Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It’s a Gingerbread contest!

A few days before we made our gingerbread houses we completed our annual "Lord of the Rings" marathon.  I think that this being fresh on our minds contributed to two of our children deciding that they were going to recreate, using graham crackers, hot glue, frosting and candy, Sauron’s tower.  Also known as Barad-dur.  They decided that since they both were going to make it they would have a contest like Cindy Lynn and Mahon do every year when they carve pumpkins.  So here you have it—our Gingerbread competition.

First, so you can see the look that they were both going for, here is a picture of Barad-dur.  By the way, Barad-dur took Sauron 600 years to build—our towers were much quicker than that.  (And tasted better too.) 

(Can I tell you how much it delights me that there is a wikipedia article on Barad-dur??)

barad durbarad dur eye

A brief note.  I lay in bed last night trying to figure out how to label the contestants.  I figured that since they came into the world labled “A” and “B”, it would be foolish to use any kind of alpha-numeric label here and have people trying to guess who’s tower belonged to whom based on birth order.  So I present to you:

M&M Tower:

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The builder of the M&M tower utilized the always necessary butter knife carving strategy in building her tower.  The foundation is made of 4 full sized graham crackers, and then the graham crackers in each succeeding level are shaved a little bit smaller.  This precision cracker-alteration requires a patient mind and a steady hand. 

They Eye of Saron is also made of graham crackers.  One piece was cut in the shape of an eye, and then a smaller diamond shape was put on top of that to give dimensionality.  The entire surface was then covered in orange frosting, and orange, yellow, and brown mini m&ms. 

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The tower is decorated authentically in choco-rocks with just a small starlight mint departure to honor the Christmas season.

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It is important to mention that before the m&m tower builder put frosting on the sides she stuffed candy through the openings into the tower.  Ending up with a lot of candy to eat afterwards is a very important component of gingerbread house making in our home.

Glass Tower

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The builder of the glass tower utilized a different strategy to make her tower.  She used half-sized crackers to make little cubes, then glued them together to make her main tower.

She added additional structures at the bottom of the tower to represent the wider bottom levels of Barad-dur.  Her frosting embellishments include ladders to climb up and a door in the middle.

The glass tower builder came up with the idea of using homemade glass candy to create the eye of Sauron.  Originally I was not enthusiastic, because I knew that due to the extreme high temperatures involved in making glass candy that part of her idea was going to be outsourced to me.  Fortunately it came together quickly and I could see that her vision was indeed a good one.  While the candy mixture was boiling I made a tinfoil mold in the shape of an eye.  (Ok, I made it round and Mahon shaped it to be an eye.)  I made the glass candy, colored it yellow, and poured it into the mold.  Then I dropped a drop of red food coloring in the middle and used a wooden shish-ka-bob skewer to widen the drop of red and pull the color out in streaks.  It was a thing of beauty if I do say so myself.  My only regret is that the eye of Sauron was not flavored.  But that has nothing to do with the contest.


It was a tricky business securing the eye of Sauron to the top of the tower and required a glue gun and the hands of three people. 

The builder of the glass tower was so caught up in her building that she initially forgot to stash candy in her building.  She made up for this by carefully carving out an opening in each level and stuffing the levels with jelly beans, choco-rocks, chocolate bells, and m&ms. 


Then she carefully reinserted the cracker pieces and secured them with a little bit of hot glue.

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Thanks to Cindy Lynn we know just how to run a blog contest like this.  One vote per person.  If you don’t have a login with your name in it, below the comment box under “choose an identity” you can choose “name/url” and then put your name in there.  You don’t even need a url, how nice is that.  More than one person in a home can vote, but they each need a separate entry with their name on it.  We will run the contest through Monday night, Martin Luther King day, and announce our winner on Tuesday.  (Probably after I take our cousin back to the airport…so don’t look for it too early.) 

VOTE PLEASE!  So that my girls won’t look like this:

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And here is one more look for you (as per my cousin Melanie’s request) of both towers.  First the glass tower, than the m&m tower.

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[This was as close to side by side as I could get, since the towers (and particularly the candy inside) have since passed on to that great trash can in the sky…]


  1. I vote for the M&M tower, based on it looking more like the picture above, but both are pretty awesome!

  2. I'm thinking we need a photo of the towers side by side before a decision can be made

  3. They are both great..if I HAVE to pick...the glass tower! Good job!

  4. Daniel votes for the M&M tower because he thinks it looks "more similar" to the picture of Barad-Dur. =)

    {side note by Megan: I asked him if he remembered the triplets & he said, "Yes, I miss them a lot!" Also, he wanted to know which tower was whose, so I'm pretty sure the vote would have been swayed toward Rachel if you hadn't kept it anonymous. ;D}

  5. Trinity (Hannah's friend)January 16, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    m&m tower

  6. We all agree that we like both of them a lot, and we like different parts of them for different reasons. But if I have to choose just one, I will vote for the M&M tower because I love how its structure mimics the silhouette of the photo.

    Way to go, Jenna & Rachel!

  7. I loved them both, it was hard to choose, but I am going with the glass tower because I really liked the candy glass tower.

  8. Guys, this is hard to decide - - - just because you are forcing me to choose one - - - I choose M&M. It might be because I make it a rule that if I have to choose between M&M's and anything always choose M&M . . .

  9. i am torn. i like the glass tower best glue seems like cheating...was hot glue involved in the m&m tower too? isnt the slip sliding around, before the frosting sets, part of the fun w/ gingerbread?

    so i guess..m&m if no glue was used in it. if hot glue was used in both i vote for the glass tower. how do you like my conditional vote?

  10. My answer to momster:

    We are totally and completely cheaters. All construction is accomplished with hot glue, which is then covered with frosting. And in addition to hot glue, sometimes we (not the girls this time) hot glue paper to the back of our cracker pieces to give them more strength or hold them together in a way they would not stay normally. and all...but we have such fun!

  11. The macker of the Glass TowerJanuary 17, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. The maker of the Glass TowerJanuary 17, 2013 at 9:24 AM

    I would like to say: I worked REALLY hard getting that eye up! Like mom said, it had taken three hands just to get it up, and it was my idea how to get it to stay. :) But, I do agree that The m&m tower does look more like the tower of Barad-dur...

  13. Glass for me, but it's a hard choice.

  14. Sharon Denny says Glass tower. They are both amazing, but I love the glass, very creative

  15. the m&m tower

  16. the glass tower definitely wins my vote!! great job guys!!!

  17. The maker of the GlassJanuary 19, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    What does Laura Kate vote for?

  18. I vote M&M tower.
    But well done to both of you!!!

  19. OK...... this is REALLY hard for me........ I LOVE them both! I think they have entirely different strengths. But, I was so impressed by the way the M&M creator did her tower construction, so I think my vote has to go there!

    Mahon votes for the glass tower. He told me specifically to cast his vote for the underdog, without knowing who it was. ;)