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For years, I’ve dreamt about creating an entire village of gingerbread houses to display for the holidays. I think there is nothing more charming than a cluster of festively decorated gingerbread houses covered with candies and sweets.
As a mother of a toddler, my creative time in the kitchen is limited to projects that can be made with little helping hands. Instead of a stressful morning of building and holding houses together, we’d rather jump right to the fun part -- the candy!
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Prepare a gingerbread dough. After it is chilled, roll onto a floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut shapes with cutters. I like to use various sizes of houses to make them look more charming when clustered together, almost like a little village. The addition of trees will make your village seem as if it is nestled in the middle of the woods. If you don’t have house cutters, you can make a template out of paper and trace it onto the dough with a knife. The straight edges of the houses make them easy to cut with a knife.
Bake the cookies on a parchment-lined baking dish according to the recipe until slightly crisp. Let them cool before decorating.
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We have plans to go color crazy when it is my daughter’s turn to decorate. I have a feeling she will be using an array of rainbow-colored gumdrops and sprinkles ... maybe even strings of brightly colored “light bulbs” made from Skittles!
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Use royal icing to create the shingles on the roof. I love using disposable pastry bags to make cleanup easy. If you have friends that avoid food dyes, this can be a great treat for them. Just be sure to use dye-free decorations.
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To give your houses a fresh dusting of snow, pour white sprinkles over the still-wet icing. Sanding sugar also looks great if you want a more sparkly look.
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The trees need a fresh dusting of snow, too!
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For the cottage houses, I used the chocolate snowcaps cut in half for a thatched-roof look. A dab of royal icing holds them in place.
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For this house, I added a “cranberry” wreath made out of a raspberry gumdrop and “evergreen boughs” over the front door made of fresh rosemary sprigs.
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After slicing the raspberry gum drop in half, I used a straw to cut a hole out of the middle. Royal icing glues the cut edge to the front door.
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To make the boughs, I used fresh rosemary sprigs. I trimmed down the sprigs until they resembled a tiny fir branch. I placed two, each going the opposite direction over the door.
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On this house, I used Red Hot candies cut in half as bright festive Christmas lights strung on the roof.
The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.
We plan to gift these to our neighbors, since they’ve just endured the construction of our newly rebuilt house. They would also look great displayed on a mantle or going down the center of a dining table nestled amongst evergreen garland.