Have a magical afternoon with your family creating this sweet little cottage. It is a fun kid-made surprise to bring to Grandma's house, too! —Blanche Comiskey, Franklin, Wisconsin
- 1 cup shortening
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 cup dark molasses
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- ICING AND ASSEMBLY:
- 16 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
- 12 tablespoons meringue powder, divided
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar, divided
- 1-1/2 cups warm water, divided
- 14 red spice gumdrops
- 8 large candy canes (6 inches), divided
- Multicolored nonpareils
- 1 red-hot candy
- 18 leaf-shaped spearmint gumdrops, divided
- About 150 multicolored spice gumdrops, halved vertically
- Edible glitter
- 10 ice cream sugar cones
- Green paste food coloring
- 30 chocolate rock candies
- 21 pieces candy corn in Christmas colors or green gumdrops
- 8 miniature candy canes (about 2-1/4 inches)
- 10 green spice gumdrops
- 4 green rock candy suckers
- 1 large cotton ball
- Pastry tipsstar tips #16 and #20, round tips #3 and #7, and leaf tip #67
- Pastry bags
- Foam core board (20 inches x 16 inches x 1/2 inch)
- Small cans for propping
- In a large bowl, combine shortening and water. Add brown sugar and molasses; mix well. Combine flour, salt, baking soda and spices; beat into molasses mixture until blended. Divide into three portions; chill overnight.
- Trace the full patterns onto waxed paper; cut out. Trace the remaining (halved) patterns onto waxed paper as directed on the patterns; cut out.
- With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll one portion of dough to 1/8-in. thickness directly onto a lightly greased and floured baking sheet. With a sharp knife, cut out two front/back house pieces. On one piece, score window and door.
- Roll out second portion of dough. Cut out two 8-1/2-in. x 6-in. rectangles for roof.
- Roll out third portion of dough. Position house side pattern on dough; cut out two pieces. On each piece, score two window outlines. Cut out one 2-3/8-in. x 1-3/8-in. rectangle for left side of chimney and a 1-3/8-in. x 7/8-in. rectangle for right side of chimney. Roll out scraps to cut out patterns for sides of chimney; sides and roof of porch; and front, sides and roofs of dormers. Score dormer window outlines.
- Bake at 375° for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 2 minutes; place patterns over baked dough and trim. Cut out door and windows completely. (Set aside door cutout; discard window cutouts.) Cool on wire racks.
- To make icing: Prepare only one batch of icing at a time. For each batch, in a large bowl, combine 4 cups confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons meringue powder, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 6 tablespoons water. Beat on low speed for 5-10 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Place a damp cloth over bowl and cover tightly between uses.
- To assemble frame of house: Place front and sides of house and fronts of dormers on a waxed paper-lined flat surface. Cut a small hole in a corner of a pastry bag; insert star tip #16. Fill two-thirds full with icing. Pipe curtains in the house and dormer windows. Outline frames of windows and doorway with round tip #3.
- For shutters, roll out 10 red gumdrops to 1/16-in. thickness; cut each into a 1-1/8-in. x 3/8-in. rectangle. Roll out four red gumdrops for dormer shutters; cut each into a 7/8-in. x 1/4-in. rectangle. Attach house and dormer shutters with a dab of icing on each side of windows.
- Using tip #16, pipe decorative trim on the front and back rooflines and peaks of the house, taking care to avoid the edges. Let dry completely.
- Pipe icing along base and one side of front wall and the adjoining side wall. Place at right angles to each other on foam core board and position with front of house 6-1/4-in. from one narrow side of board; prop with small cans. Pipe icing along inside and outside edges for added stability. Repeat with second side section and back. Let dry completely.
- Cut 3-1/2-in. pieces from the straight end of four large candy canes (set aside curved ends for another use). Pipe icing along each outside corner of house with star tip #20; press straight candy cane pieces into each corner. Let dry completely, about 4 hours.
- For dormers: Insert tip #16 into pastry bag; fill two-thirds full with icing. Pipe icing along one side of front of dormer and one adjoining side wall. Position at right angles to each other and place on waxed paper; pipe icing along inside edge for added stability. Hold in place until secure. Repeat with second side. Repeat for second dormer. Let dry completely with front side up.
- To assemble roof: Generously pipe icing along top edges of house. Position roof pieces so there is a 5/8-in. overhang in front and back. Pipe icing along the joining edges. Prop bottom of roof pieces with cans until roof is completely dry.
- On right roof piece, position one dormer 1-1/2 in. from left side, 1-1/2 in. up from the bottom and above the lower window, aligning so dormer front is perpendicular to board. Pipe dots of icing to mark the position of bottom dormer corners. Pipe icing onto back edges of dormer; attach to roof. Hold in place until secure, about 1 minute. Repeat with second dormer. Let dry completely.
- Attach dormer roofs with icing so there is a 1/4-in. overhang in front. Cut two 2-in. straight pieces from candy canes. Pipe icing along top edge of dormer roofs; press straight candy cane pieces into each. Let dry completely.
- For chimney and door: Spread chimney pieces and door with icing; dip into multicolored nonpareils. With tip #3, pipe a dot of icing on door and attach red-hot for the handle. Let dry. Pipe icing along left edge and bottom of door; position door so it is ajar.
- Using tip #16 and icing, attach chimney pieces to plain side of roof, positioning the back chimney piece 1-1/2 in. from back edge of roof and working clockwise with remaining pieces. Pipe icing around top of chimney and along chimney seams. Cut one 5-in. piece and one 1-1/4-in. piece from the straight ends of two candy canes. Pipe icing along top edge between roof pieces; press straight pieces into icing.
- For porch: Place porch roof smooth side down on a work surface. To attach sides, pipe icing along the long side of each triangle and position against porch roof. Invert to dry.
- For porch support posts, cut two 2-3/4-in. straight pieces from candy canes. Insert each into a leaf-shaped spearmint gumdrop; position 1 in. from house and 3 in. apart on each side of doorway. Secure gumdrops with icing. Let dry. Attach porch roof to posts and house with icing; prop with small cans and let dry.
- To decorate roof: With tip #20, pipe two rows of icing along bottom of chimney side of roof. Press five different colored halved gumdrops into icing in a row; repeat until one horizontal row is finished. Begin the second row with the second color from row one. Repeat nine times, slightly overlapping each row until one roof piece is covered with a diagonally patterned design.
- On dormer side of roof and starting at bottom edge, repeat procedure for gumdrop shingles. Attach gumdrops to the dormer and porch roofs in the same pattern as roof of house. Pipe icing onto sides of porch roof. Let dry.
- For finishing touches: Using round tip #7, pipe icing icicles. Sprinkle with edible glitter.
- To make trees, use a serrated knife to carefully score and cut ice cream cones to desired heights. Tint a portion of icing with green food coloring. Using leaf tip #67 and beginning at bottom of ice cream cones, pipe icing in rows; sprinkle with edible glitter. Place on waxed paper to harden. Using tip #7, pipe snow on the trees and sprinkle with edible glitter. Set aside.
- For curved path, using tip #20 and beginning at the door, pipe icing in a zigzag pattern. Press chocolate rock candies 1/8 in. apart onto pathway. Position candy corn, point side up, along both sides of path. Working in small sections, frost base with icing for snow and sprinkle with edible glitter.
- For each corner fence, use tip #7 and white icing to attach two miniature candy canes to board. Arrange trees on base along with green gumdrops, rock candy suckers and remaining leaf-shaped gumdrops for bushes; secure with icing. For smoke, pull and stretch the cotton ball; attach with icing to inside of chimney. Yield: 1 gingerbread house.
Originally published as Gingerbread Christmas Cottage in Country Woman Christmas Annual 2006, p18
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