December 20, 2010

Fun & Frugal | Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses 2010

Our Graham Cracker Gingerbread Houses 2010

One of our fave Christmas traditions is making Gingerbread Houses (you can see some of our past creations right here.)

I used to make the gingerbread from scratch but let me tell you - that is a PAIN! ;-) Not only did I have the prep time of making the gingerbread pieces, I had to let the pieces "cure" (dry out) for a couple of days. And then I had to cut them into the needed shapes and also slice them a bit so they would be of level thickness.

A couple of years ago, I had a lightbulb moment - why not use graham cracker sheets? It's SO much easier and ends up being fairly frugal. The biggest cost is the candy for decoration but if you have some candy on (and marshmallows, pretzel sticks, cookie sprinkles, & chocolate chips), you can make a nice little graham cracker house for very little out of pocket. Since these are inexpensive and quick to make, I let all three of my kiddos decorate their own.

We made ours yesterday evening; as I was rushing from one kiddos house to the next with the glue, I thought for a moment about asking my hubs to video us so I could vlog the directions for you.  But it was just a fleeting thought - I was too busy trying to keep my sugared-up kids on task!

If you want to try this at home, here's what you need:

:: Foil Cake Pans (3/$2 at Walmart) or a foil covered cookie sheet as the base of your house.

:: Graham cracker sheets, 6 per house.  You will cut (2) in for the tall ends of the house; the rest will simply be full sheets
:: Royal icing (this is the "glue" for the house).  I use this recipe to make it.  Beware: it will dry out quickly so keep it covered with plastic wrap.  I just use a knife to spread it on but you could use a icing piping tube if you wanted it to be more precise.

:: Candy!  Candy!  Candy!  Pretzel sticks, marshmallows (they make nice snowmen), chocolate chips also work well.  Be creative - raid you pantry and freezer for ideas!

:: Last - and most importantly - PATIENCE.   To keep things under control, I do the actual house construction WITHOUT my kids help.  I can put these together pretty quickly on my own since I've done this for a few years now.  Once the houses are "dry" and the glue is pretty set, I get the candy out and let the kids decorate their sugar-hopped-up hearts out - oh yes, there is MUCH sampling of the candy!  ;-)

I added text to the photos below but it's kind of blurry.  Here's the steps for construction:

1.  Cut (2) graham cracker sheets into the outlined shape below for the (2) tall ends of your graham cracker house.  I use a serrated bread knife to "saw" through the crackers slowly.

2.  Spread royal icing on top of cake pan/foil covered base in the shape of a rectangle to "glue" the four sides of your graham cracker house to your base.

3.  Spread royal icing on all the edges of your (2) tall side pieces (the ones you cut in step 1).  Stick the base of one tall side to the pan then add (2) long cracker sheets on either side for the long sides.  Add the second tall side piece to make the other tall end; hold the sides gently and firmly together until all (4) sides are "fixed" (glued together) on your base.

4.  Spread royal icing on the short edges/underneath the short edges of the (2) remaining graham cracker sheets and along the long edges that will form the peak of the roof.  "Glue" both pieces on to the top cut edge of your tall graham cracker sheets to form the roof.  Hold firmly until fixed in place.

5.  Using the last of your royal icing, add candy to your creation.  Spread gently with a knife or back of a spoon to coat the sides.  Be careful to add candy that isn't too heavy to the top or the sides - you may need to hold it in place/add extra icing to glue it securely.

Did I miss any steps? Have any questions? Feel free to drop a comment below and I'll clarify. ;-)

Enjoy having some Christmas fun in the kitchen!

1 comment:

  1. My children both made graham cracker gingerbread houses in Kindergarten. Like you, it was an aha moment for me. They actually glued the graham crackers to little individual milk cartons and decorated around them. They turned out really cute. I especially liked it that they put them on a large paper plate and they made full winter scenes, not just the house. Like they both had marshmallow snowmen in their "yards." I like your aluminum pie plate better than paper plates. We may do it as a family next year when neither are in Kindergarten. This year, we used pillsbury roll out gingerbread dough to make gingerbread girls & boys.

    Thanks for sharing!


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