Don’t you get tired of gingerbread men and egg nog? Sugar cookies and snowmen?
I decided that this month I’d treat my coworkers to a different kind of celebration. A more fantastic, dorkier way of enjoying the holidays.
I decided to do some Hobbity Holiday baking.
Of course thinking about it and doing it are different things, and if there’s one thing I want you to learn from my blog, it’s that things go wrong, cake disasters happen, but your coworkers won’t really care because, hey, you’re giving them free sugar.
The whole idea started when I was looking at these Hobbit Holes you can buy to use as sheds or playhouses or whatever. They’re cute and simple and I had this thought that decorating a cake Hobbit house would be way more fun than doing a regular old gingerbread house.
I have this Betty Crocker dome cake pan that I got as a gift at least eight years ago but have never used, and that seemed like a simple way to make the shape of the house.
But what to serve with it for our Hobbity second breakfast?
Elven Lembas Bread seemed like it would be pretty integral, and I always imagined it looking a little like shortbread, which is one of my never-fail recipes. I use the version from the Tartine cookbook (a birthday gift from my coworkers a few years ago). It’s quick to mix up, all goes in one pan so it’s fast to bake, and comes out golden and buttery.
I thought one more cookie would be good to round it out, and flipping through the rest of the Tartine book I came across Almond Rochers. “Rochers” is French for “boulders” and I figured I could rename them Orc Boulders. They’re a meringue cookie with toasted almond slivers, which I just happened to have.
My first try at the Almond Rochers went pretty well. The meringue mixed up quickly, the almonds didn’t flatten it and I was able to pipe them onto my baking sheet so they were nice and poofy.
They came out of the oven looking big and bouldery, but then as they cooled they started to sink.
Within 15 minutes I went from Orc Boulders to Orc Piles of Poo.
They still tasted yummy and toasty, but didn’t look like I wanted them to. I should have trusted my instincts and left them in the oven with the heat off to firm up, like I do with my Pavlova, but since it was a new recipe I stuck to the times in the book.
I tried them two more times but couldn’t even get the meringue to firm up. I wasted plenty of eggs and made myself a bit grouchy in the process. In the end I abandoned the Rochers and decided to go another route for my boulders: the donut shop I pass on my way to work.
For my Hobbit houses, the domed pan worked really well. I used a box mix and it baked up just fine:
Once the two parts are cool you remove the inside and frost it:
Then you put the middle in:
I cut that extra round part off the top and decided to use it as a little hill in front of the houses, which was nice.
I got as far as cutting the done in half and then realized something. I had no freaking idea how to decorate a Hobbit house.
Do I use green dye and shredded coconut for a grass roof? Flake bars as wood beams? Do I gingerbread house it with gum drops and candy canes? I didn’t know, and after an hour and three failed attempts at the Almond Rochers, I was feeling a little less patient about it. I really need to be less ambitious about these things, at least until I can make all these recipes in my sleep.
I threw on some green icing grass, made from buttercream frosting I had leftover in the fridge. Then I tried a Ritz cracker as the door. The texture was right, but the size was off. Candies as windows? Not bad, until they started melting. Clearly this project was under the evil influence of Saruman.
Luckily, through the magic of blog photography, I decided that if I stuck some Legos in front of it (I’m always happy to have a reason to buy Legos) and kept the houses fuzzy in the backtround, they would look super cute and Hobbity.
Once I got to the office I laid everything out on a simple brown tablecloth and I used some old wicker trays because they seemed like the kind of thing the elves would use to carry foods on in the forest.
I wanted one more thing to round out the table though, so I searched our vending machines and came up with beef jerky/Dragon Meat.
I’m tricksy like that.
So did it turned our just like I imagined it? Not really. It was fun though and my coworkers all had a good chuckle out of it. And it all works toward my larger goal of turning my coworkers into fat little hobbitses.
The one thing I think I should have added: One Jell-o Ring to Rule Them All
Now it’s your turn. I challenge you to create Hobbit houses of your own. Send me links to your photos and show me what I should do next time.