Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Gingerbread House without Molasses

Gingerbread House without molasses

Hello you! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas. Even if you couldn't celebrate it like you normally do. I definitely had a slower Christmas than usual. We stayed in mostly. I cooked a vegetarian dinner for two, and we walked with our dog a lot. A few days before Christmas, I made a gingerbread house for the very first time. Not to eat it. But to have it as a decor centerpiece on the kitchen table.

I've never made a gingerbread house before. Assembling it was more difficult than I imagined because fitting the pieces, after they are baked and not 100% straight anymore, was challenging. I smacked royal icing on it to glue it all together, and the royal icing looks like snow. I used a gingerbread house template that I bought online. I didn't realise that it was a XXL-size mould. So I cut it into a smaller mould. I kept the rest of the gingerbread pretty basic. I'm new to decorating a gingerbread house. Hopefully next year I'll plan a little bit more time to decorate it.

Since I live in the Netherlands, and molasses is not a thing here, I searched for an online recipe that substituted the molasses. Which was very difficult to find. I ended up with making my own substitute that I've made before, which is 50% honey and 50% dark brown sugar. Once baked, the honey does not have an overpowering taste to it, and it really resembles molasses!


Adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction. She shares great tips and videos!


  • 3 cups (375gall-purpose flour spoon & leveled
  • 1/4 teaspoon teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (85gunsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar 
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) honey
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • royal icing as the "glue"
  • assorted candies 


  1. Make the cookie dough: Whisk the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and salt together in a large bowl. Set aside.

  2. In a large bowl using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, honey, and water on high speed. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine. On low speed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until combined. Cookie dough will be very thick.
  3. Divide cookie dough in half, flatten into discs (about 4-5 inches in diameter), and wrap each tightly in plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours or up to 3 days.

  4. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.

  5. Cut into shapes: Remove each disc from the refrigerator and roll each out in between two pieces of parchment paper. Gingerbread cookie dough will stick to your counter no matter how much you flour it. Parchment is best. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thick. You want thick pieces for your gingerbread house. Lightly flour the underside of gingerbread house template shapes. (The dough is sticky and the paper may stick to it otherwise.) Using a pizza cutter or small knife, carefully cut the dough into the gingerbread house template shapes. You will need TWO of each shape. Re-roll dough scraps so you have enough dough for the whole house. Use any extra dough to create fun shapes using cookie cutters. 

  6. Carefully arrange gingerbread house shapes onto prepared baking sheets, about 3 inches apart. If they lost some of their shape transferring to the baking sheet, straighten out the edges.

  7. Bake house pieces for about 18-20 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove from the oven and allow shapes to cool completely on the baking sheets or on the counter. A flat surface is KEY for cooling– the gingerbread house edges very slightly curl up otherwise. Cooled gingerbread house pieces can be made up to 1 week in advance, cover tightly and store at room temperature or in the refrigerator. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months, thaw at room temperature before using.
  1. Construct the base of the house: Select a base for your gingerbread house. I used a marble cheese board. Start with two pieces: the front of the house and 1 side. Using a squeezing bottle or a piping bag, run a thick line of royal icing on one long edge and one short edge of the side of the house piece. Stick it to your base. Use whatever you have around the house to help it stand up. You can also prop it up with soda cans, a tall cup, water bottle, etc. Run a line of royal icing along the bottom of the front of the house piece. Stick it to your base, adhering it to the side of the house piece. Hold the two in place for a few minutes until the icing is partially set, propping them up as necessary. Repeat with the 2nd side of the house piece and back of the house piece. Pipe royal icing inside any seams, inside and outside of the house, to fill any voids. Don’t be afraid to go heavy on the royal icing “glue” — when it dries, it looks like snow! Allow it to set at room temperature for at least 1 hour before adding the roof pieces.

  2. Add the roof: The roof pieces will be placed on top of the house base. Run a thick line of royal icing on the inside edges of one of the roof pieces and adhere it to the base. Hold in place for a few minutes. Repeat with 2nd roof piece. Run a thick line of royal icing where the two roof pieces meet at the top of the house. Hold in place for a few minutes.

  1. House must set: Before decorating, the icing on the entire house must completely set. Allow the entire house to set at room temperature for at least 3 hours, preferably 4-6 hours or even overnight before decorating. Cover and store leftover royal icing at room temperature or in the refrigerator during this time. It will be the glue for adhering candies to the house.

Recipe for Royal Icing


  • 4 cups (480gconfectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 3 Tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
  • 910 Tablespoons room temperature water


  1. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat all of the icing ingredients together on high speed for 1.5 – 2 minutes. When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 5-10 seconds. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. (On particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons water total.) If it’s too thin, add a little more sifted confectioners’ sugar.

  2. Icing completely dries in about 2 hours at room temperature. If you’re layering royal icing onto cookies for specific designs and need it to set quickly, place cookies in the refrigerator to help speed it up. 

Gingerbread House without molasses

These are the last few days of this dreadful year. I want to wish you all a very happy, healthy, normal New Year! See you in 2021!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Christmas Peppermint Cupcakes

Christmas Peppermint Cupcakes

As long as I have been writing this blog, I don't think I've ever made something with peppermint extract. Peppermint is either love it or hate it kind of flavour. I love peppermint tea. But I dislike mint chip ice cream. It can be an overpowering flavour, but it can also be a wonderful complimentary flavour to something. 

I baked Magnolia Bakery's vanilla cupcakes with a peppermint buttercream frosting. I had intended to make these candy cane cupcakes with bright red and icy white frosting, but I think I added too much butter to the buttercream frosting and the white frosting was a clear butter color. I decided to add green and red food coloring and just make festive, over-the-top decorated cupcakes. Complete with a sparkling star and all.

I must say this recipe is my most favorite vanilla cupcake recipe. I tried Georgetown DC's vanilla cupcake recipe, but it was too dense. These are light, airy, yet flavourful. I actually used swirled red vanilla cupcake batter in as well to give it a 'candy cane'-feeling.

Christmas Peppermint Cupcakes


Vanilla Cupcakes: recipe from 'The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook'

Ingredients: makes 24 cupcakes, but you can halve if you want to
- 1 ½ cup self-rising flour
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar (I always use less sugar with this recipe, as I find them too sweet otherwise)
- 4 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
- In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually to the butter and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk mixed together with the vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about three-quarters full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cupcake comes out clean.
- Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting: Magnolia Bakery - More From Magnolia

Ingredients: for one 2-layer 9-inch cake, or 24 cupcakes
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (for this recipe I substituted this with peppermint extract)

- Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of the sugar and then the milk and vanilla. On the medium speed of an electric mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.
- Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency. You may not need to add all of the sugar.
- If desired, add a few drops of food coloring and mix thoroughly. (Use and store the icing at room temperature because icing will set if chilled.) Icing can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Christmas Peppermint Cupcakes

Have you been baking Christmas recipes already? 
Let me know what kind of recipes you guys are trying out!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Golden Milk - Tumeric Latte

Golden Milk

I'd be lying if I said that 2020's circumstances hadn't made me think more about living healthy. Since the pandemic, I've been exercising more, building up my stamina, ordering more supplements online, and definitely eating more healthy. As I'm sure you have as well.

I think I eat healthy on a regular basis, despite the content produced for this blog 😆. I'm vegetarian, I try to eat two of my three meals a day vegan, I take B12 and magnesium daily, I eat two pieces of fruit almost every day, I never drink a sugary drink. If I compare this to my American relatives, I'm a health-nut. If I compare it to my Dutch family, I'm mediocre on the health-scale.

I'm always one to try out a newly popular health rage. Tumeric, or kurkuma, has been making waves on the health-circuit for a while now. I usually drink tumeric in a tea form. Sometimes I add it when cooking dinner. With a pinck of black pepper because this helps your body absorb the tumeric better. In fact, it increases absorbtion with 2000%!

I don't drink coffee. Yes, let that sink in for a while. I've tried and tried it, but yuck! So I love drinking chai latte, and this recipe is similar to that. I've made this recipe many times and gradually formed my own favorite recipe on it. So here it is with my notes.



- 1 cup plant-based milk (I prefer unsweetened almond milk)

- 1 heaping teaspoon ground tumeric

- a pinch of freshly ground black pepper (this helps your body absorb the tumeric by 2000%)

- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

- 1 tablespoon maply syrup (honey will do as well)


Combine all ingredients in a pan and put on medium heat. It is very important not to boil this. Keep it at medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wisk. I find a wisk blends the cinnamon the best. Heat for a minimum of 5 minutes. The longer you heat it, the more intense the flavor will be. When ready, strain the tumeric drink through a fine mesh strainer to remove any large lumps of spices. Enjoy!

Ground tumeric has a really intense coloring so make sure to properly clean everything afterwards.

Golden Milk

What about you? Have you been living more health-conscious this year?

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

DrĂžmmekage - Danish Dream Cake

DrĂžmmekage - Danish Dream Cake

 Happy November!

Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about a recipe you made a while ago and wish you had the time to make it again? Well I do all the time. Lately, the same Danish recipe kept popping up into my head that I discovered years ago while attending a congress in Denmark. I, of course, followed a Danish baking class while I was there and we learnt to make this dreamy Danish cake... a drĂžmmekage. The literal translation for "dreamcake".

It's a dense, basic vanilla cake topped with a sweet coconut / brown sugar topping. The combination of the two is so fabulous. Even if you're not a coconut-lover like I was for years, you'll probably like this cake. The coconut isn't a overwhelming taste, just a sweet addition to the cake. I might be a bit biased because lately I've turned into a coconut-lover! Just add some coconut flavor to, well, anything please?!

Normally I bake this cake in a sheet pan. I thought it would look prettier in a round cake form, but you need to double the baking time. Also I must admit I prefer the cake/topping ratio better in a sheet pan. So while it looks tastier as a round cake, a sheet pan is probably the best baking tool for this cake. Enjoy!

DrĂžmmekage - Danish Dream Cake



Ingredients for Cake:
- 2 ¼ cup (250g) all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ cup (50g) unsalted butter, softened
- 7 oz. (200ml) milk
- 4 eggs
- 1 ⅓ cups (300g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Topping:
- ½ cup (125g) unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup (50ml) milk
- 1 ⅓ cups (100g) dessicated coconut
- 1 to 1 ¼ cups (200-250g) light brown sugar

- For the Topping: In a mixing bowl, combine all topping ingredients. Set aside until ready to spread over cake.
- For the Cake: Preheat oven to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F. Grease an 8 or 9-inch (20-22cm) square or round baking pan. If desired, line baking pan with parchment paper, then grease paper.
- Sift the flour with the baking powder. Melt the 50g butter and mix with the 200ml milk. Beat the eggs with the sugar and vanilla extract until light and fluffy, then fold in the flour mixture. Lastly, fold in the butter and milk mixture.
- Pour into prepared baking pan and bake in preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted into center of cake comes out clean (leave oven on and set to 225 degrees C/425 degrees F). Remove cake from oven and immediately spread the topping over cake and bake cake for an additional 5-10 minutes at 225 degrees C/425 degrees F. Cool cake completely on wire cooling rack before serving. Cut cake into squares (or wedges, if baking cake in a round pan).

DrĂžmmekage - Danish Dream Cake

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Halloween Sugar Cookies

Trick or Treat!

I can't really explain why I have such a fascination for Halloween since I live in The Netherlands and it's not a holiday here. It's my favorite American holiday and I never celebrated it as a child. I grew up watching Hocus Pocus and it made me fall in love with Halloween. So every year, I bake Halloween-themed treats and celebrate it by myself watching Hocus Pocus.

Halloween Sugar Cookies

This is my first time making/using royal icing after 10+ years of baking. Can you believe that? I've been wanting to make it for years because it looks so pretty. When I started this blog, it was impossible for me to find meringue powder here in The Netherlands. Now, baking is so much more common here. And the big upside of that is that I can get baking ingredients very easily. I used order everything online from American websites. Or I would literally wait until I went to the States on vacation and stock up everything there. 

Halloween Sugar Cookies

I went on my honeymoon to Italy this September and we made a stop at Carrara, which is where the white marble comes from. I bought a Carrara marble rolling pin there in a gift shop, which I had been hunting for, for years. This was my first time using my new rolling pin. I love it! The heavy marble really weighed down the dough, which made it easier to work the dough.

Halloween Sugar Cookies


I got the recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction for both the sugar cookies and royal icing. Link here.

Let me know if you try (or tried) this recipe!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Kourtney Kardashian's Avocado Pudding

Kourtney Kardashian's Avocado Pudding

After almost a year of hiatus, I wanted to share a simple recipe that I've been making so much lately. Avocado pudding. The recipe is from Kourtney Kardashian's lifestyle website Poosh.

Yes, I watch the Kardashians.

Anyway, this recipe is so delicious! Kourtney Kardashian says "you either love it, or hate it". Since I'm not the biggest avocado-lover, I expected to hate it. But it is sooo good!

You can make variantions with the plant-based milk. I've tried almond, rice, coconut-milk. But unsweetened almond milk is my favorite with this recipe because almonds have a natural sweetness that really goes well with avocado.

It's super delicious and super healthy. Did you know one avocado has 3 times more potassium than a banana? Avocados are a superfood! They are brimming with essential nutrients. Which is why I'm so glad I came across this recipe because I don't eat them enough otherwise.

Try the recipe and let me know what you think!


Avocado Pudding: Poosh

- 1 avocado
- 1 cup of coconut milk, or other plant-based milk
- 2 tablespoons of honey

Peel and pit the avocado. Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.

Kourtney Kardashian's Avocado Pudding

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

How Has Your Year Been?

 Dear readers,

I know, I know. I haven't written in a while.

Let me explain why, with where I last left off: the first 2,5 months of this year I was crazy busy, next to my full-time job, planning our wedding. You can imagine that takes some time.

Mid-way March, the corona-virus was getting closer and closer to home (the Netherlands). It had already spread to Europe, and Italy was in complete lock-down. At the time I thought we were lucky it did not reach us. But it did...

As it reached you.

Three weeks before our wedding (our wedding was planned on April 11th), we made the heartbreaking decision to postpone our wedding because my American relatives couldn't travel from the U.S. to the Netherlands. At that time, they were still allowed to travel, but my dad is an emergency room doctor in New York and couldn't possibly leave as the virus had reached NY in full swing.

One week after postponing the wedding and informing all of our guests, the Netherlands went in complete lockdown. Thankfully, we both have jobs where we can't work from home, so for us the coming few months seemed somewhat normal.

We postponed our wedding to September, thinking (back in March), that was more than enough time for everything to turn back to normal and give us some time to start planning again. Also, we love the month September because we got engaged on September 5th.

Who would have thought this would drag on still today? (obviously people who study infectious diseases)

I hope you all are well. That you are safe, healthy, with an income, and that your loved ones are still well. Things we took for granted a year ago.

As for me, of course I have endured the effects of the pandemic with friends, family members, and co-workers falling ill. But I am well.

And we did get married.

On September 5th 2020, exactly 2 years after our engagement, we said "I do" in Maastricht.

Unfortunately, a lot of our family and friends weren't able to make it. My dad can't travel from the U.S.. Nor my brothers who live there. But we had a lovely day. An intimate, small ceremony and a dinner afterwards. We are looking to celebrate it again once all of this is over.

Wedding Opreij

The last few weeks, my hands have been itching to start blogging again. I have missed it immensely. The baking, the writing, connecting with people all over the world online. I wish I had more time to do it. But I will start again, slowly. Fall is such a wonderful season to bake.

So stay tuned for the upcoming recipes and news!

Much love,


Wednesday, December 18, 2019

The Best Christmas Dessert Recipes!

Hi there jolly folks,

It's that time of year again for the best Christmas dessert/cookie recipes!

Have a very merry, happy, & cosy Christmas everybody!

Enjoy my favorite Christmas recipes:


Santa's Brownies

Cream Puff Cake


Baci di Ricotta


Colored Christmas Spice Cookies

Red Velvet Christmas Cupcakes

Christmas Peppermint Mocha Fudge

Chocolate Marshmallow Surprise Cookies

Chocolate Marshmallow Surprise Cookies

Swirled Chocolate Chip Cookies

Mickey Mouse Cookies

Almond Crescent Cookies

Pepernoten and Advocaat Liqueur


Chocolate - Rum Christmas Cupcakes


Snowflake & Candy Cane Cupcakes


Chocolate Christmas Cookies by Nigella Lawson


Home-Made Christmas Gift

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Ultimate Ginger Cookies

Santa's Trash Cookies

Santa's Trash Cookies