We all know that this season is the busiest–filled with crafts, shopping, decorating, wrapping, and, of course, baking. I admit when I first considered creating an edible snow village, I anticipated making every piece myself. Not much of a baker, I could have made a simple gingerbread house, but I could never have created the winter wonderland I was envisioning. I am so relieved that I asked for help to create these gingerbread houses. And I found the right person! My friend Sandee of Sandee’s Sweets made the most amazing wedding cakes and desserts for my wedding five years ago, so I completely trusted her skill and creativity to create some “sweet” and beautiful houses for this project. And oh my goodness, am I SO glad she agreed to make the houses for me! I am not that skilled artistically, and what she created surpassed all of my expectations and imagination! I hope at the end of this tutorial, you check out her site for all of her other sweet creations. And, she was so kind to write her tips and share them so that you can create your own handmade houses! Please see her tips in red at the end of this post.
If you do not want to make your own houses, I recommend buying a kit with preassembled houses that just need decorating. There are so many options out there with a variety sizes and themes. Once I had my houses in hand from Sandee, I began to make my other pieces for my board. I originally wanted to use a charcuterie board for this project, but the idea of using a spinnable lazy susan won me over.
I started by cutting wax paper into the shape of the board to place under the snow to make cleanup easier, rather than putting the snow directly on the board. To make the faux snow concoction, I mixed powdered sugar and water in a gallon bag and cut the corner to dispense it (a wonderful and easy suggestion that my baker gave me). Last, after the powdered-sugar snow mix had dried, I topped it with finely chopped coconut, made easier by using a mini food processor. Originally, I was just going to use chopped coconut but the combination of both ended up being the perfect texture. I sprinkled a thin layer of the coconut on top of the dry watered sugar to cover the board and saved some for the end to place at the bases of the trees and houses where any edges might have appeared imperfect.
The Jolly Rancher pond was the simplest of all the pieces. I simply microwaved blue Jolly Ranchers in a bowl and immediately poured it onto wax paper to allow it to cool. Once it was cooled, I cut out my desired shape still attached to the wax paper and placed on top of my snow. Extra snow would be added on the edges to appear more realistic.
Next, I worked on the ice cream cone trees made from ice cream cones, white candy melts and white sand sugar sprinkles. I heated the candy melts according to the package instructions and rolled my cones in the candy until they were covered. Then, I placed the cones in an empty bowl and sprinkled the sand sugar. I kept reusing the sugar until the whole cone sparkled.
Tip: Use a spatula to spread even out any thicker spots of melted candy.
Now, the fun part–displaying all the pieces! My favorite thing about the lazy susan is that it can be moved and viewed from all angles. There’s so much detail on these houses that I did not want anything to go missed. How cute is this candy cane sled?! Be sure to check out the beautiful stained glass on some of the windows. You could even add a remote tea light inside the house to shine through the gingerbread house windows. How adorable!
My kitchen smells like gingerbread heaven and I’ll be honest…I don’t think I will be able to eat these adorable creations! There are so many possibilities to making your own snow village. I would love to see what elements others can come up with!
If you do not have the cutters for your gingerbread house pieces, it’s no problem. However, you will need to draw it out on graph paper to make sure that everything fits together and is the size you want. Once you have the design how you want it, cut out on card stock and use that as your template.
If you don’t have gingerbread, you can use graham crackers and a serrated knife to cut your shapes to fit!
When cutting out the shapes to ensure that they are perfectly straight (and they need to be), use a ruler, You want to make sure that your walls and roof are perfectly straight because it will make putting it together easier. To make your window and doors, you can use a knife to cut them of your house or if you have small cookie cutters, use them. Use your imagination, it should be whimsical!
Once you have everything baked, you will need to use a micro grater to sand your edges to make them perfectly straight. A ruler/square edge is your best friend.
To assemble your house, you will need the following:
Water or liquid flavoring (like lemon juice if you are planning on eating it)
You want your royal icing to be stiff, like meringue for a pie. If it is too stiff, just add a tablespoon of water at a time. If it is too thin, add a little powdered sugar at a time. When you get the correct consistency, keep it covered (with a damp towel or lid) so that it doesn’t dry out. If it does, you will know it and just add a bit of water and mix again.
If you don’t have a decorator’s piping, simply use a baggie and put your icing inside. Then cut a 1/4-1/2” hole in one corner and use it this way. You don’t need a special decorating tip for assembling your house.
To stabilize your house while assembling it, use any canned goods that you have to hold the sides in place until they dry. Once dry, place your roof on. Once your house is dry and stable, you are ready to decorate. For decorating, thin your icing a tiny bit so that it’s a little easier to use but still stiff enough that it will hold your shapes that you pipe on your house.
Once you have the house decorated like you want, you can add the drippy snow (this requires you to thin your icing so that it will run, but just a little). Test is out first before you put it on your house.
Final step is to sift powdered sugar all over your house.
I hope you got some inspiration from this project. I’m already thinking of ideas for next time! I love how portable the village can be if you needed to pause and move the project for a later time while saving your counter space.
(Check out more of Sandee’s tips and inspiration here )