Walt Disney World's Life-Size Gingerbread House
Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa celebrates the holidays with one of the largest gingerbread houses in the country.
Earlier this week we featured gingerbread houses we wish we lived in, but today we're featuring a gingerbread house we could actually live in. Located in the lobby of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, this 17-foot-tall Victorian-style gingerbread house is a sensory experience with stunning sugar flowers, chocolate sculptures including a 200 pound Santa, 15 hidden Mickeys and the smell of cinnamon and sugar that hits you immediately as you walk in the hotel.
Chef Erich Herbitschek, Disney’s Executive Pastry Chef who started the gingerbread house tradition 15 years ago, and his team spend more than six months working on the house each year. “It’s almost like building a real house,” said Herbitschek or Chef Erich. “We use a cherry picker to work on the roof.”
More than 10,000 pieces of gingerbread have to be dipped in chocolate for use on the house. Here are some other impressive facts:
- 1,050 lbs of honey
- 140 pints of egg whites
- 600 lbs of powdered sugar
- 700 lbs of chocolate
- 800 lbs of sugar
- 35 lbs of spices
A Closer Look at Disney's Life-Size Gingerbread HouseView All 8 Photos
The house will be on display until January 2, 2014. If you go, make sure to visit at 1 p.m. any day for a cooking demonstration with The Gingerbread Lady. And if you can’t go, Chef Erich shared his gingerbread recipe with us so we can make our own house … or delicious cookies to eat.
Gingerbread Cookies (Makes 36 cookies)
- 2 sticks softened butter
- 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 2/3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 1/4 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground star anise
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground clove
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
Ingredients for decorations (optional)
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 cup colored sugar granules
1. Cream the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth using an electric mixer. Add the eggs and mix until combined.
2. Sift all the remaining dry ingredients in a separate large mixing bowl and mix well. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture until a dough forms
3. Remove dough from the bowl and wrap in plastic wrap; place in refrigerator until firm, two to four hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease cookie sheets.
5. Remove dough from refrigerator and allow dough to sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes, until pliable. Divide dough in half and place on floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out until about 1/8 inch thick. While rolling, flour the work surface and rolling pin as needed.
6. Cut out desired cookie shapes with cookie cutters. Transfer cookies to a greased cookie sheet, placing them 1 inch apart.
7. Lightly brush cookies with milk and sprinkle with sugar granules as desired.
8. Bake until firm and edges begin to darken, 10-14 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet for a minute, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Cook’s notes: You can find star anise in the ethnic aisle in your local grocery store. To get the best flavor from this spice, you will need to grind the whole star anise pod. For the neatest edges, dip your cookie cutters in flour before cutting out each cookie.