The Ultimate Gingerbread House
Gingerbread Idea House
At Southern Living, we go big at Christmastime. Enter this 2- x 4-foot gingerbread reproduction of our 2013 Idea House. To create it, we turned to Rebecca Clerget, pastry chef at The Fairmont Washington D.C., Georgetown, where she constructs elaborate holiday gingerbread displays and also hosts classes on building cookie abodes ($85 adults, $50 kids; fairmont.com/washington).
Her advice? A good house starts with a template (use cardboard pieces the shape of each wall to trace dough before baking), but then it's all about the whimsical details. Check out the full gingerbread house and use the recipes below to help you create your own ultimate gingerbread house!
Candy canes make sturdy (and pretty) supports. Cut to desired height by heating an old paring knife under a flame for 30 seconds. The hot metal will slice the sticks with ease.
Brownie Ground Covering
Crumbled chocolate brownies (unfrosted cake also works) create a sumptuous flowerbed. For a snowy finish, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Rebecca re-created the herringbone pattern of the Idea House's front door by etching a piece of chocolate with a utility knife. Etch the back of a candy bar for a similar look.
The house's wreath, garland, tree, and presents were made using marzipan, which resists cracking better than fondant. To color, use gel food coloring instead of liquid options. It adds more vibrant hues and won't drip.
Silver dust (available at wilton.com) and clear vodka were blended to a lotion consistency in a stand mixer. Rebecca then brushed the mixture on the top of the house to mimic a tin roof.