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Monday, December 12, 2016

Top Ten Tips for Making an Impressive Gingrebread House

how to elevate a gingerbread house

Here is my gingerbread house from last year. 
 I made it with my sister and niece and we had a lot of fun.

This year, since I was making it by myself, I wanted to do a fancier version.  So I started searching Pinterest for ways to elevate the box kit. I started pinning the ones I loved and here is my inspiration board:

Here are my Top Ten Tips for Making an Impressive Gingerbread House:

1.       Add windows out of crushed, melted-down candy.

2.       Put a light inside the house, so light shows through the windows.
3.       Decorate the pieces when they’re flat.

4.       Use your glue gun to glue the house together.
5.       Make extra royal icing.
6.       Add “landscaping” elements.
7.       Add “structural elements.
8.       Use an unexpected roofing material.
9.       Use candy coated sunflower seeds to look like a string of lights.
10.   Make sure you have a cute cake stand to display it on and sift powdered sugar over the whole house to add snow.

#1 - First I cut holes in my pre-baked gingerbread houses for windows.  VOICE OF EXPERIENCE MOMENT - MAKE SURE YOU KNOW WHERE EACH PIECE GOES BEFORE YOU CUT.  (I switched the side pieces and roof pieces and caused myself a lot of grief!)  Everything I read said to use butterscotch candy for the windows.  I found mine at Dollar Tree (they're not cool enough for Target, apparently).  Then put a bunch of candies in a Ziploc and pound them with a hammer until they're crushed down to powder.  Then on a parchment paper lined baking sheet make the shape of the windows that you just cut out, out of the crushed powder, being sure it's a bit bigger than each window, so you can glue it on from the back side.  

#2 - I found a short light strand that I wanted to use inside my house, so I cut a notch at the bottom of the back side of the house for the cord to go through.  You can see the notch I cut here.

#3 - Frost your pieces, decorate them - do all your work while they're flat.  If the frosting isn't working, you can always use your glue gun.  And then it's a good idea to let them dry and set overnight or at least a few hours.

4. When I went to assemble my house, I realized I had decorated the side pieces as the roof and vice versa.  So I had to get creative if I wanted to continue.  I found a piece of foam core board and cut it to add to the already decorated pieces to make them the right size.  Then I frosted and decorated...the pieces of cardboard!  Anyway - the hot glue gun worked amazing to glue cardboard to gingerbread and the whole house together.  

I made sure to glue the pieces together on the cute cake stand and to make sure the lights were in place when I was gluing the house together.

This is my house before I added #s 6, 7 and 9 - those steps add so much!

I used the rectangle I cut out for the window as a porch.  Also, for the doorknob, I used one of the round candies that came with the kit and used my gold leaf pen on it.

#5 - I used the Wilton royal icing recipe.  I kept half white and then mixed in green gel food coloring.  It says to add one drop at a time, but I wanted a realistic pine green, so I added a bunch of drops at a time and then mixed, to check the color.  #6 - To make the pine trees, you need ice cream cones, green icing, a star tip, coupler and bag.  I really had fun with this.

For other "landscaping" elements, I added frosting as snow, around the house and then I pressed rice krispies into frosting, as a path to the front door.
At this point it was the fun decorative/creative part, so I didn't stop and take a lot of pictures.

#7 - By "structural" elements, I mean anything that will add dimension to your house.  I used pretzels around my front windows, shutters out of fondant (that was included with my kit) for my side window, a kit cat stick window box, a pretzel rod at the peak of the roof and 4 caramels as a chimney.

#8 - For the roof, I used frosted mini wheat mini bites, which have lots of good texture and built-in snow!  Cereal is a good option; necco wafers, sticks of gum, pretzels - you could try anything!

#9 - Candy coated sunflower seeds are SO PERFECT as lights they are colorful and have a pointed end - just like real Christmas lights - make a special trip to Hobby Lobby or make a special order from Amazon - that's how much they add to your house.  

#10 - Cute cake stand and then sift powdered sugar.  My cake stand is from Target.

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