Saturday, December 15, 2012

GINGERBREAD HOUSE

Gingerbread houses make wonderful gifts. Not only are they easy (you really can't goof them up because frosting fixes everything) but they are an impressive GIFT FROM THE KITCHEN!!

You can make them out of gingerbread dough, like this one (it is delicious and smells fantastic), or you can make them out of graham crackers (glued together with royal frosting). You can make them simple or elegant. You can use any candy, cereal, cookies, crackers or pretzels you have on hand... let your imagination be your guide.
CLICK TO ENLARGE

Upside down (and frosted) ice cream sugar cones (decorated with sprinkles) make wonderful Christmas trees next to your gingerbread house. Pretzels make perfect fences, marshmallows make cute snowmen and if you really want to get fancy, you can use tufts of cotton candy coming out of a chimney for smoke and marshmallow cream frosted around the bottom of the gingerbread house makes wonderful snow ....the sky is the limit. Decorated gingerbread houses have a LONG shelf life if you use royal frosting (recipe below). It dries rock hard and is very strong.

5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
2 eggs

Beat the shortening and sugar together until well mixed and creamy. Add the molasses and eggs and beat until well combined.

Combine the flour, spices, baking soda and salt and slowly add it to the shortening-sugar mixture; beat until everything is smooth. 

You will be rolling out the gingerbread house pieces on the BACK of ungreased cookie sheets. The reason for this is so that after you cut out the pieces, they don't have to be moved before baking and they won't get mis-shapen.


CLICK ON THIS PICTURE TO ENLARGE

Use the above measurements to make a pattern on paper or a manila folder, even waxed paper will work. Roll out some of the dough right on the back of a big cookie sheet, using a lightly floured rolling pin, to about 1/8" thick.

Lay the paper pattern pieces right on the rolled out dough and cut the dough out with a sharp knife. Remove any excess scraps so that just the gingerbread piece is left on the back of the cookie sheet. Using the BACK of the cookie sheet also makes it a lot easier to slide the baked cookie onto a cooling rack (no cookie sheet "edge" to deal with.

Bake the pieces in a pre-heated 350° oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Let the baked pieces cool on the pan a little before you try to remove them. Cool them completely on a wire rack.

Now the fun starts!!

ROYAL FROSTING 
This is what you glue the pieces together with

3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 egg whites (if you are going to eat this use egg white powder)

In a large bowl, beat the sugar and egg whites until smooth. Place in a pastry bag with a star tip (or place in a resealable plastic bag and cut the corner off).

Use a large serving tray or a foil lined piece of heavy cardboard to hold the finished gingerbread house. Put a few dots of this royal frosting on the underside of the "floor" piece and stick it to the serving tray. This will keep it from sliding around if its moved.

Lay an end and one side of the gingerbread house down flat(where they are supposed to go) around the edges of the "floor". Pipe a generous line of the royal frosting around the edges of each piece.

Carefully lift and press the edges of one end of the house to the side of the house.Repeat for the other side.

Now, I've made these for years, and there is a trick I'll share with you.  Get the ends and sides up and use a little extra royal frosting on the seams but DON'T put on the roof until the next day.  If you wait until the next day, the walls will be VERY strong and there is no chance that the roof will be too heavy.

Day two, put the roof on and let the royal frosting harden until day three......now you are good to go, you can almost drive a truck over it after this point, and it won't break on you.

White tree's with sprinkles, green trees with sprinkles, pretzel fences, gum drop topped candy cane's, Necco shingles (frosted shredded wheat also makes great shingles).

This older photo is a "house" I made using chocolate graham crackers. I hope you try it. It might seem complicated, but once you make ONE......you'll be hooked.

NOTE: If your making this to eat (some people eat them, some people just display them), make the royal frosting using powdered egg whites (sold in the baking isle). If you are going to let little guys eat the gingerbread house..... use royal frosting to glue the structural pieces together, but use a softer frosting to embed the shingles or frost the trees. It makes it easier for the kids to "pick off" the candy goodies.
NOTE:  Royal frosting dries out almost instantly if it isn't covered with plastic wrap (that is why it makes such a great frosting "glue". Keep a wet dish towl over your frosting bowl while you work.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are one amazing gal. Thanks for sharing these houses. Peggy

Mary said...

I love gingerbread houses and you've managed to give us a "real" one. It is a work of art. I hope you have a great week. Blessings...Mary

betty r said...

Coleen, I can imagine that it would be worth the effort! A fun project..so pretty!

Caroline said...

This sounds wonderful for an upcoming party I am hosting. Thank you for sharing and giving such great direction.

Jiah said...

wow love your blog, very nice

charlotte mgcc said...

You are one ambitious gal Colleen. These little houses are so cute.