Mr O’s been stressed lately with an impending final exam in quantitative statistics (…but then again, who wouldn’t?) so I thought I’d cheer him up with a gingerbread house.  I had made one a few years ago using a recipe I found online and it turned out quite well so I thought I’d use it again.

Instead of  molasses, it asks for instant butterscotch pudding mix so it’s not as strong as regular gingerbread… which is fine with me because I’m not a big fan of real gingerbread myself.  The recipe is as follows:

  • 1 package of butterscotch instant pudding mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon

In a bowl, cream together the pudding mix, butter and sugar until it’s somewhat smooth.  Then add in the egg until it’s well mixed.  In another bowl, sift together the remainder of the ingredients and then slowly mix it into the pudding mixture.

Now the important thing is to knead like you’ve never kneaded before!  The dough’s gonna look reaaaal crumbly, but you gotta persevere!  I probably had to knead the dough for a good 10 minutes before it turned out into a smooth ball.  It’ll still look kinda crackly, but it’ll have a nice greasy gloss to it.  Cover the dough up in saran wrap and stick it into the fridge for about an hour to chill.

ball o' dough

Due to space restrictions, I prefer to only work with half the dough at a time, leaving the other half still in the fridge.  Roll the dough out on a lightly floured board until it’s roughly 1/8th inch thick, then cut out your shapes using your template (or cookie cutters if you’re not opting to make a house.)  Lay the shapes out onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a 350F preheated oven for about 10-12 minutes… pretty much until the edges start to turn golden.  Let the cookie cool on wire racks.  If you’re making this recipe for the purpose of making cookies, you can pretty much eat them whenever they’ve fully cooled.  But if you’re gonna make a house, you have to let the cookies sit overnight to dry out.

ready for construction!

Due to the lack of molasses in the recipe, you actually don’t need very long to let the cookie pieces dry out.  Just 1 day will do, in fact.  On the day you’re ready to assemble the house, make some royal icing to glue the construction together.  This is the one I use:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 4-5 cups icing sugar

Super simple eh?  Just whip the egg whites until they’ve turned just past the point of foaminess, like liquidy whipped cream.  Then slowly add in the icing sugar, whipping until the mixture is nice and glossy and able to hold peaks.  Use your discretion on how much sugar to use.  The recipe officially asks for 5 cups, but where I’m living and the dryness in the air I really only needed 4 cups before the icing turned so thick that my mixer threatened to break apart.

Throw the mess into a piping bag (I use a ziplocked bag with a corner trimmed off) and begin the assembly!  Use your imagination… I don’t imagine you’ll need me to walk you through this step ;)

...the unglamorous side of gingerbread houses...

...raising the roof!

Let the house sit for at least another hour to allow for the icing to harden.  Then the fun begins!  Get your children and significant others and decorate with all the candy you can find.  Have fun and make sure to take plenty of pictures of it before the roof “mysteriously” begins to disappear!

decorations in progress...

...making a pathway...

...our house, is a very very very fine house...