This year my 10 year old nephew and I each made Gingerbread houses for a contest in my town. Rules: they need to incorporate a candy cane, they can’t be larger than 12 inches by 12 inches, only the base can be non-edible, and it can’t be a purchased kit. The 10 years and younger category is the only category that can have adult help with making the dough, baking and assembly. My Dad cut two bases out of plywood for us. We covered them with heavy duty aluminum foil. They are very sturdy. Today I will bring them to the library for display and judging. I am a little nervous about transporting them.
Gingerbread Recipe: I used this recipe because it uses butter. Originally I thought about using Crisco Shortening but I read that it does not work the same since becoming healthier so I opted to take the safer path and use butter. I had used this recipe in the past and it is very easy to work with. I made the dough two days before and baked and assembled the houses one day before we decorated them.
Frosting Recipe: I did not want to deal with cracking and separating eggs so I used this recipe which uses Meringue Powder. It hardens fast and in general holds well (except for the regular sized candy canes on the roof line).
This is my nephews house. He drew a sketch of what he wanted it to look like and what materials I would need to buy. He did a great job and was happy when it was done! We used the Wilton Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter Set to cut the pieces. We did need to change one part of his design because the regular sized candy canes with a round peppermint candy on top of them would not stick to the house. They kept on falling off several hours later. So we used miniature candy canes and attached the round peppermint candy behind it.
My nephew used spearmint leaves candy as foliage around the house. The roof is frosted and has miniature M&M’s on the top.
We were not sure how these will be displayed and if people will look at the back. My nephew chose to keep the back of his house simple. I like it! His hands got a little tired but he did a great job piping the door and windows on the house.
He made a gingerbread sleigh out of gingerbread scraps that he cut to size. He used a small gingerbread man cookie cutter for the man. He glued miniature M&M’s for mittens. Miniature candy canes are the sleigh runners. Square gum became the front walkway.
I purchased bags of the large peppermint sticks at the Dollar Tree. He used them with gumdrops for a fence, to trim the house and walk, and to make the large front doors. Miniature M&M’s are the door knobs.
This is my entry for the 19 and older category (the first photo in this post shows another view of my house). I decided on an A-frame style house because I never tried this type before and I liked the large roof. Also when I was growing up my Grandparents had an A-frame house as their summer home. I used the roof pieces from the Wilton Gingerbread House Cookie Cutter Set and created two triangular pieces. I was a little off with my templates so one side is raised up with some gumdrops (my husband’s idea) and a lot of frosting is on the roof so you can’t see the gap between the two pieces. I crushed candy canes and added them to the roof. This photo actually shows the back of my house.
This is the front of my house. I made a balcony out of gingerbread scraps and lined it with PEZ candy. I did not know if the judges wanted a literal interpretation of the candy cane theme so in addition to crushed candy canes on my roof, I used them as little fences in the back and front of my house. I used red, green, and white rock shaped candy for my front and back walks. Small red candy lines my front and back doors. I used two peppermint candies for the chimney.
This close-up of the back of my house, shows the gumdrops I used as foliage and the sugar ice cream cones I used for trees. I tinted some frosting green and it was very easy to make these cute trees.
My nephew had fun crushing the candy canes for me. We put them in a large Ziplock bag and he used my marble rolling pin to crush the candy canes. It made a lot of noise but it smelled great and he had a good time. I made a mess while putting the crushed candy canes on the freshly frosted roof (I had wax paper underneath and tilted my house but candy cane pieces went everywhere including on my floor). But I am very pleased with the look.
I know, this is very simple and not the best looking gingerbread house lunch since it is monochromatic and not colorful and fun. But we left the color and creativity to our gingerbread houses. Also on a busy day of decorating, it was a easy lunch to make. I actually made two versions of this (mine had a lot of scraps).
Left Side: Gingerbread house Cheddar cheese quesadilla with food marker details, candy canes. I used a cookie cutter similar to this but you could easily cut the quesadilla to your desired shape.
Top Right: Carrots and green bell pepper cut into candy cane shapes with a mini cutter
Bottom Right: Gingerbread men shaped apples cut with a mini gingerbread man cutter, I dipped them in water with some lemon juice to prevent browning
We had a fantastic time making our gingerbread houses and I look forward to seeing the other entries in the contest. We already are winners for spending time and creating edible art together.