Family Fun: Homemade Gingerbread Houses
The Christmas season can be hectic and chaotic - to say the least. So when there's time to spend as a family, you don't want to be finishing up your shopping, gift wrapping, or running errands. Christmas is such a fun and magical time for children, and it's important to keep them involved in everything surrounding the Christmas season.
Building gingerbread houses is a great family tradition and one of the most fun ways to keep kids entertained and engaged during this busy time of year and it can be a long, drawn out afternoon if you plan it that way! There a lot of different ways to make gingerbread houses - prefabricated houses that kids can decorate, graham crackers and icing, gingerbread kits, and my personal favorite - homemade.
Homemade houses - by no means - are the prettiest, most perfect gingerbread houses. So if you are Type A and OCD about how the house looks when you're complete, use a kit! Personally, there's nothing better than smelling the gingerbread baking in the oven on a cold winter's day. It's easy to make, and you can find gingerbread house cookie molds or cutters at a lot of kitchen-ware stores and Amazon.
Instead of having candy all over the place while you are decorating, I find that using a cupcake pan works great if you have small children. This way the candy stays relatively contained and it's all within reach.
Gingerbread House Recipe:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoons ground cloves (or 1 1/2 teaspoons - to taste)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
1. In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth.
2. Slowly add in the flour and water until a stiff dough is formed. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
4. On a floured surface, roll out dough until flat and smooth. If you are using cookie cutters, cut out the pieces for your house. If you are using a mold, carefully place the rolled out dough onto your mold and using a dull-edge or the backside of a knife blade, cut out your house pattern.
5. Place cut out pieces on a nonstick baking sheet or on parchment paper so the dough does not stick to the baking sheet.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the dough is firm. Cool completely.
7. Use Royal Icing to construct your house and decorate using your favorite candy!
Photographer: Kalyn Michele Photography