California Prunes Gingerbread House

Ingredients

  • store-bought gingerbread kit or your own
  • 1-2 batches of royal icing and food coloring if desired
  • 20-30 California prunes
  • 20-30 California pitted dates
  • dried apricots or pears
  • Nuts: walnuts pistachios and/or pecans
  • sliced almonds for shingles
  • pomegranate arils or dried cranberries for Christmas lights
  • fresh rosemary or lavender for trees/landscaping
  • cinnamon sticks for logs
  • powdered sugar for snow
  • homemade truffles or sugar plums for snow people
  • your favorite charcuterie ingredients for around the house

Directions

For the gingerbread house roof:

  • Sliced almonds make great shingles. We toasted 1 cup of them at 400°F for 8-10 minutes. Spread yours in a single layer for even coloring, or leave small piles to create varying shades of color, then let cool. A small dab of royal icing on the back of each will glue them to gingerbread roof. Top the chimney stack with more of the icing, then cut slices from a whole prune to create smoke stacks. Line the roof ridge with whole prunes.

For the walls of your holiday house:

  • Start with 20 pitted dates, sliced into quarters, lengthwise. Run a small line of royal icing along the back of each to adhere it to a wall, creating horizontal rows of date “logs.” Slice more dates as needed to cover all walls.
  • Alternatively, you can spread a thin layer of icing over the entire wall, then press the dates into that. Decorate with small drizzles of icing to create a buildup of snow.

For the gingerbread house chimney:

  • We drew the outline of ours first, then filled it in with the royal icing. We used walnuts, pistachios, pepitas, and sunflower seeds to create the stonework, but you can use any mix of dried nuts and seeds here.
  • For an extra touch, sprinkle a little of the ground pistachio (see landscaping below).

For the gingerbread house landscaping:

  • Grind 1 cup of roasted pistachios in a food processor, creating a course dust. Use this as the base of the landscaping around the house and walkway. Line the walkway with slices of prunes and dried apricots, and scatter whole prunes as landscape stones, and as a base for rosemary twig trees.
  • Crush any remaining toasted almonds in your hand and sprinkle in piles to create mulched areas. Halve two more dates, then use those as planters to hold the stems of a dried lavender garden.

Extra touches for your gingerbread house:

  • For the snowman, we rolled prune and cocoa balls in coconut and powdered sugar, then decorated with cinnamon stick arms and a dried apricot nose.
  • Dried apricots also added a little warmth to our windows. We sliced ours thin, then cut the edges to square them, and layered icing on them to create panes.
  • Pomegranate arils make bright and festive lights around the outside of the house–we simply spread a little icing onto the eaves, then pressed them into place.
  • Cut a few cinnamon sticks in half and tie together to create a cute firewood bundle.

For the snow:

  • Gently pour ½ a cup of powdered sugar into a small flour sifter, then tap the sifter to dust the entire scene.
  • Step back, and enjoy your creation!

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