Gingerbread Houses — 25 Days of Christmas Cookies

The ultimate cookie?  A house made from gingerbread!  We all remember the story of Hansel and Gretel?  The witch’s house they were hungry enough to eat?  Well, this is a house you can eat without getting thrown in a cage to await your fate……being eaten by the witch.  For the past twenty years or more, each year we make gingerbread houses.  Some years we’ve had really fantastic shapes, last year my grandson wanted a sky scraper.  This year he wants a mansion….we’ll see how that turns out.

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Reminiscent of the John Hancock building in Chicago, last year my grandson’s gingerbread house was a skyscraper.

With any gingerbread house there are no rules as to decorating except that everything that goes on the house should be edible.  We use crackers and cereal for roof tiles just about any kind of candy for decorations and usually decorate the tray with landscaping.  Fences made from pretzels or gumdrops, snow made from icing with edible glitter or maybe cotton candy snow.  The possibilities are endless.  Wander around your grocery store and look at things as building materials.  You just might get inspired.

 

Gingerbread for Houses

  • 7 cups sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup un-sulfured molasses

 

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I like to layout all my ingredients and measure them before starting especially when there’s so much spice included.
  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.
  2. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar till fluffy.
  3. Mix in spices, salt, molasses and water.*
  4. Add flour mixture, combine on low speed.
  5. Divide into four equal parts, wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 2 hours or overnight.
  6. While dough is chilling, cut parchment paper sheets to fit your baking sheets and set aside. You will use this to roll dough and transfer the cut dough to the baking sheets easily with minimal damage, stretching, or breakage to the shapes.
  7. Pre-Heat oven to 350F.  Roll dough between 2 sheets of parchment cut to fit your baking pans.  Make the dough 1/8 inch thick; any thinner and the gingerbread will not hold up.  You can cut it thicker but it will need longer cooking time.
  8. Cut into desired shapes. I use a gingerbread house cookie cutter set.
  9. Remove excess dough from around cookie shapes and transfer parchment paper to ungreased baking sheets
  10. Bake until crisp but not darkened, 15 to 20 minutes. If you lightly touch the baked cookie it will give but the dough will spring back.
  11. Let cookies cool on parchment sheets.
  12. Gingerbread will harden with time.
  13. Bake house parts at least one day ahead of construction.
  14. Tomorrow we start building.

NOTE:  Spray the inside of your measuring cup before measuring molasses.  This will help get all the molasses out of the cup quickly and help with clean-up.

 

 

Merry Christmas!

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