I have so many fun clients who have interesting hobbies!! Monica, whom I have done various projects for throughout the years, has always impressed me with her crafty ideas!
An accomplished graphic designer and cook, each holiday season she spends weeks baking magical gingerbread houses. Even in person it was hard to believe this was made from a cookie! Having entered and won many contests, Monica enlightened me that the art of gingerbread making is actually pretty competitive.
In the 17th century, only professional bakers were allowed to make gingerbread except on Easter and Christmas holidays when all could join in on the fun! Creating gingerbread houses later became popular with the emergence of the Grimms’ fairy tale, Hansel & Gretel, the story of two children who are lost in the forest only to discover an edible home made entirely of sweets.
The custom was later brought to America by German immigrants to Pennsylvania, and it has continued its strong tradition of being practiced by families during the holiday season ever since. I know I made one with my kids almost every year! Above, Becky Stella won first place for this Cathedral, complete with wonderful confectionary grill work and stained glass. (The ones I made with my kids definitely never looked this good!!!)
At The Fairmont in San Francisco each year, a two-story display constructed out of gingerbread bricks and gallons of royal icing entices people to visit around Christmas.
The world’s largest gingerbread house was constructed in Bryan, Texas, to raise money for a trauma center. At 2,520 square feet, it had an estimated caloric value of more than 35 million!!
But how does one get started? Monica is certainly part architect, considering the way she drew out her design and then calculated how much gingerbread and what sizes she would need. Then she started baking to create the ten walls and six roof lines for the house. Measuring and cutting with precision was imperative to ensure all of the supporting pieces match up.
Once baked, Monica arranged her gingerbread building materials into groups, making it easier come assembly time!
With the countertops covered, stretches of fondant were cut into strips to simulate black roofing shingles with a fun scalloped edge detail!
Additional gray fondant was rolled out and given two separate designs to replicate actual building materials: stone and wood planking. She used edible glazes and faux finished, as I would say, all the surfaces to make them look real!!!
Using a plywood base, Monica even wired the home for lighting and installed windows made from spun sugar!
With the main house complete, she turned her attention to the landscaping. Rice Krispies treats tinted a rich evergreen were shaped to form rows of boxwood hedges, and miniature planter boxes were created from fondant to flank the front entry to this edible homestead!
Here’s Monica working away to arrange her shrubbery just so! Her attention to detail is amazing – I love seeing it all come together!!!
The finished product! Miniature holly wreaths and garland, dotted with red berries and bows, dress the door and windows of this gingerbread dream! Not only is she an architect but a landscape designer as well! Wouldn’t you want a yard like this?!
So charming! Monica didn’t leave a single detail out of her design, even down to the brick pavers leading you to the planking on the front door. The powdered sugar “snow” finishes off this cookie house, which is way too pretty to eat!! Congratulations, Monica, on your first place win – amazing talent!!!
I thought these were just too pretty to leave out… Monica is giving these chocolate gems, her own custom creation, to her family and friends this season! I hope I make that list!! For a divine pumpkin shooter recipe from Monica, which we published last Thanksgiving, go here. Thank you again, Monica, for sharing all of your wonderful talents with us! I can’t wait to see the house you build next year!!!
I’ve got a surprise for you…
A Big Holiday Sale at Segreto Boutique on December 16th!!!
Join us at the boutique for 25-75% off store-wide!! The sale only lasts one day, so come by and stock up on Christmas gifts for the rest of your list!!! It’s all happening this Wednesday, December 16th from 10am to 5pm at 1414 Antoine Drive in Houston – hope you can make it!
Have a great week!