Tropical Gingerbread House

photo 5-1Christmas and the Islands… two of my favorite subjects!  So, I combined them into a Gingerbread House theme.  I love doing gingerbread houses because it can be as simple or as complex as you want.  It can take a couple hours or a couple weeks!  A great project for kids or a family gathering.  It’s hard to have family drama when everyone is focused on visions of gingerbread.  A little eggnog doesn’t hurt either!   I made this gingerbread from scratch as well as the royal icing.  Here are the recipes, courtesy of Chef Michele Prairie.  The recipes work beautifully!

Gingerbread Dough
6  3/4 cups All Purpose Flour (29 oz)
1 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup (18 oz)
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar packed (10 oz)
1 cup margarine (8 oz)

Preheat oven to 350.  Stir flour and spices into a large bowl.  Combine corn syrup, brown sugar and margarine in sauce pan.  Stir over medium heat until margarine is melted.  Stir liquid into the flour mixture and then mix with electric mixer (paddle attachment) until well mixed.  Chill the dough until stiff and easy to handle.  Roll the dough out to 1/8″ to 1/4″ thickness on parchment paper.  Move the dough and the paper to a sheet pan.  Cut out dough with a template of your choice.  Bake for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.  Check for air bubbles during baking and poke them with a sharp knife or tooth pick to deflate.  Cool on pan 15 minutes before moving.

Royal Icing
1 lb. box of powdered sugar
3 egg whites at room temperature or 3 Tbsp. meringue powder plus 7 Tbsp. water
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar

Sift powdered sugar in a bowl.  Place egg whites or meringue powder and water in a mixing bowl.  Add cream of tartar and sugar to egg whites while stirring.  When all sugar is added, turn mixer to high and beat until thick and very white and holds stiff peaks.  May take 5-7 minutes.  When finished, cover icing tightly with a damp cloth or plastic wrap as it dries out very quickly.

Tips to get you going:

-Plan a theme for your house and then decide on some major elements you want to include
-Purchase all your candy and decor items and lay them out on trays for easy access.
-Make any special decorations that need to dry well ahead of time… like icing flowers, trees, anything that needs to have the icing set up well before adding to your house.
-Put the walls up first and then let it sit for a few hours or overnight before adding the roof.  Reinforce the inside with icing.  No one sees that part!
-I prefer to decorate the sides, the back, the front and the roof in that order for easiest access to everything.
-Do the landscape and board cover last so you’re not sticking your arm in it while you finish the house.
-You can draw your own templates or use pre-made cutters.  You’ll need two roof pieces, two side pieces and two front/back pieces.  6 pieces in all.

Have some fun this year with gingerbread.  Here are some pics of my house from different angles.

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