Special equipment: 3 sheets of stiff paper or 2 manila folders (split at the seam), scissors, a ruler and a pencil; a base for the house (you can find these at crafts stores or make one with stiff pieces of cardboard wrapped in white paper); 3 small cans (for propping up the walls); 2 piping bags, one fitted with a small plain tip and the other fitted with a large plain tip
For the gingerbread: Sift together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, salt and cloves into a large bowl. Set aside.
Combine the butter, shortening, brown sugar and granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Add the molasses, vanilla and egg and beat on medium until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sifted flour mixture and mix on low speed until combined into a smooth dough, about 1 minute. Form the dough into a flat square, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until just firm, at least 2 hours and up to overnight.
Meanwhile, make templates for the gingerbread house. Gather 3 sheets of stiff paper or 2 manila folders (split at the seam), scissors, a ruler and a pencil. For the side panels, draw and cut out a rectangle that measures 4 by 7 inches. For the front and back panels of a house with a peaked roof, draw and cut out a template that is 6 inches wide at the base, 4 inches to the roofline and 4 1/2 inches slanted to a peak. The template for the roof panels should measure 4 1/2 by 8 inches.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Unwrap the dough and cut into 3 equal pieces (a pizza wheel is handy for this). Working with 1 piece of dough at a time and keeping the other pieces refrigerated, roll the dough into a rectangle 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Using the template, cut out the side panels and remove the scraps around the cutouts. Repeat with the remaining 2 pieces of dough, cutting out the front and back panels and 2 roof panels. If the dough gets too soft while rolling, return it to the refrigerator for 15 minutes before proceeding. (Discard the dough scraps or reroll to make cookies.) Chill the dough pieces on the prepared baking sheets for 15 minutes.
Bake the dough pieces until crisp almost all the way through (the very center will still be a little soft), 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pans 10 minutes on a rack, then remove the house pieces to the rack to cool completely.
For the royal icing: Combine the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl. Add the vanilla extract, peppermint extract and 5 tablespoons water and beat on medium-high speed with an electric mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the icing forms thick and glossy peaks, about 2 minutes, adding up to 1 tablespoon more water if needed. Divide the icing between the 2 prepared piping bags (one fitted with a small plain tip and the other fitted with a large plain tip).
Decorate the side panels: Using the piping bag fitted with a small tip, pipe icing to draw 2 windows on 1 of the side panels. Pipe icing onto the backs of 4 of the pieces of peppermint gummy candy and attach them to the sides of the windows for shutters. Create a decorative trim by piping 12 dots along the top of the panel; attach 6 of the candy-coated chocolates by pressing them onto every other dot. Repeat with the second side panel. Let the panels rest until set, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Decorate the front panel: Using the piping bag fitted with a small tip, pipe a double line of icing across the front panel where the roof starts to incline; press on half of the white jelly beans. Pipe a large dot of icing onto the back of 1 of the green gumdrops and attach it to the panel just above the line of jelly beans; pipe a small dot of icing in the center of the gumdrop and add a red cinnamon candy. Pipe icing to draw a door; attach a red cinnamon candy with a dot of icing to make a doorknob. Pipe icing to draw 2 windows and press a red cinnamon candy into each corner of each window. Pipe icing onto the backs of 6 of the gummy bears and attach 3 on either side of the door. Let the panel rest until set, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Decorate the back panel: Using the piping bag fitted with the small tip, pipe a double line of icing across the back panel where the roof starts to incline; press on the remaining white jelly beans. Pipe a large dot of icing onto the back of the remaining green gumdrop and attach it to the back panel just above the line of jelly beans; pipe a small dot of icing in the center of the gumdrop and add a red cinnamon candy. Pipe icing to draw 2 windows and press a red cinnamon candy into each corner of each window. Pipe icing onto the backs of the remaining 9 gummy bears and attach them along the bottom of the panel in a row. Let the panel rest until set, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Decorate the roof panels: Using the piping bag fitted with a small tip, pipe dots of icing onto the backs of 8 of the white chocolate melting wafers and attach them to the bottom edge of 1 of the roof panels to create a row of roof tiles. To lay down the "glue" for the next row of wafers, pipe short lines (about 1/2 inch each), starting on the roof panel above each wafer and finishing in the center of each wafer. For the second row of tiles, place a wafer on top of each icing line to affix it to the roof, partially overlapping the wafers in the first row. Continue piping lines and adding wafers in overlapping rows until the entire panel is covered. You should have about 6 rows, depending on the size of your wafers. Repeat with the second roof panel. Using a fine mesh strainer, dust the panels with confectioners' sugar. Let the panels rest until set, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Assemble the walls: Using the piping bag fitted with a large tip, pipe a 6-inch line of icing onto the foil-wrapped base (this will be for the front of the house). Press the front panel into the icing and pipe a line of icing along the inside of the panel at the base to reinforce it. Prop up the front panel with a can. Pipe a 7-inch line of icing perpendicular to the front panel. Pipe icing up the edge of 1 of the side panels. Press the side panel into the icing on the base and against the edge of the front panel, creating a corner. Pipe a line of icing along the inside of the side panel on the base to reinforce it. Prop up the side with a can. Repeat the process with the remaining side panel and the back panel. Let the house rest until the icing is firmly set, at least 1 hour.
Attach the roof: Gently test the walls to make sure the icing is set. If they give, let the house rest until firm. (If you add the roof too soon, the house will collapse.) Once the walls are set, remove the cans. Using the piping bag fitted with a large tip, pipe icing along the angled roof edges on 1 side of the house. Pipe icing onto the unfrosted side of 1 of the roof panels along the 2 short edges (where the roof will attach to the slanted edges of the house). Press the panel onto the house and hold it in place until the icing sets, about 5 minutes. Repeat with the other side and the remaining roof panel. Let the roof set until completely dry, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Landscape the yard: Using the piping bag fitted with a large tip, pipe a rectangular walkway in front of the house; line the edges with white sprinkle-coated gummy candies and pave the middle with crushed rock candy. Use the piping bag fitted with a large tip to pipe icing snowdrifts around the walkway and the base of the house. While the snowdrifts are still wet, sprinkle them with pearl sugar. Attach a row of sprinkle-coated gummies along the bottom of each side panel by pressing them into the snowdrifts.
Using the piping bag fitted with a large tip, pipe icing along the top seam of the house where the roof panels connect; line with a row of the mini marshmallows. Dust the house with confectioners' sugar and let rest until dry.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.)
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