Pro Tips for Building a Gingerbread House – The New York Times

To build a candy-covered gingerbread house, you’ll need to avoid crummy construction methods that can lead to frustration and destruction.
Here are some tried-and-true tricks for sweet success →
Schedule your project properly. Depending on the type of kit you’re using, assembly alone can take up to a few hours because of the time the icing needs to dry, which is crucial to creating a house that can stand up to everything you’ll pile on. Be sure to thoroughly read the instructions ahead of time.
Ensure that your icing pipes smoothly by kneading the icing in the packaging. Then cut a hole in the piping bag (start with a cut that’s less than half an inch across and increase as needed). If you notice blockages while piping, insert a toothpick and swirl it around a few times.
Before you jump to assembly, consider decorating your gingerbread-house cookies straight out of the box. We like to pre-decorate doors and windows, which can be hard to trace on an assembled house — piping icing onto a flat cookie from above can be far easier than doing so from straight on.
For best results, place candies on the icing while it’s still wet so that they stick and don’t disrupt the snowscape. If you’re using a kit that comes with a limited selection of candy, take a visual inventory of the decorations to decide where to best place them ahead of starting.
You may not think of icing as erasable, but it is on a gingerbread house. If you don’t love the way your piping is looking, simply wipe it away with a piece of paper towel (dry or slightly damp) and try again. You can also use a toothpick to steer icing in the right direction or to smooth out a small clump.
Don’t add the roof until you’re sure the sides are set. The icing at the corners should look and feel dry, and the side pieces should appear to be holding their shape without any outside support. This could take 20 minutes or a couple of hours depending on your kit.
Even if you save building a gingerbread house for after a big meal, you may want to set out a bowl of candy that’s okay to snack on. Opt for individually packaged minis (leftover Halloween candy, perhaps?).
Check out our picks for the best gingerbread house kits.
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