I may technically be an adult now but I am still a little kid at heart, big time. especially when it comes to Christmas and gingerbread houses! But really, isn’t everyone? I look forward to making a gingerbread house every year.
When I was little we would buy enough of the pre-made kits for just about everyone in my family to put together and decorate. Then we’d choose a grown-up to judge, an impartial one who wasn’t competing, that is. We had a few years that we got really competitive (even some grown-ups). The downside to the kits is that they taste nasty, so after Christmas they would serve a much more useful purpose: BB gun target practice in the snow.
However, the last few years I’ve been making the gingerbread homemade. Last year I was determined to make a big gingerbread house even though we had just moved to a foreign country where you can’t even buy brown sugar or molasses. I finally found a way to make it though, and It ended up being just as good. That’s kind of beside the point though, because today I’m sharing my original recipe that always worked great.
Anyway, what I am trying to get to with all of this babble is that I take my annual gingerbread house very seriously. Everyone in my family knows that I don’t mess around in the gingerbread department. This year I really wanted to do something awesome so, not only did I make my biggest one ever, but I put lights inside! You have to try it guys. It’s so cute! I just threaded some Christmas lights through a hole that I put in this large piece of thick cardboard and then built the house around them. Easy peesy.
So this recipe can be used, obviously, for a house or you can just make really cute gingerbread men and other shapes. Either way, it tastes really good and, bonus points, it makes your whole house smell like Christmas! There is something that is so much fun about eating a house. After I was sure I had plenty of pictures I gave the green light for all of the waiting gingerbread enthusiasts to dig in to our enormous amount of gingerbread.
I made this last weekend and we still have containers full of gingerbread walls and roofing. I’m brainstorming different ways to use the rest. Yeah, you should probably stick to a single house if you plan to realistically eat it all, or build a skyscraper and try our bb gun tradition.
So now that I’ve talked you to death about my traditions, tell me, does your family have any favorite traditions for Christmas? I’d really love to hear.
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- 1 egg
- 3 1/2 cups flour
- 2 egg whites
- 2 3/4 - 3 1/4 powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- a few drops food coloring if desired
- Gingerbread: Combine sugar, molasses, and spices in a medium saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Sprinkle in baking soda (this is my favorite part! It gets really foamy and kids love to watch it.); remove from heat. Stir in butter until melted and allow mixture to cool for about 5 minutes.
- Now scrape mixture into a large mixing bowl (a stand mixer bowl if you have it) and beat in eggs followed by flour 1 cup at a time.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F(160 C). Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and knead it a bit (it may feel really hard at first but as you work it, it will get softer.) Roll into a sheet roughly 1/8 inch thick and use cookie cutters or house template to cut desired shapes.
- Place 1/2 inch apart on parchment or silicone lined baking trays and bake for 8 - 12 minutes edges are just starting to brown.
- Remove and cool completely before icing.
- Royal Icing: Beat egg whites with vanilla in a medium bowl. Mix in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time and stir well. Add just enough powdered sugar to reach the consistency you need; a slightly runny icing should be fine for decorating cookies but a slightly thicker one is best for gluing and decorating a house. Stir in coloring if desired and spoon icing into a piping bag with a writing tip or similar and get to decorating those cookies!
- Also, if you get your icing too thick or it starts to dry out while decorating, just add a few drops of water until it's smooth again.
I used 4 batches of gingerbread to make my house/mansion (plus some cut-outs with the leftovers) but 1 batch is enough to make a regular sized gingerbread house. Also, for the icing; I just made it on an as-needed basis, but again, the amount in the recipe is a good ratio to the gingerbread for gluing and decorating. If you are uncomfortable with using raw egg whites then you can replace them with 2 1/2 tablespoons of meringue powder per white.