Halloween is a good excuse for me to completely get distracted from my work and make something creative with my son. Usually it is related to his Halloween costume which I make every year.
Last year, he was a samurai warrior. I made the armor out of gold cardboard and used an awesome pattern I found online.
The year before he was a Lego mini figure. The Lego head was refurbished from a Dora the Explorer piñata found at a 99-cent store. This past birthday, I turned it back into a piñata for his Lego party. Two uses out of one – I always love it when that happens!
This year he is going to be a mime, so his costume is just a hat, striped shirt, black pants, white gloves, and white make-up. Since it was such a cinch, I ended up pouring all my creative energies into building a haunted gingerbread house with him.
I made a pattern for the house in Illustrator, which you may download and print here.
Then I made gingerbread using a recipe I found on foodnetwork.com. It is a great recipe, yielding perfect gingerbread for building. A neat trick about this recipe that I hadn’t seen before is to score the dough before baking. You bake it for about ten minutes, take it out, then cut the dough along the scored lines and finish baking. This assures you have clean straight edges, which you wouldn’t have if you cut all the pieces out first and then baked.
I printed my pattern on card stock and used it as a template to cut the pieces out of dough.
I was inspired to make “glass” windows using a technique I’ve used with Christmas cookies: We smashed Jolly Rogers in baggies and then spooned the crushed candy in the window holes. As it bakes, the candy melts and when it cools and hardens, it looks like glass.
It is very thick too. We tried breaking the front window to give our house the run down look, and I ended up breaking the wall. No matter, we just glued it together with the royal icing (see foodnetwork.com recipe.) I made to construct the house. I colored it grey with black gel food coloring.
Then we glued the house together with the royal icing.
The whole thing was constructed over several days. We had such fun planning everything — discussing what monsters would live there, what kinds of candy we would use to make things.
The porch railing is made of pretzels and the stairs are made of Kit Kat.
The dirt is made out of crushed Oreos. The path stones are Reese’s pieces. The dried shrubs are caramel popcorn. The headstones and monsters were all made out of fondant. (Click here for instructions on how to make homemade fondant.) Jamie made all of the monsters except the zombie hand coming out of the grave (his idea though.)
The sign and ghost and skeleton head faces were drawn with food coloring pens. He did the faces, and I did the sign.
The tree is made out of pretzel sticks dipped in melted chocolate. I cheated and used non-edible thread to hang the mini marshmallow skeleton heads on the branches.
Now, we look forward to destroying the whole thing together and eating it!
Happy Halloween everybody!!