Many moons ago, when I was in culinary school, I made an enormous, intricately detailed gingerbread house. It was a replica of my parents home (Spanish cookie tiles, candied iron gate, and marzipan dog included). It took me weeks, and I'm proud to say landed me a spot on Good Morning America!
My life has changed a lot since then. Now, like most parents, I barely have time for a simple meal, let alone anything that takes weeks to prepare!
This adorable little version of a gingerbread house is pretty manageable. It can take less than 30 minutes, but your kiddos can have hours of fun decorating them!
1 1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg white
8 whole graham crackers
An assortment of your favourite decorative (and yummy) candies
Makes 2 mini houses
To make the icing (which will be the "glue" to build the house), use a standing mixer or hand mixer with the whisk attachment. Add the egg white to the caster sugar. Start on low to combine and then turn to high and whisk until the mixture is thick and stiff, about 5 minutes.
Spoon the icing into a medium-sized zip-lock baggie. Cut about 1/8-inch off one of the bottom corners, and gently squeeze the mixture towards that tip. You just made your own pastry bag!
(It's important to keep the icing covered with plastic wrap when it's not in use, otherwise it will harden and be impossible to use.)
You can make your house on a cardboard square or a plate.
Gently break the graham crackers into 2 squares (along their "dotted" line).
Start by building the foundation with 4 of your squares. Squeeze a line of icing on the bottom and side edges of two of the crackers and place them together on your board or plate.
Add more icing to the other side edges and the bottom edges of two more crackers and add them to make an even square.
Then apply a line of icing to the top edge of two opposing crackers and place two more on there to form the roof. As you add the roof, you'll need to add more icing to connect the crackers along the top.
Finally, cut your two remaining graham cracker squares into triangles. First hold the square up the empty triangle space to see where to cut. Then, add icing along all three edges and gently press it into its spot. Repeat on the other side.
Now you have a "blank," well made house! Add all of your candies using the royal icing to adhere them. You can also use extra icing for snow, icicles, etc. The icing takes about 15 minutes to completely dry.
(Repeat with remaining graham crackers and icing for a second house.)
An additional note:
To make a gluten-free version, I use Kinninnick's Smoreables — they're a good gluten-free graham cracker and are available at Whole Foods.