The Gingerbread House at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa quickly became a holiday staple with its debut in 1999. At the time, there was discussion between Chef Erich Herbitschek, the Grand Floridian general manager (Georgina Sussan) and the retail merchandise manager (Debbie Komoroski) about doing something besides the gingerbread carousels with life-size horses that had been featured for the previous few years.
Check out the Mice Munchies article on the 2012 Gingerbread House and holiday treats.
One of the original ideas was a simple box or rectangular house with a roof. As they discussed the project with John Rowland of the Grand Floridian engineering department, they decided to build a frame that could be built, taken apart and reassembled year after year. In July 1999, they started mixing the gingerbread during off times and created shingles, siding and hearts for the windows. The pieces were stored in a nearby warehouse after being wrapped between tissue and placed in plastic containers.
The Winter 2000-2001 issue of The Disney Magazine featured an article about the gingerbread house when it was first constructed at the Grand Floridian in 1999. Amy Hamel based the following gingerbread recipe on Chef Herbitschek’s. Cynthia Caldwell designed the Mickey house.
Need a craft to work on with the kids during the holiday break? What about a fantastic centerpiece for your Christmas table?
Step 1: Prepare Spice Dough
6 3/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups molasses (a 12 ounce jar)
1 cup margarine
In a large bowl, stir together flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside. In heavy pot combine brown sugar, molasses, and margarine, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until margarine is melted. Add this syrup to the dry ingredients. Stir with a wooden spoon until you have a stiff dough. Refrigerate until dough is slightly cooler than room temperature (about an hour).
Step 2: Roll Out Dough and Bake Shapes
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Turn the dough onto parchment paper, and roll to 1/4-inch thick. Using the templates (at the end of the post), cut out each house piece and remove the dough around it. Keep pieces on parchment paper and transfer to baking sheets. Bake 7 to 15 minutes (longer for larger pieces) or until firm and brown around the edges. Remove from oven, and slide paper and gingerbread onto cooling racks.
Step 3: Make Sugar Windowpanes
2 cups sugar
4 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons lemon juice
Bring all ingredients to a boil over medium heat. When the mixture reaches 300 degrees om a candy thermometer, remove from heat. Spoon onto parchment paper creating two Mickey Mouse-shaped heads and two rectangular windowpanes slightly larger than the actual window openings. (Make a few extras to choose from.) Cool.
Step 4: Create a Base
Cover a tray or piece of wood at least 12 X 19 inches with paper or foil.
Step 5: Prepare Royal Icing
2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons meringue powder
2/3 cup warm water
Mix all ingredients at low speed until fully incorporated, then beat at high speed 7 to 8 minutes until very stiff. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside until ready for use. (Always keep icing covered when not in use; add water if it becomes too dry.)
Step 6: Decorate the Front and Sides
Fit a pastry bag with a writing or star tip, fill with royal icing, and use it to gently glue windowpanes to the back sides of the front and side panels of the house. Decorate the front door with a starlight mint, two trimmed-to-size peppermint sticks, M&M’s and gumballs. Trim Front windows with Red Hots and icing. Pipe faces onto cooled Mickey windows and use a star tip to decorate around them. (For better control. use a dotting, rather than lining, motion with your pastry bag.) Let icing dry.
Step 7: Assemble House
Lay the four wall pieces in place flat on base, decorated sides down. Refill pastry bag and use a writing or star tip to pipe a line of icing on the edges of the walls, along the bases, and at the corners where they will join. Prop the walls up and press together gently but firmly, wrapping string around the house if necessary to hold walls together. Let dry.
Assemble the chimney separately in the same fashion as the walls and let dry.
When the house walls are secure, attach the roof. Pipe icing around the upper edges of the walls. Set on the roof pieces and hold in place until Fully set. Pipe a line of icing along the ridge of the roof, “glue” on chimney, and let dry.
Step 8: Decorate the Roof
Spread a layer of thick icing onto the roof and, using a star tip, pipe a ridge along the top of the roof. Decorate with M&M’s and gumballs while icing is wet. To make icicles, use a pastry bag with writing tip. Fill chimney with foil, then top with icing and gumdrops.
Step 9: Additional Decorations
Spread icing around the base to create a snow-covered yard. Place large red and white mints and large spearrmint-leaf candies around the edge of the house. To make a tree, use a star tip to pipe green tinted royal icing onto a sugar cone, then decorate with star-shaped candies. For a log bundle, wrap a cluster of cinnamon sticks in string and dust with powdered sugar. Mold a snowman From icing stiffened with additional powdered sugar. Tint same icing black and mold a hat, eyes, and mouth. Dip a toothpick in orange icing For a nose. Use Red Hots for buttons.
Step 10: Light the House
Insert a votive candle or small light in the back door to illuminate the windows.
Gingerbread House Template
And that my friends is how you make a Mickey Mouse Gingerbread House. I hope each of you has a very merry Christmas. It is my pleasure and honor to write for you here every week and I’m thankful for your support.
ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at [email protected].
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