Do you still have a ton of candy from Halloween and don’t know what to do with it? DON’T THROW IT OUT! We had a bunch left over as well, because we didn’t have a lot of trick-or-treaters this year. Here’s a fun project great for the whole family, and it’s perfect for the holidays! Most recently we were at Discovery Cube Orange County in Santa Ana working on Gingerbread Houses at a private event. (Yes already!) They wanted us to try building one together as a family and possibly inspire others to enter the annual Gingerbread Competition. The students from the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) were there also baking gingerbread cookies, building their own house, and guiding us. Every year local companies, schools, families and organizations are invited to build their own creations and to enter. It doesn’t have to be a house. It can be a barn, church, castle, a structure, or whatever you want. Entries will be judged on imagination, construction, decoration detail, use of gingerbread, color and adherence to guidelines. You can see ours below!
Tip: Have a Game Plan
Although it’s not perfect, we had a lot of fun making it. We were provided a list of materials that were available to us, but we were welcome to bring our own. I googled for ideas and what came to mind was a candy house like from “Hansel and Gretel”. Perfect! It required a lot of candy and we had a lot of it. The workshop was for about three hours so I needed a game plan, and I needed to come prepared. A few days before the event, I had the children help me sort out the candy to see what we had and what I needed to pick up. I had to also ask myself, What do the children enjoy doing? Right now it’s LEGOS. Well, I thought maybe if I cut the Starbursts in half, they would look like bricks. One of the children could help me lay bricks along side the house! To save time, I went ahead and pre-cut them from home. Another component I thought would be fun to do was build a rainbow out of Skittles so I had one of the children help sort out the colors and put them in individual bags. He also practiced so he had an idea what they would look like. I was really surprised how long they stayed with me preparing for the event.
On the day of the event, we watched a Gingerbread baking demonstration from OSCA (see recipe below), and the children helped make cookies. The kitchen smelled so good. The icing part was messy but that was expected, and even though I came in with goals for the children, they had their own ideas, and we all kind of just had fun with it. As you can see it isn’t perfect, and yes, I wish I had time to go back and fix some of it, but it was a great experience and now I want to do this every year!
SAMPLE LIST OF SUPPLIES: Candy Canes, Sprinkles, Gum Drops, Peppermints, M&Ms or Skittles, White Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Gum Balls, Pretzels, Lollipops, Marshmallows, and Icing with piping bags and various tips. Gingerbread kit or make your own!
TIP: A cupcake pan is a great way to stay organized.
Join the Competition!
Submit Entries Nov. 18th – Dec. 3rd! Design and build your own creation for a chance to win some awesome prizes! Anyone can enter and family participation is encouraged! Local schools, families, and businesses compete in this annual event.
- Best Holiday Theme
- Best by an Organization
- Best Youth 5 and Under
- Best Youth Ages 6 -13
- Best by a Classroom
- Best by a Youth Group/Troop/Scout
- Best by a Member of the Cube
- Best Science Theme President’s Engineer Award
Gingerbread houses will be displayed starting November 24, 2017 through December 31, 2017. Entries are due by December 3, 2017. For special arrangements, please call (714) 263-3802. For rules and regulations, please visit discoverycube.org. Notice: All creations will be disposed of at the end of the exhibition on January 2, 2018.
Gingerbread House Recipe
Author: The Mekjian Family Culinary Arts & Hospitality Conservatory
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1 1/2 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp cloves
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup margarine
- 1 egg beaten
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
ROYAL ICING INGREDIENTS
- 3 3/4 cups powdered sugar sifted
- 1-2 large egg whites may substitute 4 tsp packaged egg whites and 1/4 cup water
- 1 tsp almond extract may substitute vanilla extract or lemon juice
INSTRUCTIONS FOR GINGERBREAD
- In a medium saucepan, heat sugar, molasses, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves to boiling, stirring occasionally
- Remove from heat; stir in soda (it will foam up)
- Stir in margarine until melted
- With a fork, stir in egg, then flour
- On a floured surface, knead dough until mixed
- Divide dough in half, wrap half with plastic wrap; set aside
- Roll half the dough, with a rolling pin, slightly thinner than 1/4 inch
- Cut with cutters
- Bake at 325 °F on a cookie sheet for 12 minutes; cool on a wire rack
INSTRUCTIONS FOR ROYAL ICING
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, egg white, and water
- Mix the ingredients together with a wooden spoon, until the icing is thickened and smooth, about 2 minutes. The icing will keep up to 2 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator
- Before using, beat it with a fork
Discovery Cube Orange County
2500 N Main St
Santa Ana, CA
SCIENCE OF GINGERBREAD
Head into the world of the classic holiday dessert and find out how science plays a crucial role in the kitchen. Our favorite goodies don’t come together magically though. We use heat, math, engineering and other important components in order to bake and create the confections everyone loves. Build a candy car out of holiday treats and then compete, sweet-to-sweet in the Gingerbread Derby, Santa Claus will make special appearances, and other fa, la, la activities are on the schedule. Experience the spirit of the holiday season when Santa Claus drops in for a visit November 24 – 26 and December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16-24, 11am – 3pm.
One LET’S PLAY OC! reader will win this prize. Please enter below for a chance to win!
US Residents Only. No purchase necessary to enter. All readers have an equal chance to win, however, you must enter to win. A winner will be randomly selected via RaffleCopter and notified via email. I will attempt to contact the winner for 3 days. If the winner cannot be reached by email, a new winner will be selected the same way. There are several different ways to earn entries. One prize per household. The winner will receive, free of charge, the prize mentioned above. This prize has no cash value and is not available for exchanges. Prizes are not transferable or refundable and must be accepted as awarded. The winner is responsible for any and all other costs and expenses not listed above. Not liable for unclaimed prizes or fulfillment.