Monday, February 6, 2012

Gingerbread Houses

We've started a tradition of making gingerbread houses over the New Years holiday.  We were expecting company some time around New Years who had been in on this adventure with us another year so we decided to wait until they visited this year.  But when they finally visited later in January their stay was too brief to include making gingerbread houses so we finally got around to making them ourselves this week.

 Following is the Betty Crocker recipe we used for the dough:
1 1/2 cups dark molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup shortening
7 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat oven to 350.  Roll dough 1/4" thick on floured board.  Use the following pattern to cut out the pieces (or like one of our creative little girls did to make a minature - cut your own).  Windows and doors can be cut out in any shapes that suit you but it is nice to have a pattern so that the roof and side pieces fit the ends. Unless you want to make this a math lesson, then they could meaure and figure how to make the sides and roof fit the peak ends.

We like to use crushed hard candies (we used Life Savers this time) to fill in the windows before we cooked them for stained glass windows. Line your cookie sheet with foil or baking parchment paper as the pieces are hard to remove (especially if you have candy windows).  
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges.

When your pieces are cool you can make the frosting by beating the following ingredients together until they make a nice, spreadable, paste:  1 pound of powdered sugar, 3 egg whites, and 1 teaspoon of cream of tartar.  Keep this covered when you aren't using it as it hardens fairly quickly.  Use a frosting bag or a plastic bag with a small hole cut in the corner to squeeze the frosting onto the edges of the pieces so you can "glue" them together.  We did the four sides of the house and the four sides of the chimney then waited overnight until it was dry to add the roof pieces as the weight of the roof otherwise seemed to break the house apart.  When the roof was dry we "glued" on the candy decorations.  

These can be set out on display for awhile and then eaten bit by bit.

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