do home-made Christmas cards! Yippiee! For this year I drawn a simple card in red and white, I took the idea from here: I would like to show you the several steps of the making. First of all, I draw some Christmas decoration to apply on the card: Christmas socks, ribbons, holly, and so on.Then, I prepared a Christmas wreath, drawing some branches to cut to build the garland.

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You make a green circle – diameter 3/3,5 cm – and you cut the inside roundly. Then, you’ll arrange the branches around the circle, counterclockwise. The branches have to be arranged roundly around the ring, you could fix them with glue (or with staples, if you prefer).

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In the meanwhile, you’ll prepare the windows from a white cardboard: draw two windows and then with the paper cutter you’ll remove the sections in excess. Paint them with tempera to hide the inperfections. To imagine the glass, you can use tissue paper on the back. When you have assembled the windows, you could hang the garland on the top of one of them.

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Now we can finally assemble the greetings card: pick an A4 red cardboard, and fold it in half. Paste a white cardboard inside: here you could write your Christmas thoughts.

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The final step is to paste with glue the details you draw previously: I draw also a black&white cat (our Robin!she’s with us from exactly one year!) to wish my darling a very Merry Christmas!

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I would like to know also your favourite tips for Christmas: in the meanwhile, i send you all my Christmas greetings: I hope your Christmas will be joyfull and bright. Cris

CHRISTMAS IDEAS&STUFF

Hello folks! I’ve been really busy with work in the past weeks, and I had no time to update the blog. Hoping that from now on I may think seriously about Christmas!I was searching some ideas for gifts and sweets to make, and yesterday at home I was peeking on the magazines and on Pinterest, of course: i found some recipes and some cute ideas to share with you in the following posts. Me too I will use some of them while preparing our Christmas. I’m just excited, i’ve started the countdown!

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I was searching for some cute free gift tags to print: I cannot choose yet, there are so many type!Although, these posted above are actually between my favourite.

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Also the preparation and the presentation of a gift is important: I love to make packages for the people I love!I wish also to have the time to prepare some homemade cards like these – I don’t like to buy them last minute, they’re so … stereotypical! The one with the tree made by branches is just lovely!

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Regarding the sweets and the cooking: after lot of indecision, this year I’ll prepare the gingerbread men, modifying a little the recipe .. you’ll see the difference step by step with the recipe I’ll post for Christmas’ Eve!

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Finally, the Christmas cupcakes: I was thinking at chocolate cupcakes with a simple decoration with buttercream and sugarpaste snowflakes… quite like this one, what do you think?

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I wish you all happy Christmas “preparation days” like mine!Looking forward to read your Christmas posts on your blogs!Cris