Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Am I Hardcore?

That’s what erotica writer Jane Black (check out her bittersweet and very hot story of sexual awakening on Clean Sheets this week--it's a good one!) told me when I described this year’s gingerbread house project. What makes this year’s special is a little experiment of mine, inspired by a recipe for stained glass cookies. I decided to melt some butterscotch disks and see if they might make nice windows for a gingerbread abode. And in fact, this leap of creativity paid off nicely. Note the golden glow emanating from the edible edifice—the perfect touch of tingly warmth for the long December nights.

Again I’m reminded of the refreshingly uncomplicated response this kind of creativity inspires. The compliments abound and they seem totally sincere. Maybe that’s because no one else is crazy enough to spend so much time on gingerbread houses? I mean, there are professional pastry chefs who do it for display in hotels or other public places. They’re definitely hardcore, but it’s their full time job and they get paid for it, the dominatrices of the genre. And then there are those kits of pre-baked pieces you glue together with icing and let the kids decorate. It’s a great idea, but, well, a little too soft and wimpy to turn me on.

I won’t lie to you. This little cottage looks simple and charming enough, but it took me hours to draw the pattern, bake the pieces, assemble and decorate. An absurd amount of time, really. There’s no doubt it’s like a short story. You want it to look seamless and self-contained. No sweat, doubts or swear words ever disgraced its conception. But they lurk just the same in the secret history of the smooth, finished piece. If those gingerbread walls could talk!

Anyway, I think Jane has a point, but I certainly wasn’t as hardcore this year as when I spent weeks on “Holiday Inn,” pictured above. That was definitely hardcore. But maybe this year it would be better to call me “mediumcore.” You know, vanilla, but made with fresh vanilla beans and organic cream, topped with homemade hot fudge and fresh, toasted pecans with a glace cherry on top?

What do you think? (Slack-jawed admiration of the magical wonder of my gingerbread house is shamelessly accepted).

A Note for Insane Gingerbread Architects: The windows are an easy trick to tuck in your bag. Just place two butterscotch candies together on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until melted and spreading, then smooth with a spoon, if necessary (it may not be). Lift them from the paper after about a minute with a spatula and cool on a rack. Glue them to the inside of the windows with royal icing and voila!


Anonymous said...

Donna, those are just beautiful! The golden butterscotch windows made me smile, and they must be even prettier in person. I like your analogy to story writing. And I stand by my statement :-)

Donna said...

Thanks, Jane. And thank YOU for a story that has really stayed with me!

The photos don't really capture the magic, nor do they capture a most important element--the spicy, molasses fragrance of the house. A subtle, but effective device to draw the observer into the experience....

Neve Black said...

That's amazing! I'm sorry, but nothing about making that gingerbread house masterpiece looks easy to me.

I'm mystified by this. I'm serious. You melted butterscotch candies to use to color the windows?


Very impressive and yes, very hardcore, indeed. :-)

SusanD said...

Truly awesome, Donna!

Donna said...

Thanks, Susan and Neve. You are acting properly awestruck ;-)

Yes, I melted butterscotch candies and they run together forming a thin, flat window-pane like thing. When you slip a light source in the house, it shines through like a real window.

I have to say, in person, it does look pretty magical. Even my jaded teenager was impressed, lol.

Craig Sorensen said...

DeDe says that you can consider slack jawed admiration given. She thinks it's a beauty.

So do I!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness, how CUTE!!! I love gingerbread houses -- yours this year is so delightful and adorable I just hardly know what to do with myself! Mr. Emerald and I were actually planning to spend a day creating gingerbread houses last weekend, but alas, he was inundated by the flu, so we had to postpone. Thanks for the added inspiration though!! :)

I also love gingerbread, so your description of the aroma surrounding your lovely work of art is enticing to me indeed.

Donna said...

Send a picture, Emerald, please! I'm into gingerbread house voyeurism :-)