seven things i learned about the white house!
1. it is way smaller than i thought it would be. i envisioned a huge building with millions of hallways to get lost in and a state dining room the size of alaska, but that’s not the case! it’s like polly pocket. with a kitchen that is only about twice the size of mine (but then again they do have a separate pastry kitchen and meat room…).
2. they make 25,000 cookies every holiday season and some of their most popular ones are in the shape of bo and sunny, the white house pups.
3. bo walked by. eggboy saw him. i did not. i was too busy giggling and cookie decorating with joy and ashley, and eggboy didn’t get the memo that you’re supposed to tell everyone else in the room when a white house pup walks by. eggboy is fired.***
4. the walls of the white house gingerbread house get baked for eight hours at a very low temperature. this helps them get super duper sturdy and allows them to remain completely flat and not curvy. otherwise the humidity could make them warp.
5. susie, the white house pastry chef, has been there for 21 years and is a wizard of sugar! the bottom of the white house gingerbread houses are reinforced with a layer of melty sugar that hardens and looks like glass. and all of the trees around the house are also made of sugar. no green frosted ice cream cones in sight.
6. The security men in the little security house that you have to go through to get onto the grounds burn sugar cookie scented candles. idk if this is the norm but when we walked in all of the lights were off and it smelled of cookies and the big beefy security men who were ushering us through the metal detectors seemed to really appreciate it when we complimented them on their candle.
7. the news briefing room is exactly what it looks like on veep and designated survivor.
***eggboy edit: he wants you to know that he is 99.9% sure that is was bo and is reserving .1% for the possibility that this could have been a bo decoy and eggboy doesn’t want to get arrested if this was classified information. hiiii white house!
even though we spent less than 48 hours in d.c., we had the gosh darn loveliest time! aside from spending an afternoon at the white house, we hung out with the super awesome ladies of pineapple d.c. at on rye (which is the most insanely delicious new jewish deli (they have babka ice cream sandwiches!!!)), poked around the smithsonian and saw julia child’s old kitchen and got a tour from our new friend jessica, met our congressman who we learned is also a musician, and saw some extremely wonderful old friends!! everybody we saw had so much pride in d.c., and i certainly saw why. it is such a beautiful city with so many cool historical things, which i guess is exactly what you want in a capitol. that’s all i have to say about that, i wish i could say more, we tried to extend our trip because at the end of it we still had a list of people to see and things to eat, but then eggboy got food poisoning and barfed his brains out so we had to leave. he was officially forgiven for not telling me about his bo sighting.
all of susie’s gingerbread got me inspired to come home and make my own gingerbread houses! it was the first time i’d had any desire to do that since i burnt myself out on making our gingerbread farm. i figured i should ease into it with something on the smaller, simpler side, so here are some gingerbread chicken coops! i searched high and low for chicken cookie cutters but couldn’t find a small enough one, so the official story here is that all of our chickens are dressed up as other animals.
gingerbread chicken coops
makes 4 small houses
for the gingerbread:
1 c dark corn syrup, molasses, or a mix of the two (corn syrup for lighter colored walls, molasses for darker walls)
3/4 c dark brown sugar
3/4 c margarine or butter
4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
for the gingerbread house glue:
3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
4 c powdered sugar
candy, sprinkles, shredded coconut, marzipan, chocolate, or other edible things you can find around your kitchen
for the gingerbread:
In a medium saucepan or microwave-safe bowl, combine corn syrup or molasses, brown sugar, and margarine or butter. Heat over medium heat on the stove or in the microwave for 1-minute increments, stirring in between each, until the margarine or butter is melted and the sugar has completely dissolved.
In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Stir in the sugar mixture until combined. Cover with plastic wrap and let cool at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350° F and get your stencils ready. You can either make them or find them online. the coops pictured are about 2 3/4" wide and 4 1/4" tall at the tallest point.
Roll your dough out onto a piece of parchment paper that will fit on your cookie sheet. Lightly flour the dough and place your stencils on top (leaving 1 inch in between them) and use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to trace around them. Remove excess dough, slide the parchment onto your cookie sheet, and then bake until the edges just start to brown. Begin checking for doneness at 15 minutes. If you'd like a darker brown color, you can leave them in there for up to 45 minutes. You can re-roll your dough scraps a few times. If it starts to feel dry, microwave it for 30 seconds or so.
allows the walls to cool and then assemble using gingerbread house glue...
for the gingerbread house glue:
In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually beat in the powdered sugar. Beat on medium high for 7 to 10 minutes, until very fluffy.
Immediately spoon into a piping bag and use. Any frosting that's not being used should remain under plastic wrap (the plastic wrap should touch the surface of the frosting), so that it doesn't dry out.
to assemble the coops:
use the glue like mortar, pasting together the walls. reinforce every corner on the inside with more glue. prop them up to dry before gluing on the roof.
once all of the coops are assembled, let them dry for about 15 to 20 minutes. then, use your remaining glue to decorate!