Wednesday, December 23, 2009

California Style Gingerbread Houses

One of our favorite Christmas traditions each year is having a gingerbread house party.

Sounds a little ambitious, huh?

Well before you get too impressed you should know that unlike more creative mothers I have always gone with the minimal preparation method of gingerbread house creating by using graham crackers as the base.   Heck, all I need is the graham crackers, a few kids, 14 tons of candy, some royal icing, and a clear spot on the dining room table and we're all set to go.  I even let the kids construct their own houses without milk cartons instead of making them in advance. 

This year I kept hearing about people who made REAL gingerbread houses (you know with flour and ginger and all that jazz) and I started wondering if I could possibly pull it off too.  I purposely did not buy any graham crackers, stocked up on bulk candy, powdered sugar, and molasses, but still was too chicken (and stressed) to try it.

Then the snowstorm came.

Once again, the snow provided a perfect opportunity to slow down and give it a try with just our family. 

While the snow raged on outside, I got to work and tried a random recipe and template I found online and made enough pieces for 5 houses.  Apparently there are cool kits with cookie cutter like templates for  ensuring straight and even lines, but I did not know about such kits until after I was done, so these were cut with my own non-steady hands.

The next day we attempted to construct the sugar laden dwellings with real deal royal icing.  Apparently though, my random recipe from online for royal icing was defective, since it seemed a little lacking in strength.  That's when I decided that these would just be California style gingerbread houses.  Cracks, uneven walls, extreme leaning....we would just pretend there had been an earthquake. 

The kids were painstaking in the decorating process and did their darndest to fill in the cracks and gaps with oodles of icing and candy...

Putting on the finishing touches.

Adam's sweet creation.

Emma's lovely masterpiece.

Ellie's beautiful dream house.

 and in the end I decided our imperfect gingerbread neighborhood looked pretty darn cool (and way fancier than the slum style graham cracker houses we'd made in years past).

They got full kid approval too...

especially this cute guy who missed the in-school gingerbread house making and was thrilled with the chance to make his own!



annalisa said...

the houses are beautiful! they just have character with their cracks and uneven walls! the kids did a good job decorating!

mom said...

Love the gingerbread houses. The kids did great decorating them. Did Spencer and Cami decorate ones too?

Clarinda said...

I used to love making gingerbread houses with my mom. She even had one of the nifty kits with the cookie cutters! I hope I can start this tradition with my kids someday. So fun!

alexandra said...

Looks like the kids had lots of fun.

Our $10 Costco kit is still sitting at the kitchen table. Maybe we'll make a New Year's Gingerbread House instead.

I bought two matching gingerbread molds for my sister-in-law a couple years ago for her birthday. Each has half the house on one side and half on the other. Of course, even with two pans, you can only bake one house at a time. But if you got, say, 10, I think you'd be set!

Deanne said...

Those are great! You have some talented little artists in your house. They look so festive.

angela said...

Slum style graham cracker! That was funny. I have bought the entire kit (gingerbread already baked, comes with frosting mix and candies) and those turn out cute too! What a fun project!

Holly said...

Great gingerbread houses. They are well done! We cheated and made ours out of graham crackers.

K said...

Please put up a new post soon. I'm going through withdrawals!

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