Sunday, December 09, 2012

Easy Peasy Gingerbread-esque Houses

I'm not really sure why gingerbread houses are connected to Christmas.  Doesn't the concept come from Hansel & Gretl and isn't it where the witch lives?  This is the type of question that can result in my wasting an entire evening on the interwebs looking for an explanation.  So instead, let's just go with it.

Gingerbread houses are just a part of Christmas.  And other than the painstaking process of making the actual gingerbread, they are fun to make.  Last weekend we made simple gingerbread-esque houses that allowed us to skip quickly ahead to the best part - the decorating.

The houses were constructed using graham crackers.

Ready to Decorate

A couple of tips on building the houses:

  • When cutting the gables (the pointy sides for the roof), use a serrated knife and a sawing motion.  Resist the temptation to slice or cut, because the graham cracker will break and crumble.  Each house used 4 full size graham crackers.  2 were used to make the gables, and 2 were broken into squares for the other walls and roof.
  • If you want to make sure your roof lines up evenly, make sure all of your graham crackers are pointed in the same direction.  But any gaps can be easily hidden with candy and decorations.
Our building compound of choice was royal icing.  I used meringue powder and used the basic recipe that is on the can:
Royal Icing
3 T Meringue Powder
4 cups powdered sugar
6 T warm water  
Mix in stand mixer.
If you don't have meringue powder, you can easily find a recipe online using egg whites.  We used 2 batches of the frosting to make 7 houses.  We put the icing into disposable pastry bags without tips.  We just cut a small hole in the tip.  Unless you want precise piping, this will be more than sufficient.  If you don't have pastry bags, you can also use plain ziploc bags.

Pipe the frosting at the joins of each house and build your house on a piece of cardboard or a plate.  The royal icing will dry pretty quickly and will keep everything together.

Once the house is built, you can start decorating.  We used a variety of candy and decorations.  Some were purchased just for this project and some we just found around the house.


Some of the candy and other items we used we used:

  • Gumdrops
  • Red Hots
  • Holiday Sprees
  • Holiday M&Ms
  • Mike & Ikes
  • Mini Candy Canes
  • Junior Mints
  • Rolos
  • Andes Mints (doors and shingles)
  • Mini Nilla Wafers
  • Oatmeal Squares Cereal (for shingles)
  • White cotton candy (snow, but it melted quickly under regular lights)
  • Square pretzels (windows)
  • Other random candy and cake decorating supplies
I realized after I'd purchased some of the supplies that the dollar store would have been the perfect place to find supplies.  They have lots of random holiday candy, and I'm not sure that it all tastes the best, it would be perfect for decorations.

All of the houses turned out a little different, but were all really cute.

Finished House -02

My dad didn't settle for the basic shape we used, and instead made a holiday outhouse.

Dad's Out House

My house:
Finished House _ Libby's

My sister's house:
Emily's House

Anna's House:
Anna's House

Grace's House:
Grace's House

Each had a unique element.  But because everything in our family is a competition, it was, of course, a competition.  However, our judges were unable to make a final decision or select a winner.  We'll just have to try again next year.

The girls had a really good time decorating their houses.  This would make a really fun party.  You could assemble all of the houses in advance (and pretty quickly) and just focus on the decorations.

1 comment(s). Tell me what you think!:

Abby said...

They're all great! I am particularly fond of Grace's front pathway and Anna's ingenuity with the side entrance. But I must ask: was Waldo in the sh*tter?

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