If constructing a gingerbread house is on your list of holiday to-dos, then follow the advice from the experts at Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Disney World.
"Nothing beats creating your own gingerbread house," master pastry chef Erich Herbitschek tells UsMagazine.com. "You can easily assemble from store-bought graham crackers, candies and other sweet decorations."
To get started, use a template for the house (Create your own or download one from the Internet). "For beginners, you can use a pint-size milk carton as your structure," Herbitschek suggests.
You'll need graham crackers, plenty of mortar — or royal icing, plus candy to decorate.
DISNEY'S EASY-TO-ASSEMBLE GINGERBREAD HOUSE
TO MAKE MORTAR (ROYAL ICING)
Beat 4 room-temperature egg whites until light and fluffy (5 to 7 minutes) in a large mixing bowl using an electric mixer on medium speed.
Gradually add 5 cups of confectioners’ sugar and 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of lemon juice and beat on high for at least 5 to 7 minutes or until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks.
Cover icing with plastic wrap, making sure the wrap touches the icing to keep it from drying out.
Using the royal frosting as glue, spread royal frosting in the center on a paper plate or on a board wrapped in aluminum foil. This will help your “walls” stand up.
Using a zipper freezer bag with a small hole snipped in one corner, pipe frosting along the edges of two graham cracker squares and join to create a right angle. Hold together, pressing them into the frosting on the plate.
Join 2 more graham cracker squares together at a right angle, and glue them to the others on the plate. You now have a complete square of graham cracker walls.
For the roof, pipe icing on the flat edges of 2 graham cracker squares. Add more frosting along the edges of the existing cracker walls; gently place the “roof” and hold in place for a minute until icing begins to set.
Next, cut a square in half diagonally to form two triangles out of the one square. The triangles will be the last part of the roof. Pipe icing to “glue” to the front and back where the roof joins the walls.
Let your gingerbread house dry for at least an hour.
Decorate with candy — and try to resist eating it until after the holidays.
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