An Easy, Customized Gingerbread House
My husband, Scott, and I have a tradition of making gingerbread houses at Christmas. We’ve rendered the Guggenheim Museum in frosting, Oreos, and Gummy Bears…
And built Boston brownstones with amber poured sugar windows.
These projects were fun, but between making the dough, baking the pieces, assembling the buildings, and decorating them, they took about 1 1/2 days to complete. In recent years, we couldn’t seem to find the time to tackle another project, until my husband got crafty with a pre-made gingerbread kit.
As with so many household problems, we found our solution at IKEA. Their “PEPPARKAKA HUS” kit cost just $3.99 and had all the gingerbread we needed to make a simple cottage structure.
Then all we had to do was add modifications. Our son is a big fan of the LEGO Ninjago series, so we decided to make a dojo, or martial arts training center.
We took the standard parts and Scott sketched modifications on the instruction sheet…
Then we cut our additional parts out of some sugar cookie dough I happened to have on hand.
We purposely overbaked them so their color would match the gingerbread. Then we assembled the cottage and added the extra pieces, using royal icing as the glue.
By adding red food coloring to some of the icing, we were able to glaze the ornamental pieces.
Then we used green M&Ms to tile the roof, added red M&M accents, and brought in the Lego characters. Our dojo was complete, and it took only half a day.
If you plan to make a gingerbread house of your own, here’s a great (and food safe) recipe for making royal icing with real egg whites.
Makes: Enough icing for a typical gingerbread house
Total time: 10 minutes
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 standard 1 lb. box of confectioner’s sugar
- Equipment: an instant-read thermometer
Crack the egg whites into a medium microwave-safe bowl. Add half the box (about 1/2 lb.) of the confectioner’s sugar and whisk until smooth. Put the bowl in the microwave and cook on high in 20-second intervals, whisking between each interval, until the mixture reads 160° on an instant-read thermometer. Watch the cooking carefully—if the eggs get to hot, they’ll solidify.
Once the egg mixture reaches the desired temperature, transfer it to a large bowl and add the remaining confectioner’s sugar. Using a standing or hand-held mixer, beat the egg mixture on high with the whisk attachment until it is fluffy and holds stiff peaks. Transfer to a pastry bag and proceed with building.