Gingerbread houses are a Christmas tradition in our house. I started making gingerbread houses with my son when he was barely old enough to sit up at the table. We've made everything from graham cracker houses to elaborate gingerbread mansions. This year I made each of the kids their own house to decorate.
Over the past 14 years, I've learned a lot about the construction of gingerbread houses. One of the most important things is finding a great gingerbread recipe. My recipe is great for building houses but it probably is not the best tasting gingerbread. We usually don't eat our houses anyway.
Gingerbread House Dough
1 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 cups flour
1 Tablespoon ground ginger
1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
In saucepan, combine corn syrup, brown sugar and shortening. Stir over medium heat until melted.
Combine flour, ginger and cinnamon. Add corn syrup mixture. Mix until dough forms.
Roll a portion of the dough out on a sheet of parchment paper. By rolling the dough out on parchment, you eliminate the need to pick up the pieces and move them onto the baking sheet. Moving the pieces tends to distort their shape and they don't fit together as well if they are not square.
This year in addition to the houses that I made for the kids to decorate, I also made some mini gingerbread houses. I saw this on www.notmartha.com and I couldn't resist - I had to give them a try.
I printed a template for my gingerbread houses off of her website. I traced the patterns onto card stock and cut them out. I used an exacto knife to cut the shapes out of my gingerbread. I remove the excess dough from around the pieces instead of trying to pick up the cut pieces of gingerbread.
Once my little gingerbread village was all cut, I picked up the parchment and placed it on a baking sheet to bake. The baking time will vary depending on the thickness of the gingerbread. I baked mine about 10 minutes at 350.
Once the pieces were completely cooled, I stacked up my building supplies.
I made a batch of Royal Icing to hold my houses together. Again this icing isn't the best for eating but it really does a great job of holding gingerbread houses together.
Once we had all of the houses assembled, my daughter helped me decorate the mini roofs. White sanding sugar, white nonpareils and crushed peppermint seemed fitting adornments for these cute little houses.
I served coffee in these gingerbread topped mugs at our Christmas party last weekend.
They really are a cute addition to any Christmas meal. If you're not up to tackling a big gingerbread house, start by making a few of these mini houses.