Building a Gingerbread House for Valentine’s Day, Part 2
Welcome back, it’s time to build!
If you haven’t already, click on Part 1 to see the first half of this tutorial where we decorate the four walls of the gingerbread house.
Question: Is the icing on your gingerbread house front, back and two sides completely dry?
If so, it’s time to build.
Assemble the Gingerbread House
You now have four gingerbread house pieces, lying flat, artfully encrusted with candy.
To cement these four walls together, you’ll need stable, thick royal icing.
So, how thick is thick?
The icing should support a spoon as in the photo below while still being loose enough to squeeze through a decorating bag.
Click here to visit a wonderful royal icing recipe / tutorial from the incomparable
Marian of Sweetopia.net.
While you’re in Sweetopia, don’t miss Marian’s fabulous gingerbread houses; click here for a link.
Load the royal icing into a disposable decorating bag, and cut a medium-sized bit from the end. You’ll want to squeeze out lines of icing roughly the size of your pinky finger.
Locate a coffee cup that can help support the walls from the inside.
Estimate the size and placement of the four walls, and pipe the outline on the plate. In the photo, I’ve only piped icing for three of the walls because we’ll add icing to the last one as we put it in place.
Lay down a placemat or soft towel, and gather your walls. They should be completely dry. Turn over the back panel of your house and lay it gently on the towel. The extra padding cushions your candies, icing, and décor. Don’t worry if a tasty tidbit should pop off. You can reattach it later.
Pipe a line of thick, white royal icing down both of the sides.
Set the back panel into the icing on the base, and press it down firmly. Use the coffee cup to help you support the wrong side of the cookie. Press a side panel into place on the base and against the line of icing connecting it to the back. Add the second side panel. If you need additional support on the outside of the house, use small cans of tomato paste or condensed milk. If you have strong, thick, stable royal icing the cans are unnecessary.
Now you have a three-sided house.
Pipe a thick line of white icing on the base. Pipe two thick lines down both sides of the front panel (just as with the back) and press the front into place.
Adjust the alignment of the four walls, and finesse it into the proper square shape complete with right angles in every corner. Remove the coffee cup.
As you can see in the photo, there will be white icing squeezing out everywhere. This is good! You need plenty of icing to act as your house’s mortar. If you think there might not be enough mortar, squeeze some extra icing on the house’s interior joints.
If you wish to tidy up the visible joints, wait five minutes then use your fingers or the tip of a knife to coax off the rinds of excess icing.
Embellish the Corners
Cut swirled marshmallow canes in half lengthwise.
Pipe white icing onto each corner joint and press in two marshmallows to cover the joint.
Let the House Dry at Least 30 Minutes
And it never hurts to wait longer!
Put your feet up, relax, eat bonbons, lose yourself in a really good book, arrange tickets to your vacation home in Bali, you know ……. the stuff all moms do at midnight or when the kids are in school.
Attach the Roof
Pipe large zigzags of icing along the roof angles of the house. Press one and then the other roof panel into the icing. Press or support the roof panels for 30 seconds to make certain they don’t slide. Pipe a line of icing along the roof ridge to cement one roof panel to the other.
Allow the House to Dry Completely
Let the royal icing ‘cement’ dry so the house is solid before you add any candy to the roof.
If you’d like to continue decorating, it’s fine to skip ahead to landscaping.
Use white royal icing to attach
gumdrop shrubs and spearmint-leaf trees,
a pink, fruit-slice candy walkway, and
pink gumdrop fences on either side of the walkway.
Decorate the Roof
The roof is my favorite part! You have so many candy roof tiles from which to choose.
You’ll notice that I couldn’t decide on just one candy, so I made one roof with pastel conversation hearts and one with non-pareil covered chocolate discs.
Use medium dots of royal icing to attach the shingles. Use brown icing with the conversation hearts if you wish to camouflage the excess that squeezes out from under each candy.
Notice that while the conversation hearts march up the roof in neat lines, every other row of chocolate discs starts and ends with a half-disc. This offsets the rows for a scalloped look.
To make the halves, score the back (chocolate side) of each disc with a sharp knife. Then snap the disc in two. You may need extra halves to finish up the last top row at the roof ridge.
You can add height and flare to your house by lining the roof ridge with candy.
Trim the edges of the roof with sprinkles, sugar pearls, tiny M&M’s, sixlets, beads from a candy necklace, or any other small bits of colorful sugar. You can also pipe a simple shell, dot, or star border with royal icing.