Elaborately decorated houses made from spicy gingerbread and covered with icing and colorful candies are a fun, fanciful Christmas tradition.
Ingredients1 cup vegetable shortening 1 cup granulated sugar 1 cup dark molasses 1 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon cinnamon 1 teaspoon nutmeg 2 teaspoons ground ginger 5 cups all-purpose flour Royal icing 1 pound (4 cups) powdered sugar 3 tablespoons meringue powder (available at craft stores) 1/2 cup warm water
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a large pot, combine the shortening, granulated sugar and molasses.
- Heat to melt, making sure the sugar dissolves completely.
- Mix together the baking soda and spices and add to the melted mixture.
- Put in the bowl of a mixer and beat in the flour.
- Roll out immediately.
- Roll a piece as large as your largest baking pan on a piece of parchment paper, then using a knife or box cutter cut around a paper template and remove excess dough.
- Bake until the dough puffs up and then falls again, 20 to 30 minutes.
- You need it to be much more dried out than a normal cookie or the house will fall. (You can easily double this recipe but it is better to make just what you need. Rolling out cold dough is next to impossible.)
- Combine the sugar and meringue powder in the large bowl of an electric mixer, and mix on low speed until combined.
- Slowly beat in the warm water (start with 1/4 cup and gradually increase to 1/2 cup).
- Whip on high speed for 5 minutes.
- You want it to hold a peak but not be so stiff that your hand will hurt when you pipe it through a bag.