Archives for the day Thursday, December 23rd, 2010

History of Gingerbread house

  In the entry titled “Christmas around the world“, I wrote about how Christmas is cerebrated in Japan, and introduced the website where you can see how the Christmas is cerebrated in other part of the world.

 Then in other previous entry titled “Christmas in Australia “, I wrote that in some parts like Australia, December is summer and, they use fake snow and spend December with BBQ.

 I have been to Australia a couple of times, and visited Brisbane,Gold coast, Darwin, and Perth. It is very beautiful country.

 Only thing I did not like was Vegemite. Vegemite is chocolate color paste/spread, and it almost looks like chocolate frosting if you will. Locals in Australia smear the Vegemite onto toast or crackers, and it is made from brewer’s yeast,vegetables,and spices,and it is not sweet spread/paste. Rather salty spread/paste.

 During the stay in Australia, seeing friend’s family enjoying Vegemite on toast every day, one day, I thought it might be tasty sweet spread, and I might like it.So, I tried it with toast but, no, I did not care for. My friend’s family laughed hysterically when I made sour face from unexpected flavor of the spread with toast..

 If you have a chance to visit Australia, visiting Australia around Christmas season might give you different experience from cold white Christmas in the states. 

 Now, as Christmas comes around the corner, I see many people make gingerbread man or gingerbread house as holiday tradition, and it seems that it is popular holiday tradition here in the states.

 In Japan, I have never had ginger bread cookie, and gingerbread house,gingerbread man tradition was new to me, but I think it is a great holiday tradition.

 Recently, I saw a video on Gingerbread house in White House. All the little details of the gingerbread house was amazing. I have never made Gingerbread house, and I tend to bake cookies for Christmas but,maybe next year, I might want to try making the gingerbread house. It looks fun! I would think that if you have kids in the family, they might love making gingerbread house with you and have fun being creative.

 Bellow is the youtube video on Gingerbread house in White House.

Gingerbread White House

 If you are a blog subscriber or reading from facebook,please click here to watch the video

 Have you ever wondered how the popular holiday tradition has started? Or history of Gingerbread house? In this entry, I thought it would be interesting to look into the history of gingerbread house.

 History of spice; Ginger

According to the article written by Angela Ostroff at germantownacademy website, main spice of the gingerbread “Ginger” is originated in India/Malaysia and in 11th century, pilgrims and soldiers brought the spice “ginger” to Europe.

 History of gingerbread

 According to the article written by Angela Ostroff at germantownacademy website, first snack made from ginger was ginger candy in England, and 200 hundred years later, bread crumbs were added to it and it was the first gingerbread look alike.

 Then, it was given to knights and all sorts of shapes meant all sorts of meaning.

 History of Gingerbread man

 According to the article written by Angela Ostroff at germantownacademy website, in 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I gave human shaped gingerbread to guests and it was the first Gingerbread man.

 In 17th century, to the gingerbread, molasses was added and gingerbread without bread crumbs,the one everyone is familiar with was introduced to the public.

 You can read full article written by Angela Ostroff at germantownacademy website here .

 History of Gingerbread house

to Wikipedia , in middle age, 13th century, Medieval monks invented the
soft gingerbread called “Lebkuchen” in Franconia,Germany.

 According to graphicality website, Nurnburg,Germany became the center of  Lebkuchen, and when Grimm brothers collected many German fairy tales, one of which was “Hensel and Gretel”, large piece of “Lebkuchen” was used to build the witch house from fairy tale called “Hensel and Gretel”, and the house was called Lebkuchenhaeusel and Knusperhaeuschen-house to nibbling at.

 The making of “Lebkuchen house” became gingerbread house making tradition in the states.

 To read the full article at graphicality website,please click here .

 To read on Hensel and Gretel at wikipedia, please click here .

 Recently, I remembered I bought a cookbook at German restaurant a couple years ago, and I looked through and found the recipe for Lebkuchen, and I made Lebkuchen; German soft gingerbread a few days ago.

 The Lebkuchen is very different in taste from American gingerbread. Since it has no molasses in it, color is different too.

Lebkuchen;German soft gingerbread.. 

Recently, I read article on White House Gingerbread 2010 on newspaper that the gingerbread White House weigh 350lb, and covered with white chocolate, and Replica of President’s family dog “Bo” the Portuguese Water Dog was made with marzipan and condensed milk.

 If you were not familiar with Marzipan, it is almond paste (made from almond meal or ground almond, sugar and flavoring if applicable), and it is often used as filling of chocolate or decoration for cakes. Germany is famous for Marzipan.

 If you live near World Market store, you can get Marzipan filled chocolate etc there, and some local grocery store carry them too. Bellow is a picture of chocolate covered marzipan. I bought this to use for cookie.

Chocolate covered Marzipan..

** You can see the white thing under the chocolate in the picture above. The white part is Marzipan.

 To read more on Gingerbread, White House gingerbread at Free Lance Star Newspaper website, please click here .

 To see the picture of Replica of White House Gingerbread,”Bo” the Portuguese Water dog at SFgate website,please click here .

 For this year’s Christmas, I made Chocolate chip coffee beans cookies with hazelnuts, and it came out good,so I thought would share the recipe with you. You can adjust the amount of hazelnuts and chocolate chips to your preference. And of course, you can use different kinds of nuts.

Chocolate chip coffee beans cookie with hazelnuts..

<Chocolate chip coffee beans cookie with hazelnuts>

                                             Makes about 35 cookies, approx 2″ diameter

1. Take 1 stick of butter from fridge,place it on counter to soften up

2. Preheat the oven to 375F

3. To a bowl, add 1/4C white sugar, add cut up 1 stick of softened butter and mix well

4. Add 1 Egg, 1/8tsp salt, 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture and mix well

5. To another bowl, pour 1C and 1tbs of unbleached all purpose flour,add 1/2tsp baking soda and mix well

6. To the egg-butter-sugar-vanilla-salt mixture, add flour mixture and stir well

7.  Add 4 oz of Marzipan cut up to small chunks, 3/4C Dark chocolate chips, 1/2C hazelnut, 1/2C chocolate covered coffee beans ground, and mix well

** For chocolate covered coffee beans, measure non ground chocolate covered coffee beans for 1/2C and then, grind them in food processor to the size of small pebbles

** Make sure that the marzipan gets evenly distributed in the dough

8. Add 2tsp Coffee liquor called “Kahula” to the dough, mix well

9. To the cookie sheet,place non stick foil, and drop small dough approx 1.25″ meatball size and then press a bit on top

10. Bake about 10 minutes or till edge gets brown a little

** Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through the baking time

** Leave the cookie sheet on counter about a few minutes to firm up a little, and then move them to cooling rack to cool completely.

** Bake one cookie sheet at a time

** For Chewy Chocolate chip coffee beans cookie with hazelnut, swap the sugar with dark brown sugar.

 High moisture in the dark brown sugar will make the cookie chewy. However, my cookie dough does not have a lot of sugar so, if you follow recipe above and swap the white sugar with brown sugar to make chewy version, you may need more brown sugar in the dough to create higher moisture in the cookie. You can play around and adjust to your preference.

** The recipe above will make a little shortbread like texture.

 What are your holiday tradition for Christmas?

 Do you make gingerbread house?


Dec 23, 2010 | Comments are off | Uncategorized