Making gingerbread houses–well, actually, graham cracker houses–is an annual holiday event in our house. The first year I thought of doing this, I offered to make enough “bases” for my son’s entire pre-school class. It was a bit overwhelming at first. I wondered what the heck I had gotten myself into! But once you get a feel for putting the houses together (instructions may be found by clicking here) it is really quite easy.
These days, I make enough for my family and a few of the kids’ friends. The houses don’t take too long to assemble and they can be made several days — I think I have made them up to two weeks in advance during the busier years — before being decorated. For a Sunday School activity, I have assembled the crackers into an open sort of building and a manger using two graham cracker quarters put together in a long “V” shape. They look pretty good!
Younger children often to do well spreading the icing from a small cup or bowl with a smooth, plastic knife. Older kids and adults can be more effective using a zipper top bag to pipe the icing. Simply spoon in the icing, cut a tiny piece off the corner of the bag and squish the icing toward the corner. Too much pressure toward the opening may pop the bag open. The icing will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Bring to room temperature before using.
This icing will dry candy-hard so it is not suitable for icing cakes. It makes perfect “glue” for gingerbread houses and may be used for making decorations, like flowers, on certain baked goods. Meringue powder can be found in the baking aisle of many grocery stores or in larger craft stores.
- 1 pound confectioner’s sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 5-6 tablespoons warm water
- Optional: food coloring (gel colorings offer the most vibrant hues)
- Add sugar, meringue powder and 5 tablespoons water to a mixing bowl.
- Beat until the icing is thick and of good spreading consistency, adding a few drops more water at a time, as needed.
- If you mistakenly add a bit too much water, simply add a bit more sugar and beat again.
- Store in plastic zipper top bags or in covered bowls. Refrigerate until ready to use.
I like to pipe the icing from a zipper top bag. Carefully snip a small corner off the bag and gently squeeze like a toothpaste tube. Better to start with a very small hole as you can always make it bigger if need be.