We adapted this pretty gingerbread house from Ellen Wages in Vancleave, Mississippi…and came up with this petite version. Unlike Ellen's larger classroom house, it doesn't need to be constructed around a cardboard shell. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 3/4 cup dark molasses
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3-1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 3-3/4 to 4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 5 to 6 tablespoons warm water
- Pastry bag
- Round pastry tip # 12
- Green paste food coloring
- Spice jars
- CANDIES: Starlight mints, caramels, red-hot candies, colored sprinkles, red shoestring licorice, Tootsie rolls, Sixlets, sticks striped-fruit gum, Fruit Roll-Ups
- OTHER DECORATIONS: Ice cream sugar cones, cutout butter cookie, pretzel stick, miniature pretzels
- In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the molasses, egg, ginger, cloves and salt. Gradually add flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough forms a ball.
- Turn dough onto a floured surface; knead until smooth but not sticky, adding flour if needed. Cover and chill for several hours or overnight.
- Meanwhile, cut out patterns. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly grease the foil. Lay a damp towel on the counter; place prepared pan on towel (to prevent slipping). Using a heavily-floured rolling pin, roll out half of dough onto the baking sheet into an 1/8-in. thick rectangle. Position patterns at least 1/2 in. apart on dough. Cut out two of each pattern with a sharp knife or pizza cutter; remove pattern. Remove dough scraps; cover and save to re-roll if needed.
- Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until edges just begin to brown. Do not overbake. Remove from oven; immediately place patterns on dough. Cut around the edges,trimming off excess cookie if necessary. Cool for 10 minutes or until pieces begin to set. Carefully remove to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough and patterns. Dough scraps may be cut into gingerbread people and used to decorate house.
- In a bowl, beat the confectioners' sugar, meringue powder and 4 tablespoons water on low until blended. Beat on high for 8-10 minutes or until stiff peaks form, adding additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed. Place a damp paper towel over icing bowl and cover tightly until ready to use.
- To assemble the house frame: Test your cookie pieces to make sure they fit together snugly. If necessary, carefully trim with a serrated knife. Insert the round pastry tip into the pastry bag; add icing. Pipe a 3/8-in. wide strip of icing onto the bottom edge of the front piece. Position on a covered board at least 3-in. from the front edge of the base. Prop with spice jars for 2-3 minutes or until icing is completely set; remove jars.
- To add the sides and the back: Pipe icing on the lower edge of one side piece and along one side edge of the front piece. Align pieces at a right angle, making sure they are as tight as possible. Repeat with the other side. Pipe icing on the bottom and side edges of the back piece; position with the other assembled pieces. For added stability, pipe icing along the inside edges of all pieces and corners.
- To assemble the roof: Working with one side at a time, pipe icing along the top edges of the front, back and side pieces. Carefully place one roof piece so the roof's peak is even with the points of the front and back (there will be a small overhang front and back.) Repeat. Let dry completely.
- To decorate: With icing, attach mints to roof. For chimney, stack caramels along one side of house, using icing as mortar; top with an icing "smoke plume".
- For trees and wreath, add green food coloring to a portion of icing. Frost sugar cones and butter cookie; decorate with red-hots and sprinkles. Referring to photo and using candies and other decorations, add the trees, wreath, doorway, windows, shutters, walkway, logs, mailbox and fence. Yield: 1 house.
Originally published as Ellen's Edible Gingerbread House in Country Woman Christmas 1996, p45
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