How to Make a Cookie House Villagecomments (8) December 15th, 2012
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 along the remaining three edges at the back of the house.
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.
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.
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.
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 each house to the board with a bit of 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.)
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.
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.
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...
...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!
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery
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