Video: Season’s Eatings | Our Gingerbread-less Gingerbread House for kids (and kids at heart)

One of the hallmarks of the holidays are gingerbread houses.

Gingerbread houses are a great way to celebrate the season, but the process, especially baking the gingerbread, can be cumbersome, especially if kids are involved.

Get the whole family around the kitchen table and make our Gingerbread-less Gingerbread House. Instead of baking sheets of gingerbread, we use crispy rice cereal treats, graham crackers, and even bars of chocolate.

That’s where the creativity can really shine. Assemble the house with icing and decorate with all sorts of candies and other goodies. 

Our video shows the steps in crafting a cereal treats. Here’s the information you need to make your Season’s Eatings bright:

CEREAL TREATS

We use crispy rice cereal treats as the foundation for our house, but you could use any favorite cereal. 

Add 6 cups crisped rice or other favorite breakfast cereal to a large bowl and set aside.

Coat the interior and sides of a 9×13-inch baking sheet and both sides of two spatulas with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium saucepan over low heat, add 3 tablespoons butter and melt. Add 4 cups miniature marshmallows and stir frequently, melting marshmallows completely and incorporating with the butter. 

Pour butter-marshmallow mixture evenly over cereal and, with prepared spatulas, gently toss and stir until cereal is thoroughly coated. Immediately pour mixture into prepared baking sheet and, with one of the spatulas, press to an even layer.

Allow treats to sit and cool completely, about 30 minutes, before cutting into squares or other desired shapes. 

ROYAL ICING

Royal icing is easy and quick to make, and when it sets, becomes the perfect mortar for your Gingerbread-less Gingerbread House. In a pinch, use a thick store-bought frosting.

While white icing is traditional with gingerbread houses, you can use food color to make icing in different hues, especially for adding details. You can use liquid food coloring, but it may dilute the frosting, so we recommend powdered food coloring.

We use a butter knife to add frosting to our house, but you can use a pasty bag. A pastry bag with decorator tip is great for adding details to the house.

Note: royal icing is quick to dry out, so work with it with a damp paper towel cover the top of the bowl. Store any extra in an air-tight container.

Add 3 cups powdered sugar in a medium bowl with 1/4 cup water, 2 tablespoons meringue powder (look for it where cake decorating supplies are sold) and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. 

Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat ingredients, starting slowly at first, until all ingredients are incorporated. Increase speed to medium, scraping down sides as necessary, until the icing comes together, about 1 minute. Stiff peaks should stand on their own. 

DECORATING ELEMENTS

Use your favorite candies and other treats to decorate your Gingerbread-less Gingerbread House. The royal icing is great for adding these to the house; clean up any excess icing with a wet paper towel. 

  • Spread icing across the roof to resemble snow
  • M&Ms, Skittles, and gumdrops look great on the roof edge, especially in a scalloped pattern, to resemble Christmas lights
  • Consider “thatching” the roof with layered Necco Wafers or Mini Wheats cereal
  • Miniature candy canes look great on each corner of the house
  • Make doors and windows with miniature chocolate bars. Use a whole bar for the door, and cut bars in half for the windows. A green M&M on the door resembles a wreath
  • Use pretzels to apply on the exterior walls to make yours look like a log cabin
  • Gummy candies add great elements to the house
  • Make a path leading from the front door with Junior Mints
  • Silver dragees look yum-mazing around the base of the house
  • Sprinkle colored sugar everywhere! If you’d like our recipe for making colored sugar, email us at Patrick@VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com with “Colored Sugar” as the subject

NORFOLK FESTEVENTS

Enjoy the spirit of the season each December with Norfolk Festevents’ Holiday Yule Log Bonfire & Holiday Marketplace.

The event takes place at Town Point Park on the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront and is free and open to the public.

Events include a marketplace full of holiday vendors, live ice carving, a holiday yule log bonfire, Christmas caroling, and Santa Claus visits. 

During the festivities, enjoy ciders, craft beers, hot chocolate, mulled wine, and other holiday treats. 

For more, visit www.Festevents.org 

***THIS YEAR*** submit a photo of yours and your kids Gingerbread-less Gingerbread House on or before December 4, 2021

Include the names and ages of the children involved with the project, what the house is made from and decorated with, and a few words on what inspired the decoration. 

Email entries can be sent to Patrick@VirginiaEatsAndDrinks.com with “Gingerbread House” as the subject line. 

Contest is open to families with children age 15 and under. You may enter as many houses as you wish. House should be completely edible. Winners will be announced before Christmas. 

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