Make a Cape Cod Gingerbread House
For gingerbread dough:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For royal icing:
3-4 tablespoons meringue powder
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon extract
For house embellishments:
3 ounces candy melts
8 ounces chocolate fondant
1/4 teaspoon light blue food color
1/2 ounces red fondant or marzipan tinted red
1 silver dragee
3 tablespoons green sanding sugar
round confetti sprinkles in red and white
For house construction:
Cape Cod gingerbread house template
Make Gingerbread Dough
- Sift flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt into large bowl.
- Beat butter in another large bowl with an electric hand mixer at medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add brown sugar and beat 1 minute.
- Add molasses and beat until fluffy, about 2 minutes.
- Add egg and beat until well blended, about 1 minute.
- Reduce speed to low and beat in vanilla.
- Add flour mixture and beat on low speed just to blend (Image 1).
- Gather dough into ball and divide in half. Form each half into ball and flatten into disk (Image 2). Wrap disks separately in plastic and chill until firm, at least 4 hours.
- Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper (Image 3).
- Working with one disk at a time, roll out dough between two sheets of waxed paper to 1/4-inch thickness.
- Use the Cape Cod house template to cut pieces from the gingerbread dough (Image 4), and transfer to prepared sheets, spacing two inches apart.
- Bake one sheet at a time until cookies are firm on top and slightly darker around edges, about 8 minutes for smaller shapes and up to 15 minutes for larger shapes.
- Remove from the oven and re-cut the gingerbread pieces using the templates and a sharp knife (Image 5). This will ensure the pieces fit together perfectly when assembled. Let pieces cool completely.
Make Royal Icing
- Whisk together meringue powder and powdered sugar (Image 1).
- Pour mixture into bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment.
- Add warm water and mix on high speed for about 5-7 minutes or until stiff peaks are achieved (Image 2).
- Transfer to a piping bag and use to assemble gingerbread house pieces.
- Cover remaining royal icing with a damp towel to prevent crusting (Image 3).
Gingerbread House Construction
- Warm candy melts in a heatproof bowl in the microwave at 30-second intervals. Stir well until mixture is melted smooth and no lumps remain.
- Gather the gingerbread pieces (Image 1). Coat the short sides of a front/back piece with candy melts using a spoon (Image 2). Attach a side piece on either side, butting the short ends against the candy-coated short ends of the front piece. Hold the pieces in place for 2-3 minutes, or use a tall tumbler as a prop (Image 3).
- Coat the remaining front/back pieces and short ends with candy melt and position between the side pieces on the open end. Let stand until set (Image 4).
- Coat the under edges of the roof pieces with the melted candy (Image 1) (reheat in the microwave if candy sets) then place them, angled, on top. Hold until set, about 2-3 minutes (Image 2).
- Place 1 cup royal icing in a bowl and stir in light blue food color until a consistent color is achieved.
- Cover the front, back and sides of house with icing using a small offset spatula (Image 3). Let dry (Image 4).
- Roll chocolate fondant between two sheets of wax paper (Image 1). Reuse the roof templates to cut two matching pieces. Make lines in the pieces using the back of a knife, at about 1/2-inch intervals (Image 2). Coat the roof with royal icing (Image 3) and press on the chocolate fondant pieces (Image 4). Use the back of the knife again to create vertical lines for "shingles" (Image 5).
- Cut a 2 1/2 x 1 1/4-inch piece of red fondant that has been rolled to 1/4-inch thickness, and serrate with a toothpick or the back of a knife. This will be the front door. Press a dragee into the piece to one side for a "doorknob" (Image 1). Adhere the door onto a long side of the house using a dab of royal icing (Image 2).
- Cut a 1 1/4-inch-diameter circle of chocolate fondant rolled to 1/4-inch thickness using a large end of a piping tip or a bottle cap. Cut in half and press lines radiating from the center with the back of a knife (Image 3). Place piece on top of the door adhering with royal icing (Image 4).
- Cut a small arched window, about 3/4 x 1 1/2 inches from a piece of chocolate fondant rolled to 1/4-inch thickness. Create crisscross windowpane impressions with the back of a knife (Image 1). Adhere piece to the right of the door using royal icing.
- Cut a 3-inch round piece of chocolate fondant, and then cut out a 1 1/2-inch circle from the center using the large end of a piping tip or a bottle cap (Image 2). Lightly coat the circle with water and sprinkle over green sanding sugar (Image 3). Press confetti sprinkles into the wreath for decoration, if desired (Image 4). Let set until partially dry. Adhere wreath to the left of the door using royal icing.
Allow house to dry completely overnight. When house is set, transfer to a cake plate or serving board and sprinkle over powdered sugar "snow."
Notes: Chocolate fondant can be found at most craft stores and cake supply shops. If you can't find chocolate fondant, Tootsie Roll candies can be substituted. Knead 5-6 together at one time and roll flat. Cut as desired.
In this recipe, quick-setting candy melts are used as the mortar. It cuts drying time drastically, but royal icing can be used instead.