Family Fun with Gingerbread

Nothing says holiday fun than making Gingerbread Houses! Eating icing, candy and making a mess – what could be more fun at Christmas! Where did the gingerbread house come from? I did a little research will making a batch of Almond Toffee and here is what I learned.

A gingerbread house is a small house made of gingerbread (duh!). These houses, covered with a variety of candies and icing, are popular Christmas decorations, often built by children with the help of their parents. Gingerbread, as we know it today, descends from Medieval European culinary traditions. In Europe gingerbreads were sold in special shops and at seasonal markets that sold sweets and gingerbread shaped as hearts, stars, soldiers, babies, trumpets, swords and animals.

The tradition of making decorated gingerbread houses started in Germany in the early 1800s. According to some researchers (others say not true, I guess believe what you will from the internet), the first gingerbread houses were the result of the well-known Grimm's (if you haven't read these in a while, I recommend all Grimm fairy tales) fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel" in which the two children abandoned in the forest found an edible house made of bread with sugar decorations. After this book was published, German bakers began baking ornamented fairy-tale houses of lebkuchen (gingerbread). These became popular during Christmas, a tradition that came to America with Pennsylvanian German immigrants.

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Since I was never a great cake decorator, baking gingerbread houses and gingerbread people is not my forte. I found this fun (and easy!) recipe for making gingerbread houses using graham crackers. Right up my alley with no baking involved. Why not give it a whirl this season. It’s fun, easy, and Curly Girlz Candy has all the candy you need for decorating the masterpieces you create.

Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses (from Kelsey Banfield, babble.com)
Graham Crackers (at least 6 per house)
Candy for decorating

Royal Icing:
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 cup water

1. Beat together the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder and some of the water. Add the remaining water bit by bit until a stiff icing forms.

2. Scoop the icing into a large ziploc bag or pastry bag and pipe together the gingerbread house. Allow it to set overnight. Decorate with icing and candy!

 Some tips from Babble.com on making your gingerbread house:

1) It’s All About the Icing: When assembling your house, remember that the icing is your glue. Your cement. Follow the directions very closely – you don’t want icing that is too thin or the house won’t stay together.

2) Let it Dry: Once the icing is on, be sure to dry it well. The rule is to dry the structure for at least 24 hours before decorating it. It may be hard to resist, but you want your icing to be rock-hard like cement before proceeding.

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