This festive display is a delightful change from the tradition gingerbread house. It features a jolly Santa and his adorable workshop.—Taste of Home Test Kitchen
- 1 cup shortening
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 2 eggs
- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- Cookie cutters--3-inch reindeer and 4-inch Santa
- ICING AND ASSEMBLY:
- 8 egg whites
- 12 cups confectioners' sugar
- Red, green and black paste food coloring
- 1 yellow Fruit Roll-Up
- Pastry tips--star tips #25 and #9027, round tip #2 and leaf tip #67
- 2 packages (.5 ounce each) miniature Chiclets
- 12 Cracklin' Oat Bran squares
- 32 dark chocolate thin mints
- Covered display base--22 inches x 16 inches
- 13 pieces red rope licorice (four 5 inches, one 8 inches and eight 2 inches)
- 2 starlight mints
- 1 stick red Fruit Stripe gum
- 1 piece red shoestring licorice (9 inches)
- 5 leaf-shaped spearmint gumdrops
- 2 sugar ice cream cones
- In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in molasses and eggs. Combine dry ingredients; gradually add to creamed mixture. Divide dough into eighths. Cover and chill for 1-2 hours or until easy to handle.
- With lightly floured rolling pin, roll out one portion of dough directly onto a greased baking sheet to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut into a 7-in. x 5-in. rectangle for side piece. Remove scraps; repeat. Roll a second portion into an 8-1/2-in. x 5-1/2-in. rectangle for roof piece; repeat.
- Roll out two portions of dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Position shop pattern on dough. With a sharp knife, cut out one shop front. Repeat for shop back. Remove scraps. On shop front, score door and window outlines.
- Bake at 350° for 10-14 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes; while warm, place pattern over baked dough and recut. Cool on wire racks.
- Roll out scraps; cut out two reindeer and one Santa. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool on wire racks. Use the remaining dough for cutout cookies.
- To make icing: Prepare three batches, one at a time. In a large bowl, beat two egg whites until frothy. Gradually add 3 cups confectioners' sugar; beat on medium speed for 4-7 minutes or until icing forms peaks. Cover icing between uses. Prepare fourth batch of icing; tint a fourth red, a fourth green and 1/4 cup black.
- To decorate front: Place shop front on waxed paper. Cut Fruit Roll-up into a 3-in. x 2-1/2-in. rectangle and a 1-1/4-in. square. Spread with white icing; position rectangle over shop front window and square over door window. Insert #25 top into pastry bag; fill two-thirds full with white icing.
- Pipe small stars around door and windows. With #2 tip, pipe windowpanes. On large window, pipe triangle of icing in bottom corner of each pane. Attach red Chiclet with icing for doorknob.
- For wreath, trace 2-in. circle below roof peak. Pipe 1-in.-wide strip of white icing around inside edge of circle. Place green and red Nerds on icing for wreath.
- Using green icing and #2 tip, pipe a thin line on sides and top of large window; attach Chiclets for lights. Let dry.
- For side windows: For each window, form a rectangle with six cereal squares on waxed paper; pipe between squares with white icing. Let dry. Attach to sides of house with white icing. Pipe a thin line of green icing along top and sides of windows; attach Chiclets for lights. Let dry.
- For roof:Spread a thin layer of white icing over the roof pieces. Cut two mint wafers in half diagonally; place the cut edges against bottom edge of roof. Continue placing wafers on the diagonal, cutting as needed at edges; pipe white icing between for mortar. Let dry.
- To assemble: Pipe icing along base and sides of front section and one side section. Position at right angles to each other and place on display board. Press firmly into place; prop with small cans. Pipe icing along inside edge for added stability. Repeat with second side section and back. Pipe icing along each outside corner; press 5-in. licorice pieces into each corner. Let dry.
- Pipe icing along top edge of shop. Position one roof piece; repeat. Pipe icing along top edge between roof pieces; press 8-in. licorice into icing. Place a starlight mint at front and back roof peaks. Using #9027 tip, pipe stars along front and side edges of roof for snow. Add lights with green icing and Chiclets.
- To decorate Santa: Frost Santa with red, white and black icing. For skis, cut gum in half lengthwise, tapering ends. Position in an "X" shape; pipe icing between skis, holding until stable. Attach red Chiclets on skis with icing; let dry.
- To decorate reindeer: Frost reindeer with white, red, black and green icing; let dry. Attach with icing to roof, holding until secure. With red icing, attach shoestring licorice from one collar to the other.
- Finishing touches: For bushes, pipe thin lines of green icing on gumdrops; decorate with Chiclets. For trees, use #67 tip with green icing; beginning at bottom of ice cream cones, pipe frosting in rows. Add Chiclet lights. Place on waxed paper to harden.
- Working in small sections, frost base with icing for snow. For path, place 2-in. licorice pieces side by side in a curve. Position bushes, trees, Santa and skis on base an secure with icing. Yield: 1 house.
Originally published as Santa's Workshop in Taste of Home December/January 2002, p8
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Reviewed Nov. 2, 2009
"I use this recipe every year to make my gingerbread house entries for the Festival of Trees."