Makes 1 house
Thanks to Oregon architect Nancy Merryman, here's an ideal craft for every parent who has ever shuddered at the thought of baking a gingerbread house. She learned how to make it from Gerda Hyde, her best friend's mother. The secret to this sweet-tooth sanctuary is a cardboard beverage carton!
Six-pack beer or soda pop carrier
Duct or adhesive tape
Paper and pencil for pattern
2 pieces flat cardboard scissors
Craft or white glue
2 pieces corrugated cardboard
Mixing bowl and spoon
4 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
Water as needed
Flat-bladed spreading knife or small spatula
Candy as needed (suggestions follow)
For the roof and walls:
Chocolate kisses; M&Ms; gumdrops and jellies;
miniature marshmallows; miniature shredded cereal squares;
round wafer candies; candy corns; hard candies
For the shutters, door, and windows:
Matchstick pretzels; peppermint sticks; small candy canes;
sugar-cookie wafers; unwrapped sticks of gum
For the pathways:
Slivered almonds; golden raisins; matchstick pretzels
For the fences:
Cinnamon sticks; giant gumdrops; pretzels
Coffee grounds for dirt; flaked coconut for snow;
inverted ice-cream cones with a pointed tip,
frosted green or white, for trees
The six-pack carrier creates the peak of the roof and the 4 walls of the house. To make the carrier stiff for handling and decorating and so it will retain its shape, use the duct tape to reinforce the bottom and corners. On paper, draw a pattern for the two end wall pieces, matching the width and overall height of the carrier, but with a steeper 45-degree roof pitch on the upper section of the pattern so the form is house-like. Trace the pattern onto the flat cardboard twice, cut it out, and glue the end walls to the short ends of the carrier. Each side wall will measure about 5 by 8 inches.
Cut the corrugated cardboard into 2 rectangles: 9 by 10 inches for the roof and 12 by 17 inches for the base. Gently score the midline of the roof rectangle so that it will bend easily over the ridge of the carrier. (Use duct tape on the underside to mend if you cut too far through the cardboard.) Set aside.
To assemble and decorate, in a bowl, begin with 2 cups confectioners' sugar and slowly stir in 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water to make a snowy paste. To adjust, add more sugar or water by the drop. It should not be runny or too thin, or the candy will slide off and take too long to dry. Working on a protected surface, tip the carrier on its side. Using the spreading knife or spatula, cover the wall facing up (parallel to the table) with the icing. Put on enough so that the candy can be pushed into the paste and it will stick. Now, look at all the bought and have some fun decorating with it.
After one side is completed, let it dry. After 30 minutes, the candy is stable but the icing may still be soft. Wait for up to 1 more hour, until icing has hardened to a glassy finish; the timing will depend on the thickness. Carefully turn to the next side and repeat until all the sides are done. If any candy falls off, it can be repaired later with a little more paste.
The roof piece can be iced and decorated on a flat surface or on top of the house. If it's done on a flat surface, the icing may crack when bent to fit on top of the house, but it can easily be repaired.
Before icing and decorating the base, determine where the house will be placed, if you want to make a path leading to the door, or if you want landscaping. With a pencil, lightly draw your landscaping outline. Once decided, decorate the base using the same method described above. When the base is dry, set the house in its spot. The weight of the house will keep it in place. If you wish, spread more icing along the foundation line.
Recipes and Crafts for the Whole Family
A Holiday Celebration Book
By Sara Perry
96 pages with color photographs throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
Created 1999. Modified August 2007
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