It’s hard to believe that it’s THAT time of year again. Just this past weekend, I walked in to Target and heard Christmas music playing. Although I’m not quite ready to decorate the Christmas tree yet, it’s never too early to start sharing holiday recipes, right?
I rediscovered this recipe last week and knew that I had to give this fun holiday kitchen project a new life. My kids and I love decorating gingerbread houses each year – it’s part baking and part art. And how often do you get to lick your fingers while crafting or eat your craft project once you’re done?
This recipe for homemade gingerbread – perfect for making gingerbread houses – is SO much tastier than the store-bought kits. The house smells amazing while they’re baking, and houses can be whatever shape or size you wish. Because I have 5 kids, it’s always a challenge when I buy the gingerbread house kit at the store…someone ends up taking over the project and not everyone gets equal creative time. When we make our own gingerbread houses, we make can make the pieces smaller so everyone has a small house to work on individually.
Enjoy this recipe for homemade gingerbread….and, yes, these are perfectly tasty enough to make as regular cookies or gingerbread men. I took these pictures WAY back in January 2009, so my kids are hardly recognizable (which makes this post all the more fun!).
Homemade Gingerbread Houses and Frosting Cement
- Gingerbread Houses
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 cup shortening or ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 tsp baking soda in ½ cup hot water
- 6 cups flour
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- ½-1 tsp ginger
- ½-1 tsp salt
- (I opted for going low on the ginger and salt, and heavier on the cinnamon)
- Simmer molasses and shortening or oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Cream sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl.
- Dissolve baking soda in ½ cup hot water (I do this in a mug).
- Combine molasses mixture, sugar/egg mixture, and dissolved baking soda in a large bowl.
- Combine flour, spices, and salt in a small bowl. I opted for going for the max amount of cinnamon and less ginger and salt.
- Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well until dough is stiff. At this point, I added a little more flour until my dough was no longer sticky.
- Cover and refrigerate dough for at least 30 minutes.
- Roll out dough and cut into the shapes that you want (either cookie cutters or into house pieces). Note: one house will typically need 2 long rectangular pieces for the sides, 2 rectangular pieces for the roof (these should be the same length as the side pieces or a little longer for roof "over-hang" but usually a little wider, too), and 2 "house-shaped" front pieces (think: triangle-on-top-of-square. The square portion of the front piece should be the same height as the side pieces).
- Bake on cookie sheets (I would recommend lining your cookie sheet with parchment paper) at 350°F for 8-10 minutes for cookies. Add an additional 5-10 minutes for house pieces. If you are going to be making a gingerbread house, turn off your oven and put the pieces back into the warm oven to dry the pieces out or leave them out to air dry overnight.
The kids don’t like waiting for everything to cool!
3 egg whites
¾ tsp cream of tartar
3 cups powdered sugar, divided
Beat egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff. Gradually add 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and beat for 5-10 minutes. Add another 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and beat another 5-10 minutes. Keep frosting covered, or it will dry out (that’s what it’s supposed to do!).
Build you gingerbread house:
Put your house together by using frosting cement as the mortar to hold the house pieces together. It’s helpful to have a few sets of hands to hold pieces in place while they dry. I like to put a few scoops of frosting into a ziploc bag, snip the end off, and pipe the frosting into place.
Once your structure is set, use the frosting cement to attach ALL sorts of candy decorations – from cookies to gum drops to candy canes and more. We like to make a few gingerbread men to add to the front of the house too. Use the frosting as part of the decoration, too! You can make scallops on the roof, draw windows and doors, and even make “icicles” falling off the roof.
Don’t stop at houses and men, though – get creative! You can make anything – your imagination is the limit. We love making Christmas trains, too! Everyone builds and decorates a car and then we put the whole train together.
Does your family make gingerbread houses every year? What are your favorite candies to use for decorations?
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