5 Family Tips for Making Your Gingerbread Houses Last in Hawai‘i
We asked an expert baker how to keep your gingerbread creations sturdy so that nothing will be stirring, not even a house.
Keeping gingerbread houses intact in Hawai‘i’s humid climate can be a challenge: Cookies crumble, edible sidings slide and candy trimmings collapse. Sonja Oliveri, who has taught patisserie and pastry courses at the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and is a mom of two, knows all about it. She was part of the team that created the gingerbread villages at The Kāhala Resort for almost 20 years. So, we asked her how to keep your homemade holiday houses standing through Dec. 25.
Our 5 Tips
- Make the right kind of gingerbread. Soft, cakelike versions won’t hold all the sweets you want to put on top of them. Cookies that are more like crackers are more stable. Oliveri uses recipes from two books: A Year of Gingerbread Houses by Kristine Samuell and The Gingerbread Architect by Susan Matheson; both are available at the Hawai‘i State Public Library.
- Use meringue powder in your royal icing. “It doesn’t have as much water as regular egg whites,” Oliveri says. If you do want to use eggs in the icing that you’ll use to glue your pieces together, she says, add extra powdered sugar to ensure the icing is thick and fairly stiff so it will be strong. Then, cover it with a damp towel while you work so it doesn’t harden into a brick while you build.
- Coat the entire inside of your gingerbread with icing. Don’t skimp and just do the edges. The reason? Royal icing sticks to itself best.
- Steer clear of gummy candy. Smooth gelatin-based sweets do not adhere well to royal icing unless they have a rough coating, like rainbow sour belts or Sour Patch Kids. Oliveri likes using the belts or spiced gumdrops for roofs, licorice for trimming and Nerds Ropes as window boxes.
- Dry your house thoroughly before you begin decorating. With that stiff royal icing, Oliveri says the structures can dry in about an hour and a half if you’re in a warm dry area. If your air conditioning is on, it will take longer and in cool, damp elevations, you may want to wait a day or longer before decking those houses.
Looking for more holiday crafts and events? Visit our Holiday Corner.