Ever since my daughter's first Christmas, we have made a gingerbread house. When she was little, we even had a few Gingerbread House decorating parties. I would make small houses and tubs and tubs of icing for her little friends and they would each bring a bag of candy to decorate with and to share.
When she was four I was crazy enough to do this for her preschool's Christmas party, and made 12 small gingerbread houses and gobs of icing. (I'm sure that the other parents were thrilled when their kids came home that day, hopped up on sugar and carrying a completely edible house dripping with icing and covered in candy.)
(Picture taken long ago, before Mommy knew how to use a camera, apparently.)
Last year, we made this house based on a picture of a cottage that Emily had seen and loved. And while it was not an exact replica, it was close enough. I melted butterscotch candies on parchment paper for the windows, and I put a string of lights inside the house for a cozy glow. Emily added the jelly bean string of lights on the roof, and I think it was the perfect touch!
Our snowman, with tiny bits of black jelly bean for eyes and buttons, and a shard of broken butterscotch for a nose.
And now it's that time of year again. Usually, the weekend after Thanksgiving, I start making the gingerbread dough. I always use this Martha Stewart recipe from her "Martha Stewart's Christmas" book that I bought ages ago. I couldn't find the recipe on her website, but here it is:
Gingerbread for Houses
1/2 cup margarine, room temperature
1/2 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
3 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/3 cup water
Cream together the margarine and sugar. Add the molasses and continue mixing until well incorporated. Sift the dry ingredients together. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternating with water. If the dough becomes too stiff, add the last bit of flour by hand.
Work the dough with your hands until it becomes smooth in consistency. Turn our onto plastic wrap, form into a neat rectangle, wrap well, and chill thoroughly.
After all the pieces have been cut out, bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until firm but not browned.
Mmmm.... I can smell it already.