Local Girl Scouts offer tips on building gingerbread houses.
Those who stroll past the annual Gingerbread Festival at the Mall at UTC might have a question on their minds as they enjoy all the artistic creations.
How do they stay together for more than a week?
The secret is simple: hot glue.
This year’s festival runs Dec. 6-15, and obviously, the competition is more about art than taste.
In getting tips on building an award-winning gingerbread house, it seemed reasonable to check with the experts, which in this case are East County Girl Scouts.
Mylee Gilbert, 9, and Alana Beasley, 8, were the Girl Scouts who shared their tips for making a gingerbread house. They had worked with three other Girl Scouts to make houses they entered last year, and they will be making houses again for this year’s festival.
Both Gilbert and Beasley said one key to building potential award-winning houses is working with other people to have a greater pool of ideas.
But Gilbert said the most important ingredient is imagination.
When it’s all over, the Girl Scouts have the satisfaction of knowing they created something thousands of people will enjoy at the mall. Oh, and there are a few other benefits as well.
“Making a mess and having fun,” Beasley said.
So onto their six easy steps.
Step 1: Construct the walls and roof.
Frosting is always a good go-to for construction when it comes to an adhesive, but as mentioned above, Gilbert suggested the hot glue is a better way to go. Besides, frosting can occasionally drip.
Also with all the decorations, it’s hard to tell if that’s really gingerbread under there. In the past, Gilbert has used graham crackers to construct the house rather than the classic gingerbread.
“It actually worked out surprisingly good because of the ends,” she said. “The ends of it made it stand up straight.”
Step 2: Use your imagination in decorating.
The scouts said to let your imagination run wild when decorating the house.
“You want to make it extra colorful if you want it to look good,” Gilbert said. “You can’t just put like three sprinkles on top.”
Gilbert and Beasley said Dots, Smarties and other colorful hard or gummy candies work best for the houses. They said to avoid chocolate because it can melt and won’t last long.
The girls had one crucial warning for all decorators: Putting too many decorations can add weight and put stress on the walls, which will fall or crack.
To attach candies to the roof or walls, the girls said to just add either frosting or glue and to press on with your finger or a sponge.
They said you need doors and windows to make sure it looks like a house. Beasley suggested using a toothpick to lightly scrape out a door in the front and the windows. Gilbert said using frosting to outline a door and windows works too.
Step 3: It takes a village.
Beasley said making two gingerbread people works in the scene, but three or more works better. The more people, the more work.
Much like the house, the girls said adding too much decoration to the gingerbread people will cause them to crack or not be able to stand up. They suggested leaning the gingerbread people against the home because getting them to stand on their own, with the weight of decorations, can be difficult.
Step 4: Landscaping adds to the value.
Decorating the scenery can be a balancing act because creating landscape with the weight of candy can cause everything to tumble, but not enough leaves the scenery too boring.
Beasley said her group created a garden last year in which they spread frosting along the base and used sugar plums to create a fence. They then put Dots of different colored frosting in the middle to look like flowers and grass.
Gilbert’s group created a pond using frosting with Swedish Fish in it.
Step 5: Just don’t get glue in your mouth.
Whether the gingerbread houses win any awards, most of the creation tastes pretty good. Enjoy any edible leftovers, and avoid that glue.
Beasley’s favorite part is eating her creation “because it’s so yummy and delicious.”
Step 6: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
After you’ve finished with the project, take a moment to appreciate your masterpiece. You did it!