Yesterday at lunch with my grandparents I saw the most amazing thing… it wasn’t just a gingerbread house, but a gingerbread village. The country club where we ate whips up this amazing & intricate creation EVERY year. The table is probably 10 feet long & completely filled with all sorts of shapes & sizes of gingerbread houses. & they use their “ingredients” in the most ingenious ways. Roofs were made out of Frosted Mini-Wheats, Pringles, Ritz, Big Red Chewing Gum & Pasta just to name a few, siding was created from pretzels, M&M’s, & Good & Plenty. Truly, it is an amazing & inspiring sight, which leads me to what I’m actually writing about today…

So a couple weeks ago Coleen & I got to spend the weekend at Disneyland. If you read often enough, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, “Big Whoop! You guys go all the time.” But this wasn’t just any trip the Magic Kingdom. On this particular occasion we were actually invited out by the folks at Disneyland themselves. We, & several other “mom bloggers” spent the evening eating delicious food, learning more about “the happiest place on Earth” & watching fireworks. Anyway, one of my absolute favorite parts of the evening was when Executive Pastry Chef Jean-Marc Viallet gave us a “how-to” on crafting your own gingerbread house – an area where I definitely needed lessons because my houses tend collapse every year! & if anyone knows gingerbread houses, it’s this man. For any of you recent Disney visitors, Chef Jean-Marc Viallet & his team created that HUGE, REAL gingerbread coffin you see in the ballroom on the Haunted House. So without further ado, here are some of Chef Jean-Marc Viallet best gingerbread house tips…

* Before starting your gingerbread house, realize (& plan for) it being a multi-day process.
* Always put something (like a piece of cardboard) underneath your gingerbread foundation – there’s nothing worse than finishing your house, moving it, & having your “foundation” crack.
* & add a couple of dabs of icing between the foundation & the cardboard so it doesn’t slide around.
* Royal Icing is the standard “glue” when building a gingerbread house, but you can’t rush the icing. Once you’ve baked & “assembled” your house with your glue, you should really let it sit for at least a day before decorating your house to allow the icing to “set up”.
* If you are looking for a quick & easy way to assemble your gingerbread house, use melted whited chocolate instead of the Royal Icing, it dries & sets up really fast.
* Anywhere there is going to “ginger-to-ginger” contact be sure to use the icing or white chocolate.
* When assembling your house, don’t put on the roof until the remainder of the house is dry & set-up. So, if you’re using the Royal Icing, you’ll have to wait a day after assembling the walls, to put on the roof, & another day until you decorate.
* To create a stained glass look, use gelatin sheets.
* When baking, be sure to take advantage of your cookie cutters to create fun-shaped windows & doors.
* & my favorite tip of all? When building a gingerbread house remember that anything goes. &, if you make a mistake, don’t worry about it… just eat it.

Have fun creating your own special gingerbread houses this holiday season & special thanks to Chef Jean-Marc Viallet & all the folks at Disneyland.

xoxo, K