In case you can't tell, I really like Halloween. Each year I love to try out Halloween projects (well, some of them are actually old, like bobbing for apples, but you get the point) as a way of vetting potentially permanent traditions. Such is how I came to discover that, yes, I would make a graveyard cake each year, and no, eyeball cookies do not taste good.
If you think my Halloween tradition evaluation system is byzantine, you should see what happens at Christmas.
Anyway, this year I decided to assemble a Halloween (gingerbreadesque) house. I know some are appalled by this perversion of a Christmas tradition, but I actually think in this case that the cross-pollination between holidays works. Inexpensive kits for these structures are available often at grocery stores, but a random offer of free shipping and a 20 percent discount led me to the good stuff at Wiliams-Sonoma.
When I mentioned to a few friends and my husband that I was planning to put together a Halloween house, every single one of them immediately reminded me of how much I suck at assembling Christmas gingerbread houses. They're right: My gingerbread houses always fall apart, even the one time I used a kit designed for "children aged 3 and under." But perhaps the magic of Halloween would prevail and I would experience success on the nth attempt.
The kit's instructions (oddly, in French as well as English) were fairly brief, short but sweet: Ice the edges of the walls, put 'em together, and adorn as you see fit. One important tip that I followed, thank God, was to assemble the house on the piece of cardboard included in the box. Doing so made the house much easier to rotate during the decoration phase.
Since I believe that most of my earlier edible architectural projects failed because I rushed through making the frame and didn't allow the icing to dry, I tried to work slowly. I also used a shit-ton of icing "glue" to adhere the pieces to one other. Once the house was assembled, I let it sit for 24 hours before resuming work.
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Success! Well, at least by my low standards.
Okay, so my house does not look exactly like the one on the package. But it hasn't collapsed ... yet.