Tiny gingerbread houses on a pillow of vanilla bean ice cream. These make ahead edible snow globes are the cutest, easy Christmas dessert in the land. 

Tiny gingerbread church in a clear glass on a bed of vanilla ice cream for an easy Christmas dessert.

Today I have for you 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 edible snow globes.

These little holiday desserts are easy to make even though they look mind bogglingly impressive. I make these for my annual Christmas Eve party, but they’d be a perfect Christmas Day dessert if your family isn’t into plum pudding. 

And if you aren’t confident in your tiny house making abilities (which is ridiculous because I KNOW you can do this), then you can make regular gingerbread cookies and serve them so they look extra special on a cookie stand like the one I made a few years ago. You can read the full cookie stand tutorial here.

Pressing out gingerbread dough onto a sheet of parchment paper with floured hands and rolling pin.

Make your favourite gingerbread dough (or use the recipe I’ve included lower down in the 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.  

1/8" thick gingerbread dough just pulled out of the oven after baking.

Bake a little less than according to the recipe directions.

For cookies, I like the gingerbread to be hard and crunchy. But for these snow globes, you need them to be a bit softer so you can cut into them with a spoon when you’re eating them.

Cutting baked gingerbread dough with a pizza wheel into 1" wide strips.

After the gingerbread has cooked, immediately start cutting it. 

** 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.

Cutting tiny house front out of a sheet of baked gingerbread.

You can use a pizza cutter or a paring knife for cutting.  Because the gingerbread is quite soft when you take it out of the oven you can do fairly precise cutting with it, like cutting out doors and windows.

Tiny house cutouts ready to be glued together with royal icing.

For a basic house shape you’ll always use these shapes: two square pieces for each side of the house & a pointed square piece for the front and back of the house.

You can make the houses as big or as small as you like.  And you can make any shaped house you want.  

Cutting a piece of gingerbread roof with a paring knife on parchment paper.


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.

Icing the front Royal Icing glue onto the front of tiny gingerbread house.

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.

Assembling golden gingerbread pieces into a house shape with Royal Icing. 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. Assembly of tiny gingerbread houses.

The left photo shows the depth of the house: almost 1.5″.  The right photo shows the front of the house, which is only 1″ wide.


Placing roof on tiny gingerbread house showing the different thicknesses of roof pieces.

 Cut, trim and shave your pieces as you need to.  If your roof seems too thick for example, you can slice the thickness right in half to make the roof a bit more delicate.  In the photo above, the right side of the roof has been thinned and the left side has not.  

Detailed shot of cutting a piece of gingerbread roof shingle in half with a paring knife to make it thinner.

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.

Fully assembled tiny gingerbread house with chimney and icing door.

Once your house sides are sturdy and the royal icing has dried a bit you can add the roof and a chimney.

Placing a thin steeple onto a tiny gingerbread church with tweezers.

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.

Collection of tiny gingerbread houses and churches.

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.

Tiny, mid century modern gingerbread house.

You also don’t have to make conventional gingerbread house shapes.  Like midcentury modern?  Make a midcentury modern gingerbread house.

Edible snow globe Christmas dessert with a tiny gingerbread house on a pillow of vanilla ice cream sprinkled with pistachios. 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 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. For Royal Icing I don’t really use a recipe. I just add 1.5 cups of powdered sugar to my Kitchen Aid with one egg white and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla and mix. If it needs a bit more thinning I add tiny bits of water at a time until it’s the 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.

Edible Snow globes

Tiny gingerbread houses on a pillow of vanilla ice cream served in a glass.
4.67 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: Christmas
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time per batch: 4 minutes
Author: Karen Bertelsen



  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 3 cups flour all-purpose
  • chopped pistachios

Royal Icing

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tsp clear vanilla If you use regular vanilla extract which is brown, your white icing won't be pure white.


  • Beat the shortening and butter on medium for 30 seconds. (whether you're using a hand mixer or a stand mixer) Add the sugar, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Beat until combined. Beat in the egg, molasses, and vinegar. Finally, beat in the flour little by little. Divide the dough in half, form into 2 discs, cover and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F, (190 C). Roll out one disc of dough to 1/8" on parchment paper into a rectangular shape. Bake the first batch for 5 minutes and the second batch for 4 minutes. (the second batch will cook more quickly) If the edges start to brown remove the gingerbread from the oven. You want the gingerbread to be a bit soft once it has cooled, not hard.
  • Cut the gingerbread rectangles into several 1" strips. Cut those strips into the sides, front and back of your tiny gingerbread houses. Glue together with royal icing.
  • Cut gingerbread rectangles for the roof pieces. They should be slightly deeper than the house itself so they overhang. If the roof seems too thick, shave off some of the thickness of the gingerbread. You can carefully cut the roof piece in half to make it half as thick.
  • Once the royal icing has set on the house, you can glue the roof on with royal icing as well.
  • Finish the houses with chimneys, steeples, or you can even create little mid century modern houses. Just let your imagination run wild.
  • Store the houses in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • When serving day arrives, spoon a good amount of vanilla ice cream into the bottom of a glass and let it melt a tiny bit. Add your gingerbread house on top of the ice cream, and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. Serve with a spoon.

This really is the most fun I’ve ever had in my entire life.  Ever.  Not just making while making gingerbread, I mean it’s the most fun I have ever experienced in my life.  Well, this and winning all of the Nobel prizes of course. 

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  1. Laura Bee says:

    These really are adorable. Take full credit & that Nobel Prize. My sister & I always bake cookies & make fudge (damn good fudge) as gifts. Twice we made gingerbread boxes to put them in. Those were fun.
    No baking this year yet. I moved, last year we only were able to get together once :(

  2. SuzyMcQ says:

    Well, Karen, I did some research on houses like this, because I saw them premade last week. They weren’t exactly like yours, but were the ones with slats that fit onto the side of your coffee or cocoa-filled mug. The cost was astronomical for them, so, being the good artofdoingstuff reader/fan I started to look online for cutters to make them. I found a number of them on Etsy when I searched mini gingerbread houses. I think your idea of baking them first is earth-shattering, so I’m going to try that, but, will use the cutters instead. I don’t have your knife-wielding skills. But, I do have a new knife sharpener from Lee Valley, thanks so much for the tip!

    • Karen says:

      Are you kidding me??!! Teensy tiny houses like this already exist?! I should have known. There is no such thing as an original idea. ACKGHAGIHADG$%%8&###! ~ karen!

      • SuzyMcQ says:

        I think the ones that are premade are in the Anthropologie catalogue.

      • Agnes says:

        It’s true. I made these like 3 years ago, used a template from Not Martha, and even made my own cookie cutters from sheet metal. However, mine were not as free spirited as yours! Love the quirkiness of each individual house. I was thinking of 3D printing some cookie cutters this year, I’ve seen a couple free designs on Thingiverse for the mug perching houses.

      • Kayle says:

        No need! You can get the cutter on amazon. It works perfectly and is very inexpensive.

  3. Karin says:

    here I sit smugly patting myself on the back for writing some Christmas cards to my families and closest friends (that’s a first for me)
    gazing at my newly aquired Christmas figurines I snagged from Goodwill and
    nodding my head in approval at my dollar store battery operated candles for the windows and my led string lights (heck, they ARE wicked bright).
    i even put up a wreath on the outside door…..
    and i dragged home some birch stumps and branches….

    and then you come along with yet another stunning, inspirational and oh so cute idea…. just when i thought i had this Christmas business figured out and wrapped up…..

    congrats on the Nobel prizes. you my dear, are truly deserving of it. in fact, i think you should get all 6 of them

    off I go, checking out the gingerbread recipe…


  4. Jamieson says:

    So creative and beautiful, Karen! I meant the gingerbread, but applies to you too.
    I hope to be nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature for my small part in this amazing invention! It may be the first time someone has actually accepted my creative name suggestion for their baby. Usually it’s a flesh and blood baby so the stakes are a little higher, but you gotta start somewhere.

    • Jan in Waterdown says:

      Well, first, ya gotta stop suggesting “Jamieson” for the babies’ names!! Sorry, just could not resist . . . ?

      • Jamieson says:

        Actually, “Jamieson” becoming a popular baby name is one of my greatest fears! I dread the day I am walking through the supermarket with multiple parents yelling “JAMIESON YOU GET BACK HERE RIGHT THIS MINUTE!”
        So yeah, I’m cool with babies not getting my name.

        PS My husband and his family are from Carlisle and he and his sisters went to Waterdown HS…

      • Jan in Waterdown says:

        Moved here back in ’83… things sure have changed a lot. I do think Jamieson would be a very cool name for a kid but what do I know? Never had any, never wanted any so that does make me an authority on all child related stuff right? LOL!

  5. Lynne says:

    Annnnnnddddd check out those gorgeous nails! 3 posts a week, means red nail polished nails. So very festive of you. You rock the Christmas polish. You go girl.

    Lynne xx
    Design The Life You Want To Live

  6. Melissa Leach says:

    You are the master of all…these are the fricken cutest teensy tiny gingerbread houses ever!!!!
    Midcentury Modern, I love it. I will make these next year!!!!

  7. Mary W says:

    Every year my daughter makes 20 or so gingerbread houses and invites that many children to come play. They bring bags of candy as entrance price. She uses powdered meringue and we build them the night before. Next day, tables are set up outside the garage (the sticky mess is unbelievable) and the kids come and decorate with punch served. Wish we had a bathroom in the garage for cleanup. The mess is soooooo sticky. The houses are just wonderful and the kids so proud. But it is worth it enough to send us to bed for two days to recover. Or maybe it is from sugar coma after eating so much candy. Your houses are wonderful AND the best tip of the year—-bake first then cut. Genius! For that you certainly win the Peace Prize. After hearing what we go through for our party, you get the idea that cutting and forming the houses after baking is worth all the hours I spend reading you. You have just saved us so much time in preparation. It’s this Sunday afternoon and please pray for no rain – no way we would attempt them inside. So you have any idea how sticky it is with 40 shoes stepping in dropped icing then candy, then sand and dirt? We can literally see the path to the bathroom. Oh yeah, and one summer my nutty cousin and I made naughty biscuits for breakfast to serve to our husbands on our traditional Memorial Day weekend. No kids and flags were flying LOL.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Mary W! I only figured that whole baking THEN cutting out the second time I made these. (I’ve already made 2 batches this year and will be making another for Christmas Eve later this week). I did it on a whim to see if it would work and it worked perfectly! Have fun at the gingerbread party, it sounds GREAT! ~ karen

  8. Su says:

    how very charming!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    The comments about these being too “fiddly” make me LOL. These people are likely the same lot that are spending countless hours, baking and decorating sugar cookies :)

    • Laura Bee says:

      ohhh, I hate making sugar cookies. Every five years or so I forget that fact & make them!

      • Karen says:

        I’m like that with roasting and eating chestnuts. Except I do it KNOWING I hate them, every. single. year. And every year I hate them and think they taste like barf. ~ karen!

      • Elizabeth says:

        I despise making candy cane cookies but, I have to do it because “tradition” dictates that I must. That and because they taste good :)

  10. A Guy says:

    I am disappointed. The doors and windows do not open and close.

  11. Tigersmom says:

    “If your gingerbread starts to harden WORK MORE QUICKLY.” Bwahahahahahahahaha!

  12. Suzanne says:

    Once again, Karen, you impress me. Your sense of humour makes my day every time. This is something I would probably do had I the time and p a t i e n c e! That’s the prize I would give you!

  13. Jenny W says:

    Your pic of these tiny creations popped up on my Facebook feed this morning, and I was intrigued. They are truly delightful! – and I never use that word :) Far too delightful to serve to my unruly crowd over the holidays, as they are more of a trifle, dump cake, store bought pie kind of crowd lol!

  14. Dede says:

    Just awesome Karen! I’m totally ripping this off and taking all the credit and prizes. It would be good with chopped coconut sprinkled all over for more snow.

  15. catt says:

    I come here for comic relief. Seriously. You are so fun, talented and a little nutty….which is a winning combination in my book. Being a fiddly kind of girl myself, I can’t wait to make a small subdivision of these tiny houses.
    Thank you funny, fiddly, talented lady.

  16. Grammy says:

    Those little houses are wonderful. I know I’m not ever going to make them, but seeing yours makes me happy. I’m also thrilled that you took home the prizes for both Physics and Peace — you deserve all the honors, especially since you began with naughty gingerbread and ended up making churches and mid-century moderns. A body of work like that must be recognized.

  17. Rachel says:

    Karen, I hope you’re absolutely sure these will stay well in the fridge. I will have to make 7 of these the Tuesday before Christmas and I want them perfect for dessert. My husband would not be happy if I don’t make these even though the plan was chocolate ganache bread pudding for dessert. So I’ll have to do both. I’m doing Ponche de creme globes on Christmas Eve to have with pastelles and that’s final. But maybe eggnog ice cream can work too instead of vanilla ice cream? And stemmed globe glasses?
    But no peace prize for you: I will not be at peace till I make these so you need to learn that great food causes bacchanal in people’s homes at Christmas time. But thank you for this adorable presentation!

    • Karen says:

      Ha! Rachel, I’m being overly, OVERLY safe when I say to keep them in the fridge because the icing is made with raw egg whites. But truthfully, you can keep them out in the open or in an airtight container. You’ll be fine. I like to keep them out in the open but didn’t want people having fits over there being raw egg whites in the icing. Truth is though, 99.9% of people would make them and then keep them unrefrigerated. ~ karen!

      • Rachel says:

        Great! Airtight container it is. No one needs to know about raw egg whites, as long as the gingerbread retains its first day texture or close to it. Thanks!

  18. Milton says:

    Ingenious, no doubt you deserve a prize. I enjoy each of your posts. Funny, I just watched a young girl, Maty Noyes, from my hometown in Mississippi perform in Norway this week at the Nobel Peace Prize concert – https://youtu.be/6oIxXMzboxU I’ll try to see if she has any inside contacts I can put in a word for you.

  19. Elaine says:

    Wow! What a way to impress dinner guests! They are REALLY cute, Karen. Some might think them “fiddly” but the rest of the dessert (being just ice cream) makes it an easy, but impressive, dessert!

  20. TucsonPatty says:

    This is genius and worthy of the peace prize because what else makes us all as happy as ice cream and cookies (gingerbread)?

  21. MissChris SA says:

    They are adorable but seem way to time consuming and fiddly for me.

    But….I may give them a bash – my granddaughter will love them!!!!

    • Karen says:

      Yeah, no it’s not hard or time consuming at all MissChris. Not at all. You don’t even have to press out cookies from the dough! You bake a big swath of it and cut out some pieces and ice them together. I mean unless you plan on making enough for say, the entire cast of Game of Thrones, you’ll generally only be making between 5 and 10 of them. From beginning (mixing dough) to end (final icing) it would take you one hour. TOPS. I’ll make you a bet in fact. ~ karen!

      • MissChrisSA says:


        I will give it a bash – and no, I am not going to make enough for the cast of the Game of Thrones, even though it feels as though they all coming to have Christmas lunch with us!! These will be for the grandbabies of the family – exclusively………………(will have to hide them from ‘the other half’) :-)

  22. Patti says:

    I love, love your posts but would never do this

  23. Michele says:

    I’m disappointed, there are no pictures of the dirty gingerbread men!

  24. Kathleen says:

    Speechless! I don’t think I”ll be making these… too fiddly!
    They look awesome though.

    • Karen says:

      They’re really not fiddly at all Kathleen. Because you just have to mash them together and they don’t have to look even closet to perfect. Also you can just cover any “bad” things up with icing. ~ karen!

  25. MaryJo says:

    OMG, those are so adorable! And as usual, your post is hysterical!

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