With Thanksgiving behind us and December on its way I am ready to be in the holiday spirit. Nothing is more festive than gingerbread houses so I thought I would share some tips for making your own using graham crackers.
I made graham cracker gingerbread houses as a kid and last year I made a few base houses for Frank's nieces and then let them decorate themselves with candy and icing on Christmas Eve. It is a really fun and easy project and doesn't require baking.
To start you need (you guessed it!) a box or two of graham crackers. I have found that the best way to cut them is to lightly score them with a serrated knife, like a bread knife, and then break it on the scored line. Whenever I tried to cut right through I would have some breakage at the end. You should expect that some of the crackers in the package will be broken or you make accidentally break them so be prepared with extra crackers.
For "glue" you need to mix up a batch or royal icing. You can use your own recipe or try my royal icing recipe. Fill up an icing bag with a round tip with the icing and you are ready to start assembling. As you proceed it is really important for the icing to completely dry at each step otherwise you run the risk of the seams breaking as you put the house together.
To make the ends of the houses I cut angles on two pieces of graham cracker, put and bead of icing down the edge and pressed them together, laying them flat on a cookie sheet face down. To reinforce them I put another bead of icing on the back.
Once the ends were dried I put together the walls of the houses with two graham crackers placed lengthwise for the sides. Again I used royal icing to attach everything. For extra strength I took the trimmed off corners from making the ends and attached them inside of the house where the walls met. This added a lot of stability to the house.
For the roof pieces I used two pieces of graham cracker plus an additional half cut lengthwise. I put them together the same way as the ends but I decided to also press an additional half of a graham cracker on the middle of the back to make sure it was a strong and wouldn't later buckle. Once the roof pieces were dry I carefully attached them to the top of the house and the bases were complete.
To make a snowy roof, I coated it with royal icing and then used frosted shredded wheat to make the shingles. Overlapping the shredded wheat and varying between starting a row with a full or half piece gives it more of a shingled roof look. Also, it is best to do one side at a time so that your icing doesn't set up while you are still working.
Finally, you can decorate to your hearts content with candies, attaching them with royal icing. Peppermint swirls, licorice sticks, gumdrops and gummy candies are all excellent colorful candies to use, but really the sky is the limit. This is a really fun activity and doing it with Frank's nieces last year was a really wonderful time.