Gingerbread Houses part 1: Construction

We are better! Everyone was feeling fine today. Our family has been sick since before Thanksgiving, so we’ll be playing catch-up this week with some of our favorite holiday activities.

Last year we made gingerbread houses for the first time. Everyone had so much fun that we immediately decided it should become a yearly tradition.

Here is a photo from last year:

I constructed the houses tonight. They need to be made in advance so that the frosting can harden. The kids aren’t that interested in building them anyway. They just want to frost them and put the candy on!

My three year old asked for a gingerbread square tonight while I was putting the houses together. After tasting it, he said, “This doesn’t taste like gingerbread! This tastes like a graham cracker!” That’s because it is a graham cracker! I don’t buy the fancy kits that cost a lot of money. We make our houses out of a box of graham crackers and homemade frosting.

First, make a batch of frosting.

1 lb. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3 Tbsp. milk

Blend the butter and powdered sugar on low until combined. Add the vanilla and milk. If the frosting is thin and runny, add more powdered sugar. If it is too thick to work with, add a bit more milk.

For one house, I use 6 Graham crackers. They need a stable surface for transporting, so I use a piece of sturdy cardboard covered in aluminum foil. You could also use cookie sheets if you are willing to give them up for a few days.

Cover the edges of the first cracker in frosting, all the way around. Lay it on the foil. Place one cracker on each long side of the base, so that the cracker rests on the cardboard surface (not on top of the base cracker) and press the crackers against the frosted surface of the base cracker. You may need to add additional frosting onto the sides where they touch the base…it takes a thick coat!

Break the next cracker in half and position one half on each end, using the same method. Place some of the frosting in a ziploc bag and cut off one corner. Squeeze a line of frosting down each seam where one cracker joins another, both inside and outside of the house.

Squeeze a bead of frosting around the base cracker where it meets the aluminum foil as well, for extra stability.

Set the house aside for about an hour to harden, so that it is easier to apply the roof. I made four houses tonight. By the time I was done with the 4th, the frosting on the 1st was set so I could move right on to placing the roof.

Cover the top edge of the two long sides with frosting. Place a long graham cracker on each edge, leaning them toward one another so that they meet in the shape of a V. Squeeze a bead of frosting on the seam where the two crackers meet.

If your crackers aren’t crumbly, you could probably cut half a cracker in half again so that you’d have two triangles for the ends of the roof. Mine broke every time I tried it. Instead, I cut triangles out of a cardboard carton and covered the back with frosting, sticking that on to the roof. Pipe a bead of frosting around all the edges where the cardboard meets the cracker. Tomorrow this whole thing is going to be covered with frosting and candy, and no one need know that part of the roof was constructed out of cardboard!

Set the houses aside to dry. When you are ready to attach the candies, make another batch of frosting using the same recipe as above (I’ll probably double that recipe to have enough frosting for four kids). Give each child their own ziploc bag and a work station with a variety of candy. I went to a Farmer’s Market and bought a bunch of vintage candies. I’m so excited about tomorrow!

Comments

  1. So glad everyone is feeling better! This was a fun post to read. We love making graham cracker ginger-bread houses; I’ve been making them since I was a kid. We have always used a small milk carton (about the school-lunch milk carton size) to help support the structure. We ice the crackers to the carton and then decorate with LOTS of candy. Attaching, and eating, the candy is always the kids’ favorite part. Enjoy! -Jennifer in NoVA

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  1. […] that they put at least as much candy on the house as they do in their mouths! As I wrote in Gingerbread Houses: Construction, I had trouble making part of the roof and used cardboard. It didn’t stick that well on a […]

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