I think I made a gingerbread house with my mom when I was little... but I hadn't made one since then. So, I used a combination of the Vegan Lunchbox Recipe (via VeganDad) and the Joy of Cooking recipe (*my recipe at end of this post*). It came out perfectly! For the vegan royal icing, I used the recipe from the recent issue of Vegetarian Times. Whoa. That stuff is thick. I had to add a little extra water just to get a little traction. However, it worked like a charm and glued my little house together in no time flat. You can see how I have put my friend pomelo to work, holding up the roofing sheets while the frosting dries.
For snacks, I wanted to stick with healthy and light fare... since I knew we'd all be nibbling on spice drops (personal fave!!) and red hots and such. So, first I made a big platter of fresh veggies and two big bowls of hummus. Mmmmmm!
Also some nice whole wheat bread and a batch of the Cucumber Cashew Dip from Veganomicon. I love this recipe so much! Fast and easy, with a very nice flavor. Today's lunch will be leftover hummus and cuke dip with veggies. Mmmm. It's always a good idea to make too much.
I also made up a big batch of gingerbread folks. Large and small. The small people were great for the gingerbread houses (to scale!)... but somehow they disappeared quickly into people's bellies. They are a little more tricky to get out of the cookie cutter, therefore slightly annoying, but apparently I should make more of them next year. There was also a big platter full of many, many colors of icing for people to decorate their gingerbread friends. These are the Lowfat Gingerbread Men from good ol' Joy of Cooking... easy to veganize!
CANDY!! I picked out all vegan candies, of course! There were a surprising number of options. Mostly I just read the labels, but I also reviewed PETA's vegan-friendly candy list before leaving the house. It felt completely weird and subversive spending $20 on candy at the drug store... not my usual scene! :)
My mom had the good idea to get out muffin tins and make a little assortment for each table... In all we had 4 tables and 10 kids and a few adults all building gingerbread houses. It was awesome! A sea of candy and concentration and festivity!
... and later with their completed Gingerbread Houses!
Julie and Leila's cute little houses!
JP & little B with their totally glorious creation! A little sagging in the roofline... but that's okay. :)
Alana made this most awesome Hanukkah Hut! Complete with dreidels and a giant squirrel and a camel and other great animals. It was so pretty!
Here I am, hard at work. I relinquished my decorating spot at some point to accommodate some cute little guests... and by the time I picked it up again, there was not much frosting left over...
...but still I managed to make the most of it, and my mini-gingerbread person still got a red hot beret.
Another view of my finished creation! This morning some of the candies are already dropping off. I guess I'll have to eat them! This party was so fun, and something I've wanted to do for a long time. I had everyone bring their own Gingerbread House (or graham crackers for a quick and easy solution), and then I supplied the candy and icing. It was awesome. Also, we covered the sofa and all the card tables with old sheets... because there was some serious sticky-finger action going on!
Last but not least! As some of you will know... each year I make a little hand-drawn cookbook with some of my favorite recipes from that year. Not usually my own recipes, because I'm not too good at that, but recipes I discovered and fell in love with. And, every year I do a giveaway of some of these cookbooklettes for my faithful blog readers! So, this year I will giveaway 25 Cookbooklettes!! You have until Friday December 17th to enter, and then I will pick 25 names. To enter, leave a comment on this post, and if your blogger comment doesn't include a link back to your blog, please include your email or I won't be able to notify you.
Amey's Gingerbread House Recipe
(bastard love child of Joy of Cooking recipe & Vegan Lunchbox Blog)
Makes 1 big house!
1/2 c Earth Balance/margarine
1 1/4 c packed brown sugar
1 cup molasses
2 "eggs" - I used EnerG Egg Replacer (3 tsp powder + 1/4 c water)
6 Tbsp water
6 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp cinnamon
4 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
With a fork or mixer, mix together the margarine, brown sugar, molasses, & egg replacer in a large bowl. Mix in the water. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Add the dry to the wet, stirring well. It may be a little dry, but if it's really dry, add a little more water. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 2-8 hours at room temperature.
Preheat your oven to 350. Line your baking sheet with parchment paper. Take out half the dough and knead it a little to get it incorporated. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a scant 1/4 inch thickness. Maybe even a little thinner (especially for the roof pieces!). Use a template to cut out your pieces for a gingerbread house, being sure to cut out any windows or doors now. The dough will be really hard when it's done cooking. Carefully transfer your pieces to the cookie sheet. Bake for about 12-14 minutes until the surface is firm. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.