Saturday, November 29, 2008

A Tale of 3 Gingerbread Houses and a 5 year old

I was blessed to be able to spend Thanksgiving in Aliso Viejo this year with my godson, Sam, his parents and his "Nanna" and "Pappa". I thought is would be fun this year, since Sam is 5, almost 6, to get him involved in constructing a gingerbread house for the first time. Sam enjoys cooking... A lot... As I found out during one of my visits. I had decided to give his mom, my best friend, a night off for dinner. So I had hauled all of my pizza making equipment with me and a BIG batch of dough, with what seemed like a million toppings. He absolutely LOVED making his own pizza. It was, and I quote, "The bestest pizza ever!!" But I digress and that is another post, that I will have to put up, once I finish editing the pictures.

So armed with something resembling the pieces to a modular home:
I arrived with all the accoutrement to facilitate construction of 3 gingerbread chalets.
The list of candy/cookie decor was as follows:

  • Necco Wafers - Both Multicolored and Chocolate (For Slate Looking Tiles)
  • Chocolate Non-Perils (They look like snow on the roof)
  • Peppermint Straws (Window Sills)
  • Red Hots (Window Trim)
  • M&Ms (Misc. Walkways and trim)
  • Spearmint Leaves (Bushes)
  • Mini Spice gumdrops (Misc roof ridge line and walkway borders)
  • Giant Smarties (Roof ridge line and walkways)
  • Belgian Waffle Cookies (Roofing Tiles)
  • Belgian Tea Cookies (Doors and Shutters)
  • Candy Canes
  • Starlight Mints
  • Old Fashioned Lemon Drops (Crushed and used to make window panes while baking the dough)
  • Extra Miniature and Tiny Gingerbread men & Women fitted with Toothpicks before baking
The recipe for the gingerbread house pieces is located here on

I usually "glue" the pieces together using a dry caramel, I find it holds better than the Royal Icing that is typically used. I waited to assemble while he Sam was taking a quick nap in order to alleviate what would have in
evitably resulted in burns, I should know, I burnt myself twice with hot, sticky caramel so there was NO WAY I wanted Sam anywhere near the kitchen while I was doing that part.

I made a double batch of pseudo Royal icing:

2 boxes (8 cups) C&H powdered sugar
1 cup Crisco (butter may be used, but it doesn't make as white of an icing, and I wasn't going to be eating this anyway)
1/3 cup water (you cannot use milk or the frosting will not harden)
1 tsp Vanilla
Beat all ingredients together until fluffy.
Cover the surface with plastic wrap at room temp until ready to use.

After filling the 2 pastry bags (1 with a #4 writing tip and one with a #32 shell border tip)
and some quick instructions to Sam, his mother and his Nanna which resulted in my hands being covered with frosting, thus no pictures were taken during the process, the fun began.

Sam did very well, and while it was hard for him to squeeze the pastry bag, with some help from his mother, he was more than capable of decorating and having an absolute BLAST doing it.

He even helped me put the walkway, candy canes and "bushes" on the one I made for my friends autistic nephew. (below)

Here is a closeup of Sam's Gingerbread house.

And here is a picture of his Nanna's Gingerbread house.

Good fun and lasting memories were created for all of us. Lot's of laughter and scrambling to find fallen candy before Otto, my dog, could eat it. In my book, a much better activity for a Black Friday, than going shopping and dealing with craziness...



Michele said...

That is SO cool!!!! I've never made (or eaten) a gingerbread house before! It looks like so much fun! You are so creative!

Spryte said...

Those came out great!!!

Tawny & Bobby (and my nephew & niece) decorated gingerbread houses at my sister's house on Saturday night. And my Auntie Mary made me 5 extra houses to bring home so we could all do them together here, since Lilly couldn't make the trip with us.

Melissa said...

They both look beautiful! Sounds like everyone had fun.

Maggie said...

Beautiful houses! We have a lot of fun making ours every year.