What could possibly bring more joy to a child than to wake up on Christmas morning to a massive edible candy house? My friend Jenni and I decided that for this holiday season, we wanted to make a couple of houses to share with some of the kids at the Crisis Nursery. Seeing the crazed look in their eyes as they visually devoured each and every granule of pure sugar, brought joy to my heart…followed by a profound sense of “what have I done???” in realizing that they would basically be bouncing off the walls for days to come.
Ah…but isn’t this what the holidays are all about? Sugar highs, crashes and comas? Yes.
Gingerbread House Ingredients:
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 cup molasses
1/3 cup Earth Balance soy butter, room temperature
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
Parchment paper or regular paper to cut into stencils
4 empty tea boxes (2 per house, to use for extra support on the inside of the house)
2 flat pieces of cardboard (1 per house, to use as a base for the house)
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the soy butter and brown sugar. Next, add in the molasses and 1/2 cup of water. Continue mixing until well incorporated.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in 3 parts, each time adding just a bit of water to make sure that the dough remains soft, but not sticky. Once the dough forms, remove it from the bowl and divide in half. Tightly wrap both pieces of dough in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours prior to use.
Before rolling out your dough, you’ll want to decided on what size/shape you want you’re house to be. Here are the measurements I used:
Front/Back of House: (2) 5-sided pieces. Fold an 8×10 piece of paper in half lengthwise. Mark a point along the crease that measures 7 1/2 inches from the bottom of the paper. Go back down to the bottom of the paper and mark a point from the crease along the bottom of the paper that measures 3 1/2 inches. From that point, draw a line up (parallel to the crease) that measures 3-inches. Next, draw a line that connects the top of the previously drawn line, to the top of the point marked along the crease. With the paper still folded, cut along the 3-inch line and the diagonal line. Unfold the paper and you should have a 5-sided piece.
Sides of House: (2) 4 x 3-inch rectangles
Roof Panels: (2) 6 1/4 x 5-inch rectangles
When you are ready to bake the pieces of your house, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper and spray the parchment with some canola oil spray.
This dough recipe will make 2 gingerbread houses (using measurements below,) so each piece of wrapped dough is enough for one house. If you want to experiment and construct your own architectural masterpiece, go for it. If you’re only making one house, you can always use the extra dough for cute little gingerbread people…or make a gingerbread barn and surround it with gingerbread farm animals for extra vegan points Yay!
Vegan Royal Icing
Ok…so I have to admit that I tend to just wing it when I make icing. Especially for this project I was trying to get a consistency that was strong and thick enough to hold up the house, but not so dry that you can’t spread the icing. Here is what I started with and if it seems to thick/thin, make appropriate adjustments.
1 lb confectioners sugar
1/4 cup soy milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
In the bowl of a standing mixer, pour in the sugar and mix on low. Slowly add in half of the soy milk. Next add in the corn syrup. Continue to mix, then add in the rest of the soy milk. Increase the mixing speed to medium-low and mix until the consistency is smooth, but still thick enough to where a spoonful of the icing held upside down will not run off the spoon. It should be fairly easy to tell if the icing will be thick enough to hold pieces of gingerbread together. Also, keep in mind that as the icing hardens, it will hold things together even better.
* One other helpful bit of info: Since we live in a rather cold part of the country, Illinois, Jenni and I decided to cover each of our finished houses with a large plastic bag, then we put them into large cardboard boxes to store overnight and help keep the frosting cold enough so it would harden quicker. Worked really well! If you have enough room in your fridge, I’d recommend putting the house(s) in there overnight, or at least for a few hours.