There are 2 kinds of haunted houses that children love to craft – the ones they can eat, like gingerbread houses, and the ones that they can decorate to be as frightening as their little hearts desire. Here are suggestions for the edible haunted house. Instructions for royal icing and links to websites featuring gingerbread houses are at the end of the article.
Edible Haunted Houses
The easiest haunted houses for wee preschoolers would be using graham crackers and royal icing. They can practice making 3-D squares or rectangles and put the houses on a cookie sheet covered with aluminum foil which has been dusted with orange or brown-tinted coconut “grass” (shake in a ziplock bag with a few drops of appropriate colors of food coloring), or for a small house even a sturdy paper plate would work as a base. The roofs can be graham crackers, thin cardboard or construction paper and they can decorate their houses with little lollypop ghosts, candy pumpkins and even stickers. Windows and doors can be piped on and decorations such as candy corn, m&m’s, orange, black and yellow jellybeans, and gum-drops can give a “witch’s house” feel to them, much like Hansel and Gretel’s candy house.
This same general base can also be used for older children’s creations. They would probably prefer sheets of gingerbread that they can cut and bake to make their own walls and roofs. They can assemble these using royal icing and then let them sit to dry, after which they can affix decorations such as candy “pumpkins,” candy corn of various shades (great for the roof), flat licorice for window shutters, cooking wafers for shingles,gumdrops or spearmint leaves for shrubs and so on, to make it their very own creation. If children are really ambitious, they can also use craft sticks to make a broken down fence around the whole thing, and add items such as twig “trees” and pom pom shrubs to finish their creations.
Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:
- 2 large (60 grams) egg whites
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 cups (330 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
Using a mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until combined. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. Icing of the proper consistency stays on the surface of the icing for a moment when dripped from the mixer. If too soft, add a bit more confectioner’s sugar. Since royal icing hardens when exposed to air (making it perfect for decorating purposes) it has to be transferred to an airtight container as soon as it’s been prepared.
Royal Icing Using Meringue Powder (sold at specialty stores such as Michaels or Jo-Ann’s)
- 4 cups (440 grams) confectioner’s sugar (powdered or icing)
- 3 tbsp (30 grams) meringue powder
- 1/2 teaspoon extract (vanilla, lemon, almond)
- 1/2 – 3/4 cup (120 – 180 ml) warm water
Using a mixer, beat the confectioner’s sugar and meringue powder until combined. Add water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5-7 minutes). If necessary, add more powdered sugar or water to get the right consistency. Please use immediately or transfer to an airtight container. It hardens when explosed to air. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid when not in use.
(approximately 3 c)
For a great recipe for gingerbread and how to shape pieces, please refer to this website for a simpler house-front design, or take a look at this site for a traditional haunted house. Best yet, use your own imagination or give your child creative reign to use these as starting points for their own designs. For houses that way out of my league, please use this link to take a peek at other people’s creativity. Too much fun!