I’ve always wanted to build a gingerbread house. Sure, we made a little one that sort of looked like a house in kindergarten, but nothing close to the elaborate one I see in my head. Lots of icing, lots of candy…a scene to transport anyone who sees it. I decided to start small, something that would test my skill level.
Since I had not made gingerbread since childhood, I researched a lot of recipes. I found one that seemed really interesting, and included lemon zest, via Genius Kitchen by gingerkitten D. I have a convection oven and added one extra minute of baking time. I wanted them to remain soft but firm enough to assemble. This was especially important for the large tree shaped cookie.
For the royal icing, I used a basic recipe from Taste of Home…confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder and warm water. Not my usual recipe but it worked well for the thicker green on the tree. At first, I went back and forth about adding more water to make the icing smooth but once I started working with it, I liked the bumps for this particular scene. After applying the green icing, I added white icing for the snow. I have a set of various blue and white sugar decorations from Wilton, think Frozen, so I used blue sparkling sugar then added white sugar snowflakes and silver metallic stars. I mixed blue icing to match closely to the blue sugar, and dotted the tree to hold the white pearls. I placed a cookie star on top with a toothpick which I covered in sparkling sugar in bright white. While the icing dried, I worked on the cookie base.
I created a walking path in front of where the tree would stand by adding a layer of white icing then lined it with mixed nonpareils in blue, gray and white. I then added the tree, a small star near it and a snowflake in the front corner. The snowflake and star sat perfectly on the cookie base but because of the size and weight of the tree, I used a medium size gingerbread star, turned sideways, as a prop to hold it up. I stabilized the star with two toothpicks. Once everything was assembled, it was just a a matter of adding snow with white icing.
I used a Wilton #4 tip for all icing. It’s really versatile and makes it easy to add snow on top of the the cookies and fill in the scene. Royal icing dries quickly so everything was bound together as a unit and didn’t fall over when I moved it for the photo shoot.
Don’t be overwhelmed with the various sprinkle decorations. It seems like a lot, I know. Throughout the year, I look for colors that appeal to me and they never come from one source. Sprinkles have a long shelf life, supposedly 3-5 years beyond the “best by” date stamped on the container, so watch for end-of-season sales and clearances. Before you know it, you’ll have a nice collection. I do the same with cookie cutters.
I’m really happy with how this turned out, especially for my first try. Now, to find the time to build my gingerbread dream home!