Friday, December 20, 2013

Handmade DIY gift idea: mini gingerbread houses!


Hello my good friends! : )

Are you ready for Christmas already?
With just one weekend left before the holidays, I thought it was nice to share a cute last-minute gift idea that could be a lovely Sunday project and maybe help you avoid the last-minute shopping rush for little presents and favours.

Gingerbread houses are quite adorable indeed, but generally time consuming - plus, the making of can get a bit messy! 
The version I suggest is simpler and quicker, but I think the result is still super cute:

1- (the recipe) a super easy shortcrust pastry instead of gingerbread. It is really fast to make, and very resistant (and also delicious!)

2- (about size) since you all know my passion for miniatures, my choice to go for tiny cookie houses shold not come as a surprise! : )
But there are several pros indeed: a tiny house is easier to assemble and decorate, and way more stable - meaning that it can be gift wrapped and given away as a gift without the risk of destroying it!

3- (the setting) a festive cookie will make a scrumptious base for your house, and allow you to add some extra details (Christmas elves, mushrooms or tiny snowmen) to achieve extra cutenesss!

Have I managed to convince you already?
Here is my recipe! : )


Ingredients:

- 250 g of plain flour 
- 125 g of sugar
- 135 g of salted butter
- 1 egg
- 1 yolk
- (optional) a little bit of vanilla scent

Preparation:

Cut the butter into tiny pieces and let it soften a bit out of the fridge.
Start from a mond of flour, add the sugar in the middle, then the eggs, the vanilla scent and the butter pieces.
Use your hands to blend it all together until you get a nice uniform dough.
Avoid overworking the dough. The key point is to keep it all quick, so make sure you stop kneading as soon as you are able to form a compact ball of dough.


Let it rest in the fridge for at least half an hour, and then you'll be ready 
for cutting out the shapes of your houses! : )


There is plenty of free gingerbread house templates on the net, so simply choose your favourite and print it out in a tiny scale - only, make sure to choose a simple one! No Victorian manors allowed in this case. : )
You will also need a medium-large cookie cutter of your choice. I had this cute snowflake cutter at home, but a heart, a star or a Christmas tree would work too. If you don't have any cutter large enough, just cut out a round or rectangular shape from the dough. 


(a gingerbread-inspired dish cloth is of course absolutely necessary :P )


Cut out the elements you need for your house.

Tips:
- use a slightly thicker layer of dough for the bases, that need to be stronger than the rest 
(and, if possible, bake them in a separate batch)
- prepare some extra walls, roofs and facades in case some of them get ruined during baking (I was lucky this time, but from my former experience I learned that some of the cookies can get deformed or overbaked, since the heat distribution in the oven is not perfectly equal)
- with this amount of ingredients I was able to create 6 houses, and a bunch of cookies from the leftovers. : )


Bake at 180° for about 10 minutes, until the cookies turn gold (better keep an eye on them, since the baking time strongly depends on the cookies' thickness and on the behaviour of every single oven).


Nice, uh?
Let them cool down, and you are ready for the funny part! : )




Start by decorating the roofs and facades, and let the icing dry completely.
(Don't go for very complicated decorations. 
A tiny house is cute with just a few lines and a little bit of sugar sprinkles!)


(oh, look, I made a Christmas tree!)


Assembling tiny houses like these is really easy.
The walls are thick enought to provide strenght and stability,
and you can use whatever you find in your kitchen to add extra details.

I used red marzipan for the elf and the mushrooms, 
sugar frosted chickpeas for the tiny snowmen,
and white chocolate sprinkles to make micro pebbles.

Next time I think I'll get creative and make tiny fences and wooden logs with chocolate, but this time I really want this project to be quick & easy!



Well, I really hope you like the final result! : )
As I said, this project won't really take long, and it is also a perfect family activity for a cold winter weekend.  : )
And every house will be a super cute, unexpensive, delicious and unique little gift.. or a treat for yourself, of course! :D




(oh, the little village..)


8 comments:

  1. ooooh this is TOO adorable! I looove it!

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  2. How cute! Thanks for the idea and tutorial!
    Hugs, Drora

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  3. DE-LI-ZIO-SE!! SEMPLICEMENTE PERFETTE!! Auguri auguri auguri!!!

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  4. Wow these are so cute. Thank you for the tutorial. They look delicious.
    Hugs Maria

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  5. What a lovely idea. My daughter and I could have fun making these together.

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