Don't wait for Christmas — make a (haunted) gingerbread house this Halloween
I always go overboard with Halloween candy, and this year I decided to use the extra candy to decorate a spooky gingerbread house.
Making a gingerbread house is fairly simple even without a mold or cookie cutter. You can easily make one with no special equipment by rolling out the dough and cutting out two sides, two roofs and two bases. You can make a more elaborate house by adding doors, windows, chimneys and so much more once you get the hang of it. I'm including two basic templates for small houses. You can print them out or draw them for yourself. I cut out one of each piece from thick paper and use it twice to create a house.
Makes 1 house
3/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup corn syrup
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter or margarine (melted)
4 cups all-purpose flour (plus extra for dusting)
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, molasses, brown sugar and corn syrup.
Once everything is combined, add the flour and spices. Use a spatula to stir everything together. The mixture should come together without being overly sticky.
Roll out the dough using flour so it doesn't stick to you, the board or the rolling pin.
Using the house templates, cut out 2 sides, 2 roofs and a front and a back. Place the house pieces on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
Before placing them in the oven, even out the pieces as needed. It's best to trim any edges or to square off corners once the pieces are on the baking sheet so you don't disturb them by moving them onto to the baking sheet.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the house pieces to cool completely before assembling.
Royal icing recipe
2 egg whites
3-1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
Using a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and sugar together for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is shiny and sticky. This icing hardens quickly, so make it just before you are ready to start assembling.
Assembling and decorating
Assemble the gingerbread house using the royal icing as "glue." Frost the edge of 1 piece, and press the adjoining piece to the icing. Hold together for a few seconds until the icing starts to set, and then repeat with the other sides.
Once your house is assembled, use food coloring to color some of the remaining royal icing — 2 or 3 colors should do it.
Place the icing into a food storage bag, and cut a small hole at the tip of the bag. This way you can pipe the icing as desired and keep it from drying out as you work.
You can pipe the colored icing to create borders, brickwork, spiderwebs or any other details you like.
The icing is also the glue for any candy decorations. Pipe on little blobs of icing, and place candies on, holding them in place for a few seconds to make sure they are stuck to the house.