If you’re like me, there are times you don’t want to turn on the oven. Gingerbread houses built from graham crackers have been around for ages, and they remain a quick, easy alternative to baking.
Build the House
To make an internal form for this house, we’ll connect two almond milk cartons with hot glue.
Rinse the cartons with water, let them dry, and push the milk spouts inside. Use low-temperature hot glue to join the them together as shown. You don’t have to use milk cartons — any clean cardboard box rigid enough to hold the weight of the graham crackers, candy, and some icing should work.
To create a food-safe surface for the graham crackers, cover the cartons completely with aluminum foil. Make sure the foil fits snugly, and use hot glue to attach it to, and around the cartons. Leave the bottom surface uncovered because we’ll glue that directly to the base.
And this is the most important step in making your understructure —- gluing it securely to the base. Don’t skimp on the glue. Often, you can pry cool glue up without damaging a base. If in doubt, use a thrift store plate for the base. I used a thin, wooden cutting board here.
Now you have a light, clean house on which to mount the graham crackers.
Make Royal Icing
To save some time, I’m going to direct you to a royal icing recipe and tutorial from Marian of Sweetopia.
You can see some of Marian’s fantastic-amazing-astounding gingerbread houses here.
Add the Graham Crackers
Use plenty of thick royal icing to attach graham crackers to the house form. Start at the bottom and work up. Score the crackers with a serrated knife and snap them apart when you need shorter pieces. Cover all four walls and the roof.
Add a Licorice Roof
Actually, I added a chocolate roof of Chocolate Twizzlers. Who can resist chocolate? Black licorice will work also, but around here, chocolate wins every time.
The Twizzler factory pinches the candy into strips as it exits an extruder. This means that both ends of the candy have been pushed flat and the corners stick out. So, cut both of the ends off. Trimming the ends allows each licorice strand to cuddle right up against the previous strand.
Now cut the licorice into strips long enough to cover your roof. Lay the candy out in a row, to check that you’ve cut enough lengths.
In keeping with the chocolate theme, I used chocolate instead of royal icing to attach the Twizzlers. Put a cup of milk chocolate chips in a coffee mug and microwave it for 45-60 seconds. Stir it up into a paste.
Cover one small section of the roof with melted chocolate. You can see below that the chocolate fumes overcame me, and I covered an entire side of the roof. Big mistake. In the time it took me to snap a photo, the chocolate cooled. I couldn’t add more candy without spreading on some more chocolate. The extra layer made my roof a bit uneven.
Press on the Twizzler strands. If the chocolate is too liquid, wait a few seconds for it to cool, then try again.
Make Chocolate Windows
Slice apart the squares of a large chocolate bar. This is a Walgreens brand chocolate bar with toffee chips. Pipe a cross to form window panes and outline each square with dots or zigzags.
Cut chocolate Twizzlers to outline the windows.
Add a semi-circle of candy corn with an orange sixlet in the middle.
Add the Windows, Door, and Tombstones
Color about a cup of royal icing light tan to match the graham crackers. I used almost equal parts of Brown and Egg Yellow gel food color. Use this to attach the windows, tombstones & ghosts (Peeps marshmallow candies), door, orange-and-yellow candy sticks, and any other decorations. My door is from a Walgreens brand caramel filled bar.
Use substantial amounts of icing to attach each candy. Big dabs, not thin streaks. We want those candies to stay put, even in dry Fall weather. The excess icing that squeezes out is camouflaged by the tan color.
Decorate the Door
A half-circle of candy corn, an orange Spree, and a line of orange large confetti sprinkles complete the door decor.
Decide where the doorknob belongs and twirl the sharp point of a knife into the chocolate to drill out a small hole. Add an orange sugar pearl or other small candy as the doorknob.
Ok, I have to admit that the proportions on this house are odd. It’s a two-story mansion but the decorations above the door and windows didn’t leave enough room for anything upstairs. My intent was to have this lend a spooky, weird, off-balance charm because, hey, it’s Halloween! But somehow the charm escaped me and it’s just looks odd. To balance things out, add a candy garland under each edge of the roof.
Orange slices are chunky, so slice them in half to create a thinner candy. You can use the backs, or leave them in a bowl on the counter. They’ll magically evaporate when the family comes home. A large, orange confetti sprinkle connects each slice to the next one. Orange tic-tacs or sixlets are great for this too.
Pipe a tan shell border around the roof. Pipe it on the sides of the house (not the edges of the licorice), then add the candy garland below.
Once again, use a generous amount of tan icing to attach the candy.
Pipe tan shells to cover the graham cracker joints at the four corners of the house.
Dried parsley flakes add just the right color and texture to suggest Fall grass. For the icing, use Forest Green food color, or Leaf Green with a touch of Black. Working in small sections, spread a thin layer of icing and press in the flakes. I always start at the back of the house, to practice the technique, then finish in front.
Add a border of green royal icing shells, a few swirly shrubs, and some gumdrop pumpkins.
Thanks for joining me, and Happy Halloween!