Dare to Make It: Holiday

Dare to Make It:  Holiday

How to Make a Cookie House Village

comments (8) December 15th, 2012     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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You can build this village to fit your mantel, a sideboard, or a shelf—it can take on any configuration that works in your space.
Kids as young as 7 or 8 should find it easy to assemble the houses and lots of fun to decorate them.
If you dont want to assemble a whole village, you can make individual houses for decorating or gift-giving.
You can build this village to fit your mantel, a sideboard, or a shelf—it can take on any configuration that works in your space.

You can build this village to fit your mantel, a sideboard, or a shelf—it can take on any configuration that works in your space.

Photo: Diane Gilleland
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If making a gingerbread house seems too time consuming, try this easier graham-cracker version. You may want to make enough for a whole village!

What you'll need:

  • Graham crackers (about seven per house)
  • Finely serrated knife
  • One batch of royal icing (see link below)
  • Cookie sheet
  • Pastry bag and icing tips (see note below)
  • Large sheet of sturdy cardboard
  • Aluminum foil
  • Rubber spatula
  • Assorted hard candy

A note on graham crackers: There are lots of different graham cracker brands available in stores. The ones I'm using for this project are square, with a little perforation down the middle. If your graham crackers are a different shape, you may need to experiment a bit and adapt the shape of your houses.

. . . And a note on royal icing: I like this recipe for royal icing. If you plan to eat these houses, then be sure to use powdered egg whites instead of raw ones-raw egg whites are not considered safe to eat.

  Cut tiny guide marks into the graham cracker.


So, to begin, you'll need to cut some graham crackers into shapes to construct your house. Graham crackers will cut nicely with a finely serrated knife-just use light pressure and a gentle, back-and-forth sawing motion. (And if you break a couple in the process-instant snacks!)

Begin by cutting one graham cracker in half along the perforation line. Then, place this half next to a full graham cracker, as shown. Use this half-cracker as a measuring tool to make two tiny cuts in the sides of the full graham cracker. Each cut should be placed at the top of that half-cracker.

  Use the guide marks to cut a peak into the top of the cracker.


Those little cuts, then, are your guides for cutting a peak in that whole cracker. Use the knife to cut from each mark toward the top, as shown. Cut two graham crackers like this-these are the front and back of your house.

  Trim the ends off two half-crackers.



Next, take two half-crackers and cut off about 1/2 inch from the edge. I like to cut them together like this so they'll be the same size. These will be the sides of your houses.

  The royal icing should be this consistency for making houses.


Time to make royal icing. The consistency of your icing is the whole key to success for this project. Here's a picture of what it looks like when it's ready-this is called "stiff peak" stage. Feel free to add more powdered sugar to the recipe I've linked above until it reaches this consistency.

Load some icing into a pastry bag. You can use a decorative star tip or a round tip, but it should be a medium size, so you can get at least a 3/8-inch-thick stream of icing from it. Cover the remainder of the icing with plastic wrap so it doesn't dry out.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil to create a surface for assembling your houses.

  Pipe icing along one side of the base. Press the front piece into the icing.


Time to assemble houses! Place one full cracker on the cookie sheet. Pipe icing along one edge, as shown. Press one of the peaked crackers into this strip of icing.

  Pipe icing along the base and side. Press a side piece into the icing.


Next, pipe more icing along the inside of the front cracker and along the base cracker. Press one of the small side pieces into this icing.

(This might be a good time to mention that because graham crackers are so lightweight, they should hold these upright positions just fine-if your icing is stiff enough, nothing should fall over.)

Repeat that last step on the other side of the house. And don't worry if your icing looks a little sloppy at this point-we'll fix that later.

  Pipe icing along the remaining edges of the house.


Pipe along the remaining three edges at the back of the house.

  Press the back to the house. Let it sit for 30 minutes while the icing cures.



Press the other peaked cracker into place to complete the structure. If you need to make adjustments to the crackers, you can do that now while the icing is still wet. When you're happy with it, let the house rest for about 30 minutes while the icing cures.

  Pipe icing all along the top of the house.


After this rest, the icing will be slightly firm and it'll be safe to add a roof to your house. You'll need two full crackers for this. Pipe icing all along the top of the house.

  Place the roof on the house, pressing it into the icing.


Then, pipe some icing along the edge of one of the roof pieces. Press the two halves of the roof gently into place on top of the house. Make sure the roof is in contact with the icing.

Let the house rest for another hour. Wrap the tip of the pastry bag in a moistened washcloth so it doesn't dry out.

  Cover a sheet of cardboard with foil. Arrange the houses on top.


While you're waiting for the icing to set, make a base for your village. Cut a large sheet of sturdy cardboard-I'm using the top of a shipping box. Your cardboard can be any size and shape that fits your décor. Cover the cardboard completely with aluminum foil; this is very important because if you pipe icing directly on the cardboard, the moisture in the icing will quickly disintegrate it.

Then, arrange your houses on the board as you like.

  Affix the houses to the base with icing.

Affix each house to the board with a bit of icing.

  Frost the board with more icing.


Then, frost the rest of the board with the extra icing, creating a snowy landscape. You may need a smaller spatula to spread icing between the houses. Spread the icing right up to the base of each house, but keep it about 1 inch away from the edges of the board.

(By the way, I'm leaving a section of my board uncovered to make a little ice-skating pond for my village.)

  Pipe icing around the base of each house.


After icing the board, pipe some icing along the base of each house. This will neaten up its appearance and serve to firmly anchor it to the base once the icing hardens.

  Add some graham cracker doors!


Cut some smaller pieces of graham cracker to serve as doors. Pipe a little icing on the back and gently press each one in place, as shown.

  Pipe icing along all edges of each roof.


Then, pipe icing along all edges of the roof. If you're talented with a pastry bag, you can create lovely icing decorations with this step. If you're not a pastry-bag whiz, just do what I do...

  Gently push candy into the icing.


...Stick candy decorations into the icing! Decorate all the houses as you like, adding any embellishments. (I'm using mini M&M's, cinnamon imperials, and starlight mints here, but any hard candy will do.

When you're done decorating, let the village sit undisturbed overnight before you attempt to move it.

If you live in a very dry climate, you may be able to store your village (wrapped in plastic bags) and display it again next year. In a humid climate, this usually isn't possible-the moisture in the air will melt the candy over time. But it'll look wonderful throughout the winter season!

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posted in: seasonal, kid crafts, gingerbread

Comments (8)

Criativa writes: so...so...cute. Lov it!

Posted: 8:24 am on December 29th
EchoLin writes: I'm not good at cook, but i'm a good taster, i remember every good things i have ate before. I can image that how i miss the taste when i eat food like this one .
Posted: 3:05 am on March 7th
DreamyDahlia writes: I tackled the real thing...a gingerbread house...this year. These look cuter, easier and very festive! I think a cookie house village is in my 2013 Christmas future.
Posted: 8:50 pm on January 16th
Nodan writes: It is delicious and beautiful! When I see your blog, I swallowed my saliva.Huh.
Posted: 3:02 am on January 16th
candycandycandy writes: At my house, we make gingerbread houses annually with the kids. Lately though, since the Christmas season has become so busy, we started making Halloween houses instead. These are adorable; we use ghost peeps, gummi spiders, and all sorts of black and orange candy. For anyone who's interested, we usually get our candy from this site which saves us quite a bit of money.

http://www.candyfavorites.com
Posted: 11:04 am on May 17th
TeacherTeacher writes: Perfect timing for this post. We may graham cracker houses each year, this gives me some new ideas for our creations. I had never thought of adding a door like that. One of our favorites is using unwrapped tootsie rolls stacked up by the side of the house to look like a wood pile. With a bit of icing dripping down, these look like snowy logs.
Posted: 1:05 pm on December 23rd
ErinBried writes: These little houses are adorable. I'm overwhelmed thinking of a creating a ginberbread house, but using this method I could make a entire village (that my nephews would dismantle waayy too quickly). Thanks much for these beautiful instructions. Merry Christmas!
Posted: 9:17 pm on December 22nd
Average_Jane_Crafter writes: This is *awesome* Diane! I've seen versions of gingerbread villages (many thanks to you!) from elaborate set ups to simple graham cracker ones. I love these, though, because it's kind of in the middle. Still simple, but in an elaborate enough way that makes it special. And the picture of the icing peaks is like art! :)
Posted: 11:45 pm on December 6th
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