How to (Almost) Make a Gingerbread House from Scratch, or, My Epic Holiday Failure

On the third day of my gingerbread house experiment, I assembled my creation. Or, at least, that was the plan.

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I started by squeezing gobs of royal icing onto a sheet of tin foil lining a baking pan, then I set two pieces of the wall perpendicular to one other to create a corner. As per the instructions I was following (yes, I was still heeding a recipe at this point), I propped up the walls with a box of tea bags. Rather than wait for those to set (I think the instructions did recommend that), I proceeded to erect the other two walls, joining all four pieces together with far too much icing, a few boxes of tea and a prayer. Much to my surprise and delight, they all remained standing once I finally let go.

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While the walls were setting, I did some decorating of the house's exterior. I used chocolate rocks to make a gravel sidewalk, and chocolate nonpareils to make a walkway. For the record, Central Market doesn't carry traditional gingerbread house-type candy.

I decorated the door with red licorice, then stood back to survey my work. So far, not bad. Not Martha Stewart, but not bad. I wouldn't be winning any awards with this, but my mother would probably be impressed.

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Because the icing holding the walls together was still not dry, I decided to decorate the roof and then assemble it. I purchased the stereotypical but not at all tasty Necco wafers (Central Market does carry those for some strange reason) and set about tiling each side of the roof with them.

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