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GINGERBREAD HOUSE PARTY

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Gingerbread House Party


Sugarplum fantasies and gingerbread dreams, that's what this special occasion is all about! Build a holiday memory by decorating gingerbread houses, a sweet and spicy tradition for all ages. Guests come with a few favorite candies and nuts and go home with one or more decorated houses! Use the full meal menu above or concentrate on snacks only with the top part of the menu. What a fun activity to look forward to every year!

Make It Special!

You have choices when it comes to gingerbread houses. Follow the recipe for Gingerbread Village, or for an easier option, glue together graham crackers with actual glue or frosting. Either way, you'll want to assemble the houses before the decorating event so guests can put their energies into the fun finishing touches.

Plan-Ahead Success TipsShop for candy-gingerbread house decorations up to 1 month before your event. Bake gingerbread; cut, cool and freeze flat unassembled pieces up to 1 month before your event. Thaw the day before the event and assemble. Request guests bring decorations to share. Place houses on cardboard squares covered with aluminum foil. Guests can decorate the foil "yard" to resemble ice rinks and fill with snowpeople and sleds. The cardboard also makes transportation easier. Plan for plenty of table space to spread out decorating supplies and allow room for gingerbread artists to work. Cover tables with inexpensive plastic tablecloths available at party stores. Cover the floor with sheets of plastic available at home stores for quick and easy cleanup. Place the food in a separate area from the gingerbread area; make it a self-service buffet and encourage guests to munch as the hungries hit. Keep buffet foods safe by keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Serve Make-Ahead Italian Meatballs from a slow cooker or fondue pot. Serve Slow Cooker Vegetable Minestrone from the slow cooker it was cooked in.Make enough Royal Icing for each guest. Place it in resealable plastic freezer bags (they're stronger); snip off a corner just before using. Make a bag of frosting for each guest plus some extra. Have an assortment available of tubes and/or cans of decorator frosting, edible glitter and assorted holiday cookie decors. Here are some fun decorating ideas to get you started. You'll find more great ideas when you shop!

Great Decoration IdeasShutters, shingles and walkways candy-striped or plain stick gum chocolate bars graham or other crackers flat round wafer candies Chex® cereals Window frames and/or panes square, sugar-coated gum pieces pretzel squares Doors wafer cookies pretzel sticks stick gum Siding/fences/log piles pretzel sticks (large and small) cinnamon sticks Stonework mixed nuts Trees/greenery rosemary sprigs anchored in gumdrops upside-down ice-cream cones spearmint leaf-shaped gumdrop candies Snow and igloos sugar cubes marshmallows Tree decorations and lights silver dragées (not to be eaten) chopped multicolored ring-shaped hard candies Light poles/mailbox posts peppermint sticks anchored in gumdrops Sleds and skis stick gum graham crackers for sled base; candy canes for sled runners Gifts foil-wrapped rectangular chocolate candies, unwrapped and tied with ribbon pillow-shaped hard candies General decorations round swirled hard peppermint candies; red cinnamon candies; candy-coated chocolate candies (regular size and miniature); red and black licorice bites, ropes and twists; chocolate, butterscotch and white baking chips; sugared gummy candies; chocolate kisses; flags on toothpicks

Gingerbread Village

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way! Oh what fun it is to decorate a spicy gingerbread village!

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup shortening

3/4 cup full-flavor molasses

1/3 cup cold water

3 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Royal Icing (See Below)

Assorted candies, nuts, cookies, crackers and cereal

1. Heat oven to 350ºF. Grease square pan, 9x9x2 inches, and jelly roll pan, 15 1/2x10 1/2x1 inch. Mix brown sugar, shortening and molasses in large bowl. Stir in cold water. Stir in remaining ingredients except Royal Icing and assorted candies.

2. Press one-third of dough into square pan. Press remaining dough into jelly roll pan. Bake 1 pan at a time about 15 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched in center. Cool 5 minutes. Turn upside down onto large cutting surface. Immediately cut jelly roll into fourths and then into buildings as shown in illustration. Cut square into braces as shown. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.

3. Make Royal Icing. Decorate fronts of buildings as desired, using icing and assorted candies, nuts, cookies, crackers and cereal. Use icing to attach braces to backs of buildings. Let stand 30 minutes or until icing is completely set. Complete by decorating as desired.

Royal Icing

1 package (16 ounces) powdered sugar (4 1/2 cups)

1/3 cup warm water, (105°F to 115°F)

3 tablespoons meringue powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Food colors, if desired

Beat all ingredients except food colors in large bowl with electric mixer on low speed until mixed. Beat on high speed 7 to 10 minutes or until very stiff. Divide and tint with food colors.

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Gingerbread Birdhouse Ornaments

Darling, fragrant little ornaments you can hang from your tree or give as holiday gifts, assuming you can resist eating them first!

1 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup shortening

1 1/2 cups full-flavor molasses

2/3 cup water

6 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Easy Creamy Frosting (See Below)

Powdered sugar

drinking straw

8 pretzel sticks, cut into 1-inch lengths

Betty Crocker® green decorating icing

Betty Crocker® Holiday Décor holly berry sprinkles

Gold string

1. Stir together brown sugar, shortening, molasses and cold water in large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda, ginger, salt, allspice, cloves and cinnamon. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

2. Heat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheet.

3. Roll dough 1/2 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into squares or circles for bases of birdhouses and into hearts for roofs, using knife or floured cookie cutters, each about 2 1/2 inches in diameter Place heart shape upside down on top of square or circle, just overlapping. Make hole in center of birdhouse base for door and at top of roof for hanging, using end of drinking straw. Place about 1 1/2 inches apart on cookie sheet.

4. Bake about 15 minutes or until no indentation remains when touched. While warm, insert pretzel stick just below door hole for perch. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool completely.

5. Frost tops of cookies (roofs) with Easy Creamy Frosting; sprinkle with powdered sugar. Decorate with decorating icing and sprinkles. Thread pieces of gold string through holes in tops of birdhouses; tie in knots to make hangers.

Easy Creamy Frosting4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 to 5 tablespoons half-and-half

Food color, if desired

Stir together powdered sugar, vanilla and half-and-half until smooth and spreadable. Tint with food color.

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Gingerbread Cutouts

Bring a tempting aroma and goodness into your kitchen with hard-to-pass classic gingerbread cookies.

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup butter or margarine, softened

3 tablespoons molasses

1 egg

2 tablespoons water or milk

3 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Currants or Assorted candies, if desired

Colored sugar or Additional sugar, if desired

1. Beat granulated sugar, butter and molasses in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed, or mix with spoon, until well mixed. Beat in egg and water until blended. Stir in flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt, cardamom and cloves. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until firm.

2. Heat oven to 350°F. Roll 1/3 of dough at a time on floured surface to 1/8inch thickness. (Keep remaining dough refrigerated until ready to roll.) Cut with floured 2 1/2inch gingerbread boy or girl cookie cutters. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Decorate with currants or candies. Sprinkle with colored sugar.

3. Bake 6 to 7 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack; cool.