I always used to wonder how people would get glass windows in their gingerbread houses; then I came across this technique a few years back. I love how easy it is and I love the realistic effect you get, especially when you have a light inside your gingerbread house. 

Please note you will do these steps before you assemble your gingerbread house. 
First, start with some butterscotch candy discs. You can find them at most stores or even gas stations. 
Unwrap the candies and place them in a ziploc bag and close the bag :) I use a hard wooden spoon to crush the candies up into small pieces.
Put your already Baked gingerbread house pieces on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. Place the crushed pieces of candy in your widow cut-outs of your gingerbread.
Put pieces in the oven at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes, or until the candy has melted. Remove from oven and let cool completely before taking the pieces off the cookie sheet. Once they are cooled you are able to assemble your gingerbread house as you normally would.
If you are looking for a great Christmas gift this year, Wilton Cake Decorating Classes are it! This is a gift that keeps on giving, because once you learn the talents of cake decorating you will use them all your life. My husband gave me the classes as a gift for our anniversary 6 years ago and look what it has turned into for me today. 

January is a great month to sign your special someone up for because there is the added 
Free $15 Wilton Gift Certificate when you take a 4 week class! You can view my class schedule here.

May I suggest a gift pack kinda like this... 
*Sign your special someone up for a class in January. Cost $20.25 (sign up in store)
*Buy the Course kit with a Hobby Lobby 40% off Coupon found here Cost: $21 (with coupon)
*Buy them a Hobby Lobby gift card for any addition supplies they might like to get
Wrap it all up and you are now the coolest gift giver out there :) My January classes do fill up quickly, so don't hesitate. Feel free to contact me about a full supply list for classes or if you have any other questions.

(costs are approximate and may be different at other locations)

Everyone loves that taste of cream cheese icing, but everyone knows is is too soft to use for most cake decorating. So what do you do when you want to decorate or even make icing roses in a cream cheese icing? You use a Decorator Cream Cheese Icing. This cream cheese icing has shortening added to it to help stabilize the icing so you can pipe borders, flowers and other decorations. I like to use this icing to pipe on top of cupcakes; it holds its shape really well. 
Decorator Cream Cheese Icing:

1 8oz. pkg. cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
1 tsp. vanilla
Dash of salt
6-8 c. powdered sugar

Cream together cream cheese, butter, and shortening. Add in vanilla and salt and cream some more. Mix in powdered sugar to desired consistency (6 cups for thinner to ice a cake with, 8 cups for stiffer for decorations. I do a medium consistency for the cupcakes).

Variation: I like to add about 1 T. of orange zest for an orange cream cheese. It is great for carrot cakes.
Take your cake skills to the next level when you learn awesome new flowers, such as the Wilton rose. Also, learn a fun new border and the basket weave. 
In Course 2: Flowers and Cake Design you will learn great new techniques in butter cream, royal icing and gum paste and fondant! Here is a list of a few techniques you will learn in
Course 2: Flowers and Cake Design...

* Making royal icing
* Gum paste and fondant basics
* Lily and flower nail
* Button flower
* Pansy
* apple blossom
* daffodil
* Lily
* Basket weave 
* Reverse shell border
And much more!
I have always wanted to host a Cookie Exchange party, and I thought that this would be the year for me to do it. However, as I am looking at the calendar things are filling up fast. But, that doesn't mean you can't have one, and to help you out I am giving away a Wilton Cookie Exchange book! This book is filled with great ideas on how to host a cookie exchange, cookie recipes, decorating ideas and much more.
To enter: all I need you to do is to leave a comment on this blog post telling me what your favorite cookie is. The contest will end November 16. 

Thanks a bunch and good luck!

*Contest is open to US residents only. 
I know, I know. I always post about this around this time of year, but I just can't help myself. It is time to start thinking about gingerbread houses!  Whether you are a beginner or experienced at gingerbreading I have a couple of tips for you.

If you are just a beginner and want to try one out for the first time this year, may I suggest you try one of the kits from Wilton. You can find them in most stores this time of year. They come with everything you need from decorating bags to some candies and pre-baked house pieces. They are easy and fun for you and the kids to put together.
If you are more experienced and would like to try making a creation of your own, I love these books to help me get ideas, Gingerbread: Things to Make and Bake and Gingerbread For All Seasons. They have some templates for different houses and tutorials. They also have recipes in them for a good strong gingerbread. You always want a good strong gingerbread when building houses. I have a favorite dough that I like to use for my houses and because my parents taught me to share I will share it with you! I really like this one because it is strong and it has lots of spices in it and it smells so festive :)

Gingerbread Dough for Houses:

5 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. molasses
2 eggs, beaten

In saucepan, melt shortening on stove over low heat. While shortening is melting, in another bowl stir together flour, salt and spices. When shortening is partially melted, remove from heat and stir to melt completely. Add sugar, molasses  and beaten eggs. Mix well and quickly so eggs won't cook. Add molasses mixture to to flour mixture and mix well. Dough will be soft. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until firm enough to handle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I like to roll dough onto aluminum foil. To prevent foil from slipping, wipe counter with wet sponge then smooth foil over damp counter. This keeps foil from slipping when rolling out dough.  Work with small amounts of dough, about baseball size. Sprinkle dough with flour and roll out dough. Roll dough about 1/8 inch thick, place house pattern pieces on cut dough. Leave your pieces on the foil and simple lift the foil and place it on a cookie sheet and bake. When piece is done baking and cooling you can easily remove the foil. 

You also need a good Royal Icing to put your house together. I Like Wilton's Royal Icing recipe because it is so simple.

Royal Icing:

3 T. meringue powder
4 c. powdered sugar
6 T. warm water

Make sure all utensils and mixing bowls are grease free. Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
If you have any questions on making gingerbread houses, let me know.

If you ever purchase a cake pan from Wilton, don't throw away the label. On the back of all Wilton pan labels there are instructions for the pan; on how many cups of batter, how long to bake them, and how much icing. The Wilton character pans have instructions on how to decorate the cakes in many different ways too. I keep all my pan instructions in a folder in my kitchen where they are easy to refer to.

But what if you accidently threw away your label to your cake pan? Have no fear, Wilton has most of there pan instructions online on their website. Or, I have some students that find old Wilton pans at yard sales or thrift stores that don't have the instructions with them. It is great that Wilton has made all the instructions available for us.