Gingerbread House Party
Gingerbread houses are the pièce de résistance of the holiday baking world (along with the buche de noel and the croquemboche), but, like these other show-stopping treats, they aren't exactly 30-minute creations.
Enter the gingerbread house-decorating party: Add friends (and booze) to the mix for a super-fun, sugar-overloaded, icing-covered night. Here's how to do it.
You need gingerbread dough, of course, and lots of it. You'll also need some mortar, aka super-strong icing. Our own baking guru, Rachel Allen, has a recipe for both.
Like an architect, you need a floor plan for your gingerbread pad. If it's your first time, I'd suggest starting small -- a 3-story Victorian house might sound amazing, but you might have to make the party a sleepover (or pick up thousands of gingerbread shards). Simpler is better, but be creative -- if you think you can pull of a gingerbread Fallingwater, go for it. I used the basic pattern in the Joy of Cooking cookbook or try the one in this PDF from King Arthur Flour.
Literally anything goes here, but you'll need more than you think to deck your gingerbread halls and snack around (trust me...this candy is addictive!). Classic candies include Necco Wafers, mini candy canes, mini cinnamon candies, gummy bears, and more. Here were some winners at my gingerbread bash:
Sour, plank-like Rips made amazing shingles.
Pine cones plus cinnamon candies made a perfectly-decorated yard.
Surprisingly, wheat crackers + Rips made super-cute windows.
Friends don't let friends suffer from a sugar crash! Put out trays of party apps like crostini, cheese crackers or bite-sized meatballs. Get more savory party ideas from our Holiday Appetizer Photo Gallery. And don't forget the eggnog!
While you're marveling at your handywork, snap a picture and enter Food2's Gingerbread Housing Crisis contest for a chance to win a 52-piece cake decorating set and, of course, eternal glory. Who knows, maybe next year you'll be ready for that 3-story masterpiece!