Every year sinceI was a kid, we make a gingerbread house of some kind. When I was younger, that consisted of a homemade house and dough mixed and pressed into a stone mold by my Mom. She always made one for each of us five kids, and usually made more for our friends.
I broke away from the mold a few times when I was older, making my own house pattern and using different dough recipes. Some worked, some did not. But we’ve had so much gingerbread success over the years. Through trial and error, we’ve found the best candies for different parts of the house, and even learned how to add stained glass windows to our little edible creations. The following is my best advice when making gingerbread houses at home!
1. Gather all you candy into one place. I usually pick things up over a long period of time when I’m out and about. We also have a specialty cake and candy store right on my street (really!) that is perfect for finding cool candy. My favorites are the necco wafers for the roof and candy rocks for the chimney. I always, always use peppermints and candy canes, m&m’s, tiny chiclets, and silver dragees.
2. Using this recipe and pattern mix, roll, and cut out your dough. I followed all the steps for “lighter dough”. You’ll notice that this house doesn’t have any spices in it- spices = extra expense so I went without. We never eat the house, so I’d rather save those yummy spices for the cookies that we’ll actually enjoy eating.
3. Before baking, I cut out windows to add stained glass (shutters optional) and made an extra donut shape to use as a big wreath.
4. Paint bricks onto the sides of your house using a flat tip paint brush and a mixture of gel food coloring and alcohol (clear rum or vodka is best)
5. On a silpat (absolutely necessary) place two jolly rancher candies together and space each pair at least three inches apart. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes or until melted and liquid. Pull out of oven to cool.
7. Take a break to schlepp kids and dog to the park.
8. Decorate! I use a powdered royal icing mix for these houses but you can google any royal icing recipe to use- make sure it calls for egg whites and lemon juice and always follow the directions on beating time- usually royal icing needs to be mixed for at least 6 minutes. Decorate the roof before you attach it to the house. Don’t forget a walkway!
An icing covered sugar cone works as a nice little tree.
I’ll be inserting a little electric tea light as soon as I find them… that will really make the house come alive and sparkle.
Have fun making your own houses- however you like to do it. I’d love to see them! Send me a picture, click to post it on my FB page. And don’t forget to “like” that page to receive all kinds of great updates and ideas on all things creative.