Skip the Gingerbread House Kit, Make a Pretzel Rod Log Cabin Instead
It’s not officially the holiday season until you’ve spent an inordinate amount of time on a cute, festive, dessert creation. Because you’re the food craft connoisseur that you are, you’ve already tried your hand at intricately designed sugar cookies, gingerbread houses, holiday cupcakes, and cake pops. That’s why you need a new dessert extravaganza that you can proudly admire for the final months of the year. Enter...the pretzel rod log cabin.
The beauty of this gorgeous holiday craft is that can be as involved as you want it to be, so you can make the cabin that truly speaks to your architectural aesthetic. It’s also a great, at-home weekend project that the kids are going to love. (Note: Just mentally ready yourself heading in, holiday food crafts with kiddos are bound to get messy, but putting a smile on their little faces is totally worth it, right?) Before you dive head-first into this wintery construction endeavor, here are some key tips to making the sturdiest, and most impressive pretzel rod cabin.
For the Walls
It’s best to use graham crackers as a template for the outside walls of your cabin. An exacto knife is a great tool that will precisely cut the crackers to size (it takes about 1 ½ sheets of crackers to equal the length of a large pretzel rod). You can also use the knife to cut openings for windows and doors out of the graham crackers. Once you’ve made a graham cracker template, adhere the pretzels to them with royal icing. Let the walls dry before assembling.*
For the Windows
To create windows for your cabin, you’re going to need about 1 cup of unwrapped butterscotch candy rounds. Place them in a plastic bag, and crush with a rolling pin until they’re completely shattered. You’ll need cookie cutters that are coated with cooking spray and roughly the size of your windows (the shape isn’t crucial, as long as they are large enough to cover the window). Place cutters on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and fill with the crushed candies. Bake at 325° until the candies are melted (about 10-12 minutes). Let them cool for at least 10 minutes before popping your window “glass” out of the molds. Allow the glass to cool completely (30 minutes to 1 hour) before adhering to the inside of your house with royal icing.
For the Roof
This part can be a little tricky, especially if you’re building a larger estate. Luckily, if you run into issues, you don’t have to worry about leaks (do you get it? This is a fake house. Nobody is living inside of it, so if there are open crevices, it’s going to be okay). You can either use graham crackers or a piece of cardboard (obviously, don’t consume these…) as your base. Then, arrange candy melts in alternating pattern to create a shingled look and secure with royal icing (Chex cereal would also be great). Again, this a part of the process that you’d ideally allow to dry for a few hours or overnight.
For the Chimney
The fumes from the fireplace have to go somewhere, right? (Again, this is sarcasm. The fire department does not need to approve this establishment, so if you want to skip this step, you definitely can). If you so choose, cut out a hole on one side of your roof. Use graham crackers (or cardboard that you will! not! eat!) to make a chimney to fit the opening. Coat the surface lightly with royal icing, and attach stone-colored jelly beans all over the chimney. If you’re feeling extra bourgie, place a lit holiday-scented incense stick down the chimney for a smoke effect.
For the Scenery
If you want to adorn your winter wonderland with snowy grass, use all-natural shredded coconut to create a nice, landscaped look around the base of your cabin. As far as snow, your royal icing can double as glue and decoration. Use whatever remaining icing you have left to create snow banks around the base of your house. You can be strategic about these, as they can also serve as some extra reinforcement for your log cabin. Fill a piping bag with icing to make elegant snow drips on the roof and windows. When it’s all finished, dust the entire thing with more confectioner’s sugar, for that signature, freshly-snowed look. Be sure to display this in an area of your home where all of your holiday guests are sure to see it—this is a food craft that you should definitely be bragging well into the new year.
*Ideally, you should let them dry overnight.