This year I decided that I was finally going to make gingerbread houses. And not the graham cracker ones either!
One of the most enjoyable parts of a gingerbread house is, of course, finding all of the candy and trimmings! Without an actual candy store in the area, I was forced to get a little creative. Most of the candies (M&Ms, candy canes, red hots, watermelon slices, and gum drops) were found in my grocery store’s candy aisle. I thought that chocolate Pop Tarts would make the perfect roof tops, so those were in the breakfast aisle.
And the rest? Well, that’s all Halloween Candy! It was the perfect use for all that candy that was just sitting around!
The boys made their houses first.
My husband and I built the houses, complete with roofs about an hour before the boys started. I wanted to give the royal icing a chance to dry and make a nice, study structure.
Do you remember making those graham cracker houses in elementary school? Inevitably, someone would be working with a heavy hand and the whole thing would go tumbling down and tears of frustration would be flowing. Definitely not what I wanted. I wanted a fun time for the whole family.
My 4 year old decorated his house completely by himself – I only added the royal icing. He would point to a spot, I’d pipe the icing, and he’d do the rest! Didn’t he do a great job?
The second house was a collaboration between my husband and our 2 year old. The two year old added the M&Ms to the roof and then my husband pretty much did the rest while the little guy picked the candy off the house and ate it!
One the boys were finished and thoroughly sugared up, I sent them downstairs to burn some energy off with Daddy, and I got to concentrate on my house.
I haven’t really been feeling the red and green at all this year, and the gingerbread house reflects it. Sometimes it’s nice to take a break from the traditional colors.
I just love my pretty little house! I will be sad when it is time to take it down!
*I doubled the following recipe and had enough for 3 houses (using pop tarts as the roof) and about 30 cutout cookies
Basic Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Sharon O’Connor’s MusicCooks: Christmas Cookies
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup molasses
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and molasses until blended
In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and allspice and stir until combined. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until blended.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. Or Use a template to cut out gingerbread houses (or have your husband eyeball it – either way). Transfer cookies to a baking sheet, placing them 1 inch apart.
Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until set. Large house panel will take longer, sometimes up to 12 minutes, depending on the oven. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Once cooled, decorate with royal icing and candies! Store in an airtight container up to 3 weeks.
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp meringue powder
4 tbsp water
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low for 7 minutes. If the icing is too thick or crumbly, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time. The icing should be stiff, but not so stiff you can’t pipe it.