Gather the kids, icing, gumdrops and gingerbread for a holiday construction project that will be fun for all.
“For the love of Santa, please stay,” you whimper as sugary icing bubbles between your fingers and down the gingerbread siding. Once you steady your jack-frost-frozen limbs, little on-lookers will no doubt be poking the wobbling walls and grabbing gumdrops off the lawn. Sounds fun right?
But I assure you—building a gingerbread house can be a blast if you keep organized and follow our foolproof guide:
- To Eat or Not to Eat?: That is the question. Before building, decide if your house is going to be for display only or if it will actually be eaten. If you go the inedible route, use an eggless and spice-heavy recipe so the pieces won’t distort in the oven and will the finished product will emit a cozy seasonal scent. Feel free to cheat a little too by mortaring the pieces together with a glue gun. Edible houses are a bit more challenging as they need to look and taste good (we suggest our fabulous gingerbread recipe)—but the pay-off is super sweet.
- Choosing a Template: For a well constructed blue-print, go online and search for free templates. Designs vary from simple four walled homes to complicated mansions complete with porches and picket fences.
- Construction: Royal icing is the best choice for mortar. To avoid a panicky house-of-cards situation, make sure the icing is at a caulk-like consistency. Too goopy and nothing will hold, but too dry and the pieces will crack. The key to good construction is patience. Attach one wall at a time and allow the pieces to mold together completely before moving on to the next step.
- Dressing it Up: Now for the fun part! Decorate the walls, roof and foundation of your newly constructed home with all types of sugary emblems. Jellybeans make great cobblestones, Twizzlers are perfect window seals and candy canes can be fun lamp-posts. Also be sure to make some resident gingerbread men for the home (and munching). There are no rules here—just be creative!
—By Emily Arno
These gingerbread cookies are on the soft side. For a crispier cookie, use all butter.