Valentine’s Day is less than a week away… While I can’t say that I have gotten anything for my hubby yet (oops, sorry honey!), I have done some Valentine’s Day baking.
So, while I may not be the person to help you with great gift ideas for that special someone (in fact, if you have any, I’d love to hear them!), I can share a fun, kid-friendly kitchen project with you today that is sure to put you in the Valentine’s Day mood.
The holiday season got pretty busy for me in December, and I never got around to making my annual gingerbread house. So, I decided that I would make a gingerbread love shack for Valentine’s Day instead.
Usually I make a giant gingerbread house, but I decided to go with something a bit smaller this time around. I went with a simple and easy design that is easy to put together. It’s a manageable project for an afternoon. And, if you’re baking with kids, it’s the perfect size for each everyone to make their own!
Plus, if you’re anything like me, you proably stocked up on Valentine’s Day candy at Target that you will never eat (does anyone really like to eat those candy hearts with messages on them?), but couldn’t resist because it was just so darn cute? Oh, you don’t do that? Hmm… Well, just in case you were tempted by the holiday candy aisle, this is a great way to get rid of some of those festive candies. I’m just saying. But really, please tell me I’m not the only one who bought way too much Valentine’s Day candy!
Designing Your Gingerbread Love Shack
Before you start baking, you need to have a design for your gingerbread house… Or, in this case, your love shack. You can find lots of great patterns online, or you can just design your own with a few simple supplies – a ruler, a pen (or marker), card stock, and scissors.
Like I said before, I kept things simple this time and made my own pattern. It only requires three pattern pieces:
- First, you’ll need to design the piece for the front and back of your love shack. It should be a square (3 in. by 3 in.) with a triangle on top (measure from the center of the square and draw a line 1 1/2 in. upward to create the triangle).
- Next, you’ll need to design the sides of your love shack. Since the front is a 3 in. square, it will have to be 3 in. tall, and I choose to make the sides 4 in. long.
- The roof needs to be the same length as the sides, and as tall as the slanted sides of the triangle on the front and back pieces. So, for my house, the roof was 4 in. by 2 1/2 in.
Baking Your Love Shack
Once you have your pattern ready to go, it’s time to bake! You can use any cutout cookie recipe that holds it’s shape well when you bake it. My current favorites are these Dark Cocoa Molasses Cookies, but the usual Gingerbread Cookies will do, too.
Roll out the dough to about 1/4-inch thickness. Then, place the patterns on the dough and use a knife to cut along the edges. If you’re using my easy pattern, you’ll need two of each piece.
Bake the cookies according to the recipe, but be sure they are sturdy. Sometimes it helps to overbake the cookies just a bit.
Decorating… The Fun Part!
Sure, making a pattern and baking the pieces for your gingerbread love shack is fun… But, the decorating is the really good part!
I chose to decorate the pieces for the love shack before I put it together (flood icing doesn’t work so well once the house is together!), but you can work the other way around, too. I’d recommend a stiff royal icing for putting the house together since it dries kind of like cement.
Once your house is assembled, it’s time to put all of that candy to good use! I used mine to decorate the ridge of the roof and make a walkway in front of the door. But, the possibilities are endless!