Our First Annual Gingerbread House

We have been talking about making a Gingerbread House this year.  Not using a traditional Gingerbread kit, but instead making our own design with our own templates.  Both Hubby and I have always wanted to make gingerbread houses growing up, but for whatever reason, we never got the chance to.  So we finally did it and it is now going to be one of our household Christmas traditions.  Even though we made a humongous mess, it was totally worth every speck of powdered and sugar and dried icing that I had to scrub off of our table and floor, and every piece of candy that I had to chase down the cats to get.  It turned out even better than we had imagined.  This post will pretty much be a step-by-step tutorial of how we made the house.  Complete with lots of pictures.

First, we made the gingerbread.  Lots and lots of gingerbread.  The gingerbread recipe I used can be found here.  I didn't use the templates on this site, but I'm sure they would work just fine.  We made our own measurements and cut them out of paper bags.  We rolled out the mixed dough to about 1/4 inch thick onto parchment paper, and then cut out the templates with a sharp knife.  We then baked them according the recipe.  They pretty much kept their shape during baking, warping just a tad.

After they are baked and completely cooled, like layed out for multiple hours (we kept them out overnight)  then you can very carefully flip them over and peel off the parchment paper.  When we baked and cut out pieces, we made a few extra pieces to make extra support for the inside of the house.
For our glue, to hold the house together, we made homemade caramel instead of using royal icing.  (to make the caramel, All I did was dump some sugar in a pan and heat it on high until it caramelizes).  Working quickly, we dipped edges of the house into the hot caramel, and then connected it together.

We glued a chocolate bar onto the edge of the doorway, and added a porch in front.  Some of the walls did not completely touch in all places because of a little bit of warping during baking, so we ended up having to use some icing piping to connect them.

It's coming together!  The platform is also just a thin board that is covered with rolled fondant (forgot to mention that earlier)

The chimney is probably our favorite part of the house.  We added it on the side of the gingerbread house (using gingerbread pieces that we had previously baked), covered it with icing, and then placed chocolate rocks all over to look like a stone chimney.
The roof also came out surprisingly good.  We used Chex cereal and layered them like roofing tiles, securing them with icing underneath.  
The snowman is made from balls of fondant.  The face and buttons are whole allspice.  The arms are pretzels, the nose is a tiny piece of fondant, with orange food coloring, and the hat is 1/2 of a mini oreo, with a painted mini marshmallow on top.  Now that I am thinking of it, I should have gotten some thick yarn and made him a scarf.
The icicles were made of royal icing.  They were a bit difficult to make at first, but we got the hang of it. Using a pastry bag with a small, plain round cake tip, you make a blob while pushing the icing out, then stop pushing and drag the icing down, until you reach the desired length, and pull away.  
This is the sidewalk that we made...chocolate rocks lined with mini jaw breakers.
Gum stick window shutters, Apple-O wreath with mini jawbreaker door knob and lights on the wreath.
One side of the house finished...
The trees are ice cream cones covered with icing that is has been made green from food coloring.  The lights on the tree are the same as on the house, the mini jawbreakers.  
My favorite part...adding the snow!! We just sifted confectioners sugar everywhere.  It was awesome.
Woodpile=tootsie rolls stacked up.
We really wanted some cotton candy to go inside the chimney, but had no such luck finding any. : (
The fold-up chair is made from pretzels, trimmed up just a little to fit better.
I would like to live here.
Tada!  This project turned out really good and we had so much fun making it : )

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