In a departure from the classic gingerbread-and-gumdrops house, this miniature replica of the Little House on Martha's farm is subtly Scandinavian in style. Its blond walls are made of sugar-cookie dough flavored with Earl Grey tea; the lit-from-within windows get their glow from caramel and LED votives placed underneath. Fresh rosemary and thyme were used to make the surrounding greenery garnishes. Before beginning, print and cut out the templates here. Note that you need to make two separate batches of caramel—one for the windows, and another to glue the walls of the house together.

Gallery

Pernille Loof

Recipe Summary

prep:
2 hrs
total:
5 hrs
Yield:
Makes 1
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Cottage: Let dough stand at room temperature until pliable. On separate lightly floured pieces of parchment, roll out each rectangle of dough about 1/8 inch thick. Transfer dough on parchment to baking sheets and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.

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  • Place templates on top; cut out all shapes with a sharp paring knife. Transfer panels to parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until firm. Meanwhile, reroll scraps 1/8-inch thick and refrigerate until firm. Using a ruler and a pizza cutter or sharp paring knife, slice 20 "timbers," each 1/4-inch thick, from rerolled dough.

  • Transfer timbers to another parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. (Try to arrange timbers to be as straight as possible; if too soft, refrigerate until firm, then transfer to sheet.)

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Using the side of a ruler, score 9 horizontal lines on each roof piece of dough (making an impression but not cutting all the way through). Using the dull side of a butter knife, create "shingles" by making vertical marks every 1/2 inch, staggering with each row.

  • Bake 2 sheets of panels at a time, rotating once, until edges turn light golden, 14 to 16 minutes. Bake timbers until edges turn light golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer baked pieces to a wire rack; let cool completely.

  • Caramel Windows and Door Pane: Place 2 wall templates and front template under parchment or 2 silicone baking mats (for added texture); this will be your guide. Pour 1/2 cup water into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved and syrup is clear.

  • Continue to cook, without stirring, but washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush two or three times to prevent crystals from forming, until syrup comes to a boil. Let boil, swirling pan occasionally, until light amber, 7 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat.

  • Using a small dry measuring cup, pour enough caramel onto parchment to extend about 1/2 inch beyond each window or door frame on template. Let cool completely, about 15 minutes.

  • Fill a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (such as Ateco #4) with royal icing. Using a serrated knife, gently cut timbers with a sawing motion to create design for each panel. (Refer to template.) Pipe back of each timber with royal icing; attach in place. Pipe a thin line of royal icing around perimeter of each caramel window or door pane; press gently to secure to inside of corresponding panel. Let icing set completely, about 1 hour.

  • Assembly: Make another batch of caramel, following instructions in step 3. Dip one side edge of a wall panel in it; allow excess to drip off. Working quickly (before caramel hardens), join coated edge of wall panel to front panel, forming a corner; press firmly to adhere. Repeat with remaining wall panel and back panel. (You will now have 2 corner pieces.)

  • Using a pastry brush, brush edge of each wall panel with caramel; press firmly to adhere to front and back panels. (You will now have a square house; if at any point during assembly caramel begins to harden, gently reheat over low.) Brush more caramel over top edges of back and front panel. Immediately attach roof pieces to coated panels, making sure they are centered and evenly aligned (there should be an overhang of about 1/2 inch). Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.

  • Transfer cottage to a large platter or cake stand. To illuminate, set LED votives inside. Pour sanding sugar around cottage, creating deeper "snowdrifts" by walls. Sift confectioners' sugar over roof. Arrange rosemary trees and gum-paste mushrooms around cottage. Hang thyme wreath using bakers' twine or fishing line.

Cook's Notes

You can purchase the gum-paste mushrooms seen in the photo at jasonschreiber.com.

To make rosemary trees, group together 3 or 4 thick-stemmed rosemary sprigs; wrap with floral wire 1/2 inch from base of stems. Trim woody ends so they're even. Flip upside- down to create tree. Trim leafy ends so tree stands upright. Repeat with more rosemary. 

To make a thyme wreath, layer several sprigs of thyme, overlapping at ends slightly to create a garland 8 inches long. Wrap with floral wire; twist into a wreath. Once hung on house, add peppercorns (as “berries”).

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