The spicy smell of gingerbread has been a Christmas favorite for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Take this crunchy cookie and make it into a house, and you’ve just indulged in a favorite tradition for the season.
Basically, gingerbread houses are one big cookie, cut into roofs and walls before baking, then spread with heavy-duty icing to “glue” them together. The resulting house then is lathered with candies, chocolates, marshmallows and such. Some people really get into it, like this version:
Others are fine with jamming various candies, and calling it good. The results can be surprising. This house looks complicated, but it’s actually very basic: gumdrops on the roof, outline icing for windows and door…and a drift of frosting ‘snow’ on top, dribbled down over the gumdrops in realistic fashion.
Whatever your temperament, this basic gingerbread recipe from Food Network is very helpful. Remember: you don’t want to under bake these pieces — they need to be firm, so your house stays upright through the season. Better Homes and Gardens has a particularly good how-to video, including several helpful tips. (Cheerful music, too.) You can even buy the gingerbread ready-made, or in a mix, in kits, as well as special cookie molds.
When it’s time to decorate, take a minute to study other gingerbread houses on the ‘Net, including a parade of 24 houses. I’m partial to one, lit up inside, with a snowman or two wandering around the yard.
One year, full of holiday cheer, I made an extra house…but didn’t ice the pieces into position. Instead, we sent a gingerbread house kit, complete with cookies, frosting and decorations, to Brother and Sister-in-Law in Montana. Unfortunately, they didn’t open the box, but put it under the tree, instead — where their dog found it Christmas morning. Needless to say, that was one construction project that never got under way. (I was just grateful I hadn’t included chocolate chips.)
On the other hand, I may just make a subdivision’s worth of these tiny gingerbread cookie houses instead, courtesy of Not Martha. She gives you full instructions, including a PDF of the house pattern. Have your house…and munch it, too!
These no-bake cookie cottages, also from la Stewart, have the same homespun charm, with a minimum of effort. What do you need? Graham crackers! (Note the ‘trees:’ they’re really ice cream cones.)
Cindy Brick is a personal property appraiser, judge and national teacher who loves to write about frugality and other personal finance topics. She has written six books and hundreds of articles, but often focuses on quilting, her teaching specialty. She lives in Colorado with her husband, two golden labs and a flock of very suspicious chickens. Find out more at Brickworks, http://www.cindybrick.com, or visit her personal blog: http://www.cindybrick.blogspot.com