Saturday, December 27, 2014

My favorite holiday pastime; Gingerbread Houses!

I love the food of the holidays! Roasted turkey, glazed ham, standing rib roast, all those awesome sides, you name it! Aside from cooking and eating all those wonderful things, I find a lot of pleasure in building gingerbread houses. The planning, the trip to my favorite candy aisle, the hobby store and the "BIG REVEAL!" All fun and exciting.

This year, I decided to do a replica of  a new athletics complex at an area private school. The building wasn't even built yet but I knew recreating it would make a huge impact. I love being all about the WOW factor!

Since there was really nothing physical I could use to make this replica, I had to use a picture that was hanging in the lobby. I just eye-balled the dimensions and it came out pretty nice.

In order to make my life a little easier (and to be able to recreate this in the future) I had to make a set of stencils out of something pretty sturdy. In the picture below, you will see that I chose a large cardboard box.I just held them together temporarily with scotch-tape to make sure it was going to fit my sheet pan. I was also sure to mark each side, wall and rooftop to avoid confusion later.

Of course, what's a gingerbread house without tasty gingerbread, right? Here's my favorite gingerbread dough recipe. This page even has some simple templates to help you build your own! The cookie is actually tasty too.

 Using my cardboard templates, I rolled the dough out in sheets and took a paring knife to cut around the stencil. I then laid them out on parchment lined sheet pans and wrote the names of each section to avoid a night mare later! 

Of course, royal icing is the glue that holds it all together. Once the icing sets a little, its time to stick all your candy on. There's no rhyme or reason, just have fun with it. I like "Necco Wafers" for ceiling tiles, they seem to work the best. Shredded coconut makes great snow. Crushing up some hard candies into powder makes awesome stained-glass windows too. After baking your sides, you lay the wall down where you want a window onto a sheet of flat aluminum foil, sprinkle the crushed candy dust carefully into the window hole and pop into the over for about 3 minutes or until the candy melts. Let cool completely and carefully pull the foil off the back of your wall. Any color will do. I chose red-cinnamon candies for these windows.

Red cinnamon candy windows, rice crispy treats with green food coloring for a wreath. 

Days to build, moments to kill!