Once upon a time, a story was told about the adventures of a little boy and a little girl who got lost in a dark wood only to find themselves face to face with the sweetest house the world had ever seen. And so begins the tale of the gingerbread house (also known as Hansel and Gretel) by the Brother's Grimm. Along with this story also came the introduction of German Lebkuchen to the world. Like a harder version of the more traditional gingerbread, suddenly edible Christmas cookies could be built into fanciful structures.
Since the introduction of this tradition, the last 200 years have been filled with families constructing their annual, edible homes. Some gingerbread houses are, however, more impressive than others. Around the world, many families have taken it upon themselves to construct astounding architectural designs that incorporate everything from gardens to breezeways to electricity. Houses even become so elaborate that they win national awards for their intricacy.
Using templates or cookie cutters, bakers shape the gingerbread dough and transform them into amazing gingerbread houses and Christmas decorations. A touch of royal icing glues the gingerbread pieces together while melted candy makes up stained glass windows. Roof tiles are made from chocolate and candy canes.
This year the famous Omni Grove Park Inn located in Asheville, North Carolina is sharing their gingerbread houses virtually! In fact, you can make your own gingerbread house with the help of Chef Carla Hall in this virtual cooking class.
So this year, instead of picking up a gingerbread house at the grocery store, think outside of the box. Who knows what wonderful creations can be constructed when you forgo the how-to guide. Here are 12 beautiful examples:
1. Baked Bricks Gingerbread House
Individually baked bricks at different temperatures for a textural variety?
Amazing, but yeah if you think this is achievable while maintaining a work-life balance, think again.
2. A Mouse House
This looks more like a springtime sculpture than a seasonal gingerbread house.
Nevertheless, this is indeed constructed from that spicy cookie. If you look closely, the proof of its holiday spirit is in the Santa mouse.
3. Tasty Turrets
Not many things are more festive than the turrets of St. Basil's in Moscow. Tchaikovsky even incorporated them in the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker.
Now if only we could actually reconstruct their beauty and grace in our kitchen. Or we could leave it to this gingerbread artist.
4. Gingerbread Garden Gazebo
This is like a lantern and a house all in one.
Now you can light your kitchen on those dark nights in a one-of-a-kind stylish manner, but first, you have to build the lantern.
5. Alice in Wonderland
Forget a winter wonderland when you can have Alice in Wonderland. Painted to perfection, this gingerbread castle has all the fantastic elements that make the holidays such a magical time.
Too bad it might take until next summer for you to actually finish its construction.
6. Dreamy Ginger Castle
This little gingerbread village is dripping in icing in the most artistic way possible.
I'm not sure how they managed to create these icicles without snowmelt ruining the effect, but I commend the architect.
The construction may not be the most difficult, but the art on this little house really makes it take off.
We love this little home as much as you do, and you can try all winter long, but good luck trying to recreate that frosting art.
8. Ginger Mansion
12 kilos of gingerbread stories are held up by so much frosting. We aren't even sure how much, but you'd better have an industrial mixer in your kitchen in order to replicate this mansion.
9. Gingerbread Castle
This gingerbread castle is almost too pretty to eat!
10. A Bridge Too Far
Now even the house shape has been sacrificed here in favor of a suspension bridge.
While bridges are difficult to construct in steel, I can only imagine how much care and patience went into constructing one out of not-so-sturdy gingerbread.
11. A Gingerbread Vacation
When they said, "Less is more," clearly they hadn't met Americans at Christmas.
Now instead of making a gingerbread house, you're going to need to make a gingerbread hotel to keep up. Good luck!
12. Haunted Gingerbread House
Not necessarily seasonally appropriate, but it has electricity which takes this haunted mansion to the next level.
And in case you want to visit a real-life gingerbread house, you're in luck. They do exist! Just visit Park Güell in Barcelona.