Honestly, I never understood the appeal. So, last year Chris and I purchased one to see if I was really missing out on a magical memory.
It turned out cute, and we 'proudly' displayed it on the table during Christmas dinner, but it wasn't nearly as magical as I thought it would be. Maybe if you make the gingerbread yourself, and the house smells like warm spices while you're assembling, then it's a completely different experience.
My family's version of assembling the gingerbread house, was the night each year we'd make rosettes. Sometimes we'd make them earlier in December for an event or party, but usually they were made on Christmas Eve - so they'd be fresh for Santa.
photo from Scandinavianfood.about.com
The evening would start with the great hunt for the rosette irons. Since they're only used once a year, they're usually pushed back into the far reaches of the lowest cabinet, or the highest shelf of the pantry. My mom has a selection of irons that has grown over the years - stars, trees, snowflakes, traditional rosette flower shapes, and even an elephant and clown which I'm pretty sure we've never actually used.
photo from Amazon.com
Once the irons have been located, then we made the batter (recipe below) and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours until all the bubbles have risen to the top and popped. This makes the rosettes crispier and is worth it - a soggy rosette is gross. I've gone so far as to make the batter the night before.
The downside of rosettes is that you use a LOT of oil. These are deep fried 'cookies' and you'll need 2-3 inches of oil in the bottom of your pan. You'll also want to use a candy thermometer to make sure that you don't overheat your oil and ruin the whole batch. You'll also need a lot of paper towels and plenty of counter space for the cookies to drain on. Once they're dry and cooled, you can sprinkle them with a little powdered sugar, or if you're taking them to an event, wait until right before serving them to add the sugar.
Since we'll be making these on Christmas eve as Santa's cookies, I'll make the batter in the morning, frying the cookies in the afternoon before the candlelight church service, and then put the leftovers in cookie tins for Chris to bring to work. (The cookies are very fragile, so hard sided containers are better for storage instead of air tight ziplock bags.)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp. white sugar
- 1 tsp. favorite flavored extract
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- Canola oil for frying
- Firmly whisk together the eggs, sugar, extract (if using), and milk.
- Sift together the flour and salt.
- Whisk into the liquid until the batter is the texture of heavy cream.
- Refrigerate for at least two hours.
- Heat 2" to 3" of canola oil in a deep fryer or in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat to between 360º and 365º.
- Once the oil has reached heat, submerge the rosette iron into the oil to quickly heat it.
- Pour your batter into a shallow square pan or container.
- Carefully dip the heated rosette iron into the batter so that the batter covers the bottoms and sides or the iron but does not cover the tops.
- Dip the batter-covered rosette iron into the pot, completely submerging it in the oil.
- Allow the rosettes to fry until golden brown, using a knife edge to scrape off any excess batter formed at the top.
- While browning, your rosettes may voluntarily fall off of the iron into the oil. If so, simply fry them on each side for a few seconds until brown, then remove from pan with tongs or a chopstick.
- If your rosettes have stuck to the iron while browning, use the knife to gently pry them away from the iron on to paper towels. Invert and cool.
- After the cookies have cooled, you can either store them in an airtight container or freeze them for later use.
- Immediately before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
- Yields 3-4 dozen Scandinavian rosette cookies
Making rosettes with toddlers:
The batter is very straight forward, and toddlers make great whiskers, so if you'd like to make these with your toddlers and young children, this would be the best step to involve them in. During the actual frying of the rosettes, toddlers should not be in the kitchen. (I'm making mine during nap time). The cookies on the counter are tempting but very hot, and deep frying and toddlers is a horrible combination. Sprinkling the finished cookies with powdered sugar is a fun job for children, and if they're gentle enough, counting out a dozen and carefully placing them in the cookie tins is the perfect job for mommy's helper.
I'll update this post with pictures of my finished rosettes later tonight.