This right here is why I went down to 3 posts a week a year ago. The Snowglobe à la mode. An original Karen idea (although it was named by my friend Jamieson).
If I were still trying to write 5 posts a week what you probably would have got today is a regular gingerbread house. From a kit. That was half eaten because I was a starving, little shell of myself, from trying to churn out 5 posts a week. For my brain to be able to come up with good stuff, it needs room to move and shift and wander. Without that freedom my brain can’t function.
I get artistic brain freeze. Instead, what you get today is a winter dessert that’s so much fun and so easy to make that I’ve taken the liberty of including the link to the Nobel Prize website so you can take the next obvious step and nominate me. Might I suggest your nominations be either in Physics or the Peace Prize. Dealer’s choice. I expect to be very busy fielding calls from them shortly so let me quickly run you through how to make your own Snowglobe à la modes.
Make your favourite gingerbread dough. I’ll include a link to the recipe I’ve been using since I was 20 years old and made dirty gingerbread men near the end of this post. Press the dough out into a large rectangle and then roll it it until it’s very thin. Around 1/8th of an inch or even less. I like to roll mine out on Parchment paper. Then you can just slide the entire hunk of rolled out dough, along with the Parchment paper onto your baking sheet.
Bake according to the recipe directions. I usually bake my gingerbread a little bit more because I like to make sure it’s is crispy. I don’t like doughy gingerbread, I like crisp gingerbread.
Immediately start cutting your gingerbread. Yes. You’re cutting the shapes after the big, whack of dough has cooked. Not before. The finished houses are TINY. Teeny tiny. So cut some strips that are 1″ or less wide. These will be the sides of your house.
You can use a pizza cutter or a paring knife for cutting. While the gingerbread is still warm and hasn’t “cured” hard yet you can do fairly precise cutting with it, like cutting out doors and windows.
You can make the houses as big or as small as you like. And you can make any shaped house you want. But for a basic house shape you’ll always use these shapes. Two square pieces for each side of the house and a pointed square piece for the front and back of the house.
To make the roof cut 2 pieces that are slightly larger than the sides of the house. You can also wait to cut the roof until you’ve “glued” the house sides together.
The glue you use is Royal icing. It works great. If you’re doing a great BIG gingerbread house you can also melt toffee to use as glue.
Make sure you glue the sides like you see me doing it here. With the sides behind the front piece, not on either side of it. Otherwise your house will look unfinished from the front and be very wide. Maybe even double wide.
You can see the front of the house has a finished length of only 1.5″. The width is only 1″.
Because it takes so long for the gingerbread to harden you have quite a long time to work with it. So cut, trim and shave. If your roof seems too thick for example, you can slide the thickness right in half to make the roof a bit more delicate.
A paring knife works best for this. If your gingerbread starts to harden WORK MORE QUICKLY. Also you can use a breadknife to cut gingerbread that’s getting hard and brittle.
Once your house sides are sturdy and the royal icing has dried a bit you can add the roof and a chimney.
Then you can finish decorating the house or adding tidbits like a steeple to make it seem like a tiny chapel. Use long, needlenose tweezers for delicate work like applying the razor thin steeple. Hey! Did you hear I’m going to be nominated for a Nobel Prize? Yeah, it’s kindda all over the news by now I think. So embarrassing.
You can spend as much or as little time on these houses as you want. I’m sure you’re happy I’ve given you that kind of freedom. Normally we Nobel Prize winners are kindda dictatory. Not me though. I’m more of an “of the people” kind of Nobel Prize winner.
You also don’t have to make conventional gingerbread house shapes. Like midcentury modern? Make a midcentury modern gingerbread house.
The houses can be made days in advance. If you use an icing recipe with raw egg whites you just have to keep them in the fridge. If you use one that uses meringue powder you can just keep them in an airtight container. The night (or morning … who am I to judge) you’re going to serve them just plop a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream in a glass.
Let it melt a tiny bit before you put the gingerbread house on top. Serve as is, or top with some chopped pistachios like I did in the photo above. The recipe I use for gingerbread is one from an old Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. It’s online now though so you can use it even if you don’t have the cookbook. For Royal Icing I don’t really use a recipe. I add 2 cups of powdered sugar to my Kitchen Aid and then add one egg white at a time until it’s a consistency I like.
It should be thin enough to pipe but not so thin it’s runny when you pipe it. Then I add 1 tsp. of artificial, clear vanilla. If you use real vanilla which is dark brown, your icing won’t be pure white.
This really is the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life. Ever. Not just making gingerbread, I mean it’s the most fun I have ever experienced. Well, this and winning all of the Nobel prizes of course. I knew I was a lock for Physics, but the Peace prize! That one was a surprise. It’s really just a popularity contest so I can’t take all the credit, my PR team had a lot to do with it. It’s too bad I had to fire them for … oh …. something … I can’t really remember now, but I recall something about me screaming at them until my eyelashes popped off. The Peace prize! I’m not sure why I was surprised.