Classic Christmas Treats
Different pictures of gingerbread houses will instantly show that there is nothing predictable about this classic Christmas treat. Holiday cookies can be beautiful and delicious, and a well-designed gingerbread house will be a stunning work of art for both the eyes and the tongue to enjoy.
To make your house unique, consider building more than just a house - gingerbread trees are easy to design and help give your holiday home curb appeal with whimsical gingerbread landscaping.
Building the House
The first step in creating an elegantly edible gingerbread house is to assemble the gingerbread pieces carefully. Keep corners as flush as possible, and don't use too much icing to glue the house together or it may be unstable. As you assemble the pieces, let each section stand for an hour or two to dry into a secure hold before you add to the structure. Once the entire house is together, let it stand overnight if possible before decorating.
One of the most important yet frequently overlooked parts of gingerbread house design is the foundation. You will need a tray or other solid base on which to assemble the house so it can be easily carried and moved. Ready-to-decorate kits often come with suitably-sized trays, or you can cover a piece of cardboard with tin foil or holiday wrapping paper to create your own base.
Gingerbread houses can be any size and shape, though small cottages are the most popular. Be unique and opt for a two story home or a house augmented with a tower or other unusual structure, or create a completely different type of building such as a gingerbread church, school or stable.
Decorating the gingerbread house is the most fun part of creating a unique design. The most common decorations are white icing with a wide range of candies, but for a more elegant house opt for simple white decorations. If you are skilled or take the time to practice your technique, you can use different icing shapes and decorating tools to create icicles, snowflakes, and other delicate details.
One way to make your gingerbread house stand out as unique is to opt for colored icing instead of a brown house with white trim. Use pale colors to fully ice the sides of the home for flavorful siding, and add piped lines of icing to represent the siding panels.
Decorating the roof is one of the easiest and most creative steps of gingerbread house design. If you want to be sparing with candy and icing, opt for a swooping or crosshatch pattern of icing lines with candies at each intersection to simulate sweet shingles, and don't forget different candies to line the peak of the roof.
A gingerbread house does not have to be decorated with just icing to be elegant. For a frosted look, dust the house with powdered sugar through a sieve or sifter, making the coating heavier at the peaks of the house. Then add icicles or other details to the edges of the eaves for a complete look.
Have fun with your gingerbread house decorations by creating patterns and pictures along the walls and roof. A smiling house is a whimsical choice, or you can create an entire Christmas scene that wraps around the house.
While the candies can make a gingerbread house stand out, the structure of your house can be just as unusual and eye-catching. Add a tower, chimneys, or other accents to a simple house base for a more unique and outstanding structure that gives you even more room to decorate.
Not all gingerbread creations need to be houses or buildings. A gingerbread train can be a fun alternative, or try a series of elaborately decorated gingerbread gift packages or a large gingerbread tree to decorate.
If you want to add trees to your gingerbread landscape but don't have the time or skill to create gingerbread pines, you can add icing and candies to pine cones for a natural and unusual touch. Choose pine cones that are appropriately sized for your house, and rinse them carefully to be sure they are clean. Add small blobs of icing for snow and colored candies for outdoor lights or ornaments on your "trees."
Types of Candy
Most gingerbread houses are decorated with hard candies and seasonal treats, but there is no reason you can't opt for your favorite candies instead. Miniature candy bars, candy kisses, gum drops, licorice, lollipops, sticks of gum, and other candies are all fun accents to add to your house.
Don't forget to decorate the landscaping around your gingerbread house to make a complete fantasy scene. Gumdrop trees, a pretzel fence, and a marzipan snowman are all fun options, and you can even create more elaborate decorations by adding a candy cane sleigh or skis, white chocolate truffle snow fort, or a tiny gingerbread mailbox to the yard.
Simple gingerbread houses with just a few decorations are easy to assemble and make great gifts for neighbors, teachers, and coworkers. A simple house can be added to a buffet table or tray of holiday treats for a delicious accent.
Instead of just icing and small candies on the roof, consider more unique and creative options for your gingerbread house. Sliced almonds are a popular choice for more rustic shingles, or you can use pretzel sticks, cereal squares, or even small crackers to add a delicious touch to your roof.
If you truly want to go all out with a gingerbread scene, create a whole gingerbread village. Several small cottages, a larger home or two, and a church or school can all be grouped together for a deliciously sweet scene to use as a holiday centerpiece for a large buffet or party. Decorate each piece in similar styles for a coordinated look, or let different people decorate each one for a more whimsical and personal approach.
Not Just Christmas
If you love gingerbread houses, don't be afraid to make them a tradition throughout the year instead of just for Christmas. Haunted houses for Halloween, a spring cottage for Easter, and a patriotic home for the Fourth of July are just a few fun options you can try, and each one will give you more practice to make your Christmas gingerbread house even more elegant.
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