Gingerbread Haunted Halloween House
Get step-by-step instructions including how-to photos for making a spooktacular Halloween house with gingerbread, icing, and candy.
1-1/2 cups butter, softened
1-1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
4-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1-1/2 cups molasses
6 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
20 to 25 butterscotch hard candies, crushed
1 recipe Chocolate Royal Icing
10 ounces chocolate-flavor candy coating, chopped
1 tablespoon shortening
Tiny pretzel twists (optional)
Creme-filled rolled wafer cookies, such as Pirouette brand
Shredded wheat crackers
Assorted licorice candies
Chocolate candy bars
Chocolate Royal Icing:
In a large bowl combine 4-1/4 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons meringue powder, and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Add 1/2 cup warm water. Beat on high speed with an electric mixer for 10 to 12 minutes or until stiff peaks form (tips stand straight). Tint frosting with brown gel paste food-coloring to desired shade. If desired, add black and red gel paste food-coloring as necessary to make frosting a rich brown color. Keep icing covered with plastic wrap when not in use. Makes 3 cups icing.
Prepare the Gingerbread House Pattern Pieces
1. For gingerbread dough, in an extra-large bowl combine butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda, salt, cloves, baking powder, and nutmeg. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until well mixed, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add eggs, beating until combined. Add molasses, beating until well mixed. Divide dough into four portions. Chill dough about 2 hours or until easy to handle.
2. Have pattern pieces (available below) ready to use. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a large sheet of parchment paper roll out on portion of the dough to a rectangle that is 1/8-inch thick. Lightly flour top of the dough as necessary to keep it from sticking to the rolling pin. Place house wall pattern pieces on the dough rectangle; use a sharp knife to cut around each pattern piece. Remove excess dough. Remove pattern pieces; set aside.
3. Using a sharp knife, cut four windows in each wall piece (cut out the windows freehand so they are irregularly shaped). Transfer dough cutouts on parchment paper to a large cookie sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Gingerbread pieces will spread some during baking. To trim gingerbread pieces back into shape, place pattern pieces on the hot gingerbread pieces; cut around the pattern pieces with a sharp knife. Remove pattern pieces.
Prepare the Hard-Candy Windowpanes
4. Bake gingerbread pieces for 2 to 3 minutes more or until edges begin to brown and gingerbread is firm in center. Carefully slide the parchment paper with the baked gingerbread pieces onto a wire rack. Let cool completely. Repeat with more dough, parchment paper, and the remaining pattern pieces. (Set aside any remaining dough for another use.)
5. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. For windowpanes, line a cookie sheet with foil. Spoon the crushed butterscotch candies onto center of foil, making a 10x8-inch rectangle. Bake in the 300-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until candies are completely melted. Using the back of a spoon or a metal spatula, quickly spread hot candy into a thin, even sheet. Transfer foil with sheet of candy to a cutting board. Quickly use a long sharp knife to score hot candy sheet as shown in photo, above; break into rectangles along scored lines. Set aside.
Assemble the Base of the Gingerbread House
6. To assemble and decorate the roof units, place Chocolate Royal Icing into a decorating bag fitted with a small round tip. On a sheet of waxed paper pipe icing onto side edges of each of the four main roof side panels. Quickly assemble roof side panels as shown in photo, staggering corners as shown. If needed, use custard cups or cans to prop up until dry. When dry, pipe icing around top edges of main roof side panels; carefully place main roof top on top of roof side panels. Let dry 1 hour or until pieces are sturdy. Repeat with turret roof pieces.
7. In a medium microwave-safe bowl combine candy coating and shortening. Microwave on 100 percent power (high) for 2 to 3 minutes or until melted, stirring every minute. Using a pastry brush spread the melted chocolate mixture onto the sides and tops of the prepared main and turret roof units, spreading thinly and evenly to cover. Let stand until completely set. Also brush the melted chocolate mixture onto the porch roof entrance detail piece to cover. If desired, for a fence dip tiny pretzels in remaining melted chocolate mixture and place in a single layer on a sheet of waxed paper and let stand until completely set.
Add Walls and Windowpanes to the Gingerbread House
8. To assemble house section, use piped icing to attach windowpanes on inside of house walls as shown in photo, above. Let stand 1 hour. On a sheet of waxed paper pipe icing onto side edges of each of the four house walls. Quickly assemble walls, staggering corners as done for roof units in Step 4. If necessary, use custard cups to prop up pieces until dry. Repeat to assemble turret walls. (If desired for added support, cut rolled wafers into 2-1/2 inch pieces. Pipe a thin line of icing on inside corner of each wall section. Place a wafer piece in each corner. Let stand about 1 hour or until firm.)
Add the Porch Roof and Roof to the Gingerbread House
9. For porch roof, pipe a horizontal line of icing in middle of side walls and front wall of house. Gently push a rolled wafer into the icing on each wall to support roof. Attach three porch roof pieces, one at a time, on top of wafers, adding icing as needed. Add rolled wafers for support columns as shown in photo, above right. Secure with more piped icing. For front of house, attach porch roof entrance detail in center of the long porch roof piece, securing with piped icing.
10. When all sections are completely dry and firm, place assembled main roof unit on top of the assembled house walls. (If desired for added support, before adding roof pipe a thin line of icing on top edge of each wall. Place a rolled wafer on top of each of the walls. Let stand about 1 hour or until firm. Pipe another line of icing on top of each wafer; top with roof unit.) Place the assembled turret roof unit on top of the assembled turret walls. Set the assembled turret on top of the main roof. Secure in place with piped icing.
Decorate the Gingerbread House
11. Decorate house as desired by adding cracker shutters, licorice brickwork, and/or a chocolate bar door; secure decorations with piped icing. For finishing touches, layer pieces of chocolate bar for a walkway, pipe icing spider webs in window corners, and pipe decorative edges as desired. Use dots of melted chocolate to attach candy corn to rooftops. If using the fence, peel chocolate-covered pretzels from waxed paper; arrange them around the house, using melted chocolate to connect them. If desired, place a miniature string of lights inside the house to illuminate it. Makes 1 house.
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