Making gingerbread houses for the first time

When I was a wee lassy, my grandmother used to make gingerbread houses and invite her grandchildren over to her house one weekend day in December for us to decorate them.  Back then, the name of the game was to stick as much candy onto the house as possible, making the snacking to take place over the following weeks better.  I’ve been wanting to do gingerbread houses for the last few years, but never bothered to actually get my shit together enough to plan and make them.  This year, somehow I’ve completed all of my Christmas shopping short of picking up a gift card in a part of town that I haven’t made it to yet.  Feeling especially superhero-like, I convinced a friend that she would also like building gingerbread houses, and we set to planning.  Since Laura rides horses, she went for a barn.  Since I like strangely shaped houses, I went for a mid-century design.  Then I used the gingerbread recipe that I had pinned last year and got to it.  We made our pieces on a Thursday night, I assembled them on Saturday morning, and by Saturday night, we were ready to decorate.

rolling out gingerbread dough
Cutting out gingerbread dough
Storing cut-out and baked gingerbread panels

The assembly was interesting.  I learned a lot about the texture of the royal icing.  Adding too little water makes it sturdier, but not sticky enough.  Adding too much water takes too long to dry.  I also baked one of my roof panels upside down.  It works out fine though, because I covered it with necco wafers anyway.

prepping my gingerbread board
laying out pieces before assembling gingerbread house
assembling gingerbread house
assembling gingerbread house
assembling gingerbread barn
Mid-century gingerbread house setting

I did a lot of googling to find out what types of candy to get for houses, and wasn’t able to find any really solid list of what is reasonable, so here’s mine:
Pretzel Rods
Pretzel Sticks
Nilla Wafers
Necco Wafers (does anyone under 70 buy these for anything other than gingerbread?!)
Hot Tamales
Jelly fruit slices
Starlight Mints
Swedish fish
Peppermint Patties
M&Ms (not shown)
Twizzlers Pull & Peel (not shown)
Gumdrops (not shown)
Mini Candy canes (not shown)

What I found was that my one roof panel took all 3 packs of necco wafers (i would get a lot more of those things next time), both structures used up all of the oreos and the entire box of vanilla wafers.And my driveway used up all of the starlight mints.  I was a total candy hog.  What a jerk.  But I had an artistic vision, and wasn’t going to let things like friends dissuade me from completing my goal.

gingerbread house decorating
gingerbread house decorating
gingerbread house decorating
gingerbread house decorating

And the end result for my mid-century house:

mid-century gingerbread house

Not bad for being 4 drinks in.  Gotta get those creative juices flowing!

mid-century gingerbread house

And Laura, continuing to work on her barn.  She made a jump out of pretzels, and a hay bale out of jelly fruit slices.  Laura had never made a gingerbread house, and said that she didn’t anticipate getting so into it.

decorating a gingerbread barn
decorating a gingerbread barn

And the barn’s final product:

gingerbread barn
gingerbread barn
gingerbread barn

Oh, and what the rest of the people who came to “decorate gingerbread houses were doing:  watching Whale Wars!

not decorating gingerbread houses

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