Monday, December 20, 2010

Graham Cracker "Gingerbread" Houses

Aren't these cute?

Amelia and I made these "gingerbread" houses out of graham crackers yesterday. I've seen them before, but never made them.

We had a blast!

It was easy to do, and the building went quickly, so we were able to get to the fun part -- decorating!

You can find directions all over the Web on how to make these. I happened to check them out on Martha Stewart's Web site, which has a photo tutorial. Her adorable creations make ours look like shacks, but I'll bet she didn't eat the candy, lick her fingers or laugh nearly as much as we did!

Besides, it was totally worth the inferiority complex to read the comment someone left saying "I made these and CitiBank foreclosed on them."

Amelia shows off her creation.
You can check out Martha's picture-perfect instructions if you want, but here are the basic how-tos with some handy hints I learned along the way.

1. Mix up a batch of Royal icing. You can find the recipe in most cookbooks or on the Web. I got mine out of my Joy of Cooking cookbook. If you don't want to make icing, you can use Wilton's candy melts of melted almond bark. This is the mortar that holds everything together.

2. Use a sharp serrated knife to cut two crackers into squares (walls and roof) and two into peaked ends. Use the lines on the crackers as a guide.
Handy hint: It is best to start your cut at the top of the peak. The crackers tended to break unevenly at the end of my cut, and it's easier to fix an uneven side than a flat peak! Mortar hides a lot of flaws.

3. Put your Royal icing or other "mortar" into a zip-top bag and make a small hole by snipping off one corner. Using a paper plate turned upside down, build your house by piping the icing onto the bottom and side of the crackers to keep them in place on the plate and stick them together.
Handy hint: As Martha suggests, use a small spice jar to help the first couple of pieces stand upright. Just don't forget to remove it before you add the roof! 

4. Let the house stand for about 5 minutes so the icing will firm up enough to withstand a fair amount of handling. Give it 10 minutes if you're decorating with a preschooler. If it's not pretty dry, give it a few more minutes until it's good and solid. It's no fun to start decorating and have your house fall down!

5. Get creative! Use the mortar of your choice to attach a variety of candies, cookies, pretzels and whatever else you can dream up to decorate your little house.
Handy hint: These houses are pretty small, so look for some small-scale candy. Next time I'll have mini chocolate chips and mini M&Ms on hand. Oh, and buy lots of green gumdrops. We ran out of green because we were using them for bushes and trees.

We gave our houses chocolate graham cracker doors and windows. We used Spree for windows, and Skittles, M& Ms, mint meltaways, and colored marshmallows on the roofs. We made trees, bushes and fences out of gumdrops and added jelly bean patios out back. Pretzels became fence rails and hard peppermints became stepping stones.

Beautiful and delicious!

Mom & Amelia with their graham cracker gingerbread houses.

I think we've just started a new Christmas tradition in our house!
© Trippin' Mama 2010

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