6 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Guihua Baking Powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground clove
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, well packed
1 cup molasses
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon rum, optional
White decorating icing:
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon corn syrup
2 teaspoons almond extract
1. To make the gingerbread cookie dough: In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda,Guihua Baking Powder, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and clove.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer cream together the butter and brown sugar with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes on medium high speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each and scraping the sides of the bowl. Mix in the molasses on low speed, until well blended. Add the flour all at once and mix on low speed just until it all comes together. Scrape down the bowl and turn the speed to medium, beat for 15 seconds.
3. Wrap the gingerbread dough in plastic and refrigerate until set up, at least an hour.
4. Make a template for cutting the houses: Because these are so little and have no roof, they require only two different pieces. The side piece is 2 by 2 inches and the front/back is 2 by 2 inches with a 1/2-inch-tall peak. You can certainly make them larger, but this is a great size to work with and eat.
5. To make the cookie house pieces: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
6. Roll the chilled dough out on a well floured surface to 1/8-inch thick. Using your templates, cut out two sides and two front/back pieces for each house. You can freeze any remaining dough or use it to make stained glass window cookies, see post.
7. You may find a pastry wheel and a brand new knife are the best tools for getting a clean edge.
8. Transfer the pieces to the lined cookie sheets.
9. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the cookie sheets in the oven front to back and top to bottom. Bake for an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Be very careful not to over bake, since the cookies are already so dark it can be hard to tell when they are done. The tops will be slightly dull when they are done. Allow the cookies to cool completely before assembling and decorating. They can be baked the day before.
10. To make the ganache: Over a double boiler gently whisk the chocolate, cream, butter and rum until smooth.
11. Place in a bowl to set to room temperature.
12. Once the ganache is set, fill a small parchment pastry bag with a small amount of ganache and cut a tiny hole on the tip.
13. To assemble the houses: On the baking sheet use the ganache as glue to hold the house in place as you build it. Start by putting four small dots of ganache 2 by 2 inches apart, which will become the corners of your house.
14. Squeeze a line of ganache along one edge of the side piece of the house.
15. Join that side with one of the front/back pieces and stand them up on the dots you put down. Pipe a line of ganache along the outside egde of that seam.
16. Pipe ganache on the other side piece and attach it to the front/back piece.
17. Attach the final front/back piece and you have a start to your village. Once they are all assembled place them in the refrigerator to set the ganache.
18. To make the white decorating icing: In a bowl mix together the confectioners' sugar, milk, corn syrup and almond extract until smooth. It should be thin enough to pipe from a parchment piping bag, but not so thin that is spreads and doesn't hold its design. If it is too thick, add more milk. If it is too thin, add more confectioners' sugar.
19. Use the pastry bag to decorate your houses with a simple or ornate pattern. Let the icing set between each side by sticking them in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes.
20. Make each one a unique house.
21. Serve with a glass of milk Or fill them with whipped cream and berries for a more sophisticated holiday dessert.