When I was a child, we got cookie cutters for making gingerbread houses. And every year, I'd bake gingerbread, cut out the pieces, and we'd make entire villages of cookie houses. It was one of my favorite Christmas memories.
After I moved out on my own, I found my own set of gingerbread house cookie cutters, but I started substituting a firm sugar cookie dough for the gingerbread. Because although I love the smell of gingerbread, I find that most people prefer the taste of sugar cookie. Myself included.
I want my sons to grow up with the tradition of making cookie houses. Last year we built them with cousins. This year, we invited friends over to come build with us.
I sent out e-vites to the parents, inviting them to come over. They were asked to each bring a bag of candy, and I'd provide the houses.
I headed out to Smart & Final to pick up what I would need: plates to use as the house bases, ingredients for the sugar cookies, ingredients for the icing, and some candies to get the party started (and add variety). You'll find each recipe I used for the party at the end of the post. I also used plastic tablecloth on the roll from Smart & Final on the table - makes clean up so much easier! Smart & Final is a great place to shop when hosting a party - they have everything from plates to chafing dishes to to-go boxes so that your guests can take home their leftovers!
The day before, I made the cookie parts, let them set, and that night I used Royal Icing to put them together, and secure them to the plate.
The next morning I made Buttercream frosting for the kids to use. I find that Royal Icing is too tough for most kids to squeeze out, so I used Buttercream for the kids instead. Royal Icing is great to keep candy on securely, since it dries candy-hard, but the sugar cookie houses for the kids didn't need to get that hard, so Buttercream frosting worked just fine. I put a couple tablespoons into each zip-top bag, and snipped off a corner of the bag to make multiple icing bags without multiple couplers and fancy cake tips... and also with less mess! The sipper side of the bag prevents the frosting from accidentally coming out the back.
All the candy was put in bowls in the middle of the table. This way kids could easily get what they needed.
The kids had a blast creating their houses!
Firm Sugar Cookie Dough
2 1/3 c flour
1/2tsp baking powder
1c granulated sugar
Mix egg an sugar. Beat until well mixed. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Put in fridge for at least 20 minutes. Roll out onto a floured work surface with a floured rolling pin, and cut to size.
Royal Icing3tbsp Meringue Powder (find in the baking section of your craft store)
4c sifted powdered sugar
6 tablespoons water (a little more or less as needed)
Put all ingredients in bowl and mix well. BE CAREFUL, if the icing gets too thick, it can and will break your mixer... it is like food cement. If the mix is still to heavy, SLOWLY add water 1tsp at a time and keep mixing until done.
1/2c softened butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
4c powdered sugar
2 tbs milk
Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix with a mixer until fully incorporated and creamy.
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