Start a New Tradition With This Crudite "Gingerbread" House
If you're not much for sweets (or, you know, icing-shellacked cookie houses), this savory display is for you.
This delicious house won't stay standing for long! A crispy Cheddar cracker is covered in meat, cheese and veggies, creating an impressive edible centerpiece for your holiday buffet.
What You Need:
- 2 batches Cheesy Cracker Dough
- Four 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- Two 5-ounce containers herb and garlic cheese, such as Boursin, at room temperature
- One 6-ounce package sliced pepperoni
- 4 ounces sliced yellow Cheddar, cut into pepperoni-size rounds with a biscuit cutter
- 4 ounces sliced white Cheddar, cut into pepperoni-size rounds with a biscuit cutter
- 16 sugar snap peas, blanched, plus more for serving
- 1 English cucumber, thinly sliced
- 4 pretzel rods
- 1 bell pepper
- 2 thin slices watermelon radishes, cut into 2-inch squares
- 4 thin celery sticks, plus more for serving
- 14 broccoli florets, blanched, plus more for serving
- 2 bocconcini mozzarella balls
- 1 black olive, halved
- 1 strip roasted red pepper
- 1 tiny carrot stick (about 1/2 inch long), plus medium carrot sticks, for serving
- 2 black sesame seeds
- 2 green beans
- 2 cups finely grated Parmesan
- biscuit cutter
- pizza wheel (optional)
- a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip
What To Do:
Make templates for the house: Gather several sheets of stiff paper; a manila folder works well. Cut a 4-by-7-inch rectangle for the wall panel template. For the front and back panel template, cut a piece that is 6 inches wide at the base, 4 inches high to the roofline and 4 1/2 inches slanted to a peak. Cut a 5-by-8-inch rectangle for the roof panel template.
Roll the dough: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment. Cut the Cheddar cracker dough into 3 equal pieces (a pizza wheel is handy for this). Working with one 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.
Cut the dough: Using the templates, cut out the front and back panels of the house and remove the scraps around the cutouts. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, cutting out 2 roof panels from the second piece of dough and 2 side panels from the third. (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 baking sheets for 15 minutes.
Poke the dough all over with the tines of a fork to keep it from shrinking in the oven. Score the side panels to resemble bricks. Brush the dough with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt as directed in the recipe.
Bake the dough: Bake until golden and crisp all the way through, about 20 minutes. Cool on the pans for 10 minutes on a rack, then remove the pieces to the rack to cool completely.
Combine the cream cheese and herb and garlic cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Transfer half to a pastry bag fitted with a medium plain tip. Reserve the rest for serving.
Build the house using the cream cheese mixture as the glue. Pipe an outline of the footprint of the house on a large serving platter or cutting board. Stand the front and side panels of the house in the cheese mixture on the platter. Pipe some cheese mixture where the sides meet.
Attach the 2 roof panels, piping along the seams to hold them to the sides of the house.
Starting at the bottom of each roof panel, tile the roof with alternating rounds of the meat and cheese; use the piped cheese mixture as glue.
Decorate the front and back of the house with the sugar snap peas in a herringbone pattern in the eaves and tile the remaining spaces with cucumbers, meat and cheese. Put pretzel rods on the corners of the house as pillars.
Cut the bell pepper in half from top to bottom. Cut a 4-by-2-inch rectangle from one of the halves to make a door and attach it to the front of the house. Cut the other pepper half in half again from top to bottom; reserve one of the pieces for a sled. Eat the remaining pepper pieces (or reserve for another use).
Attach a watermelon radish to each side panel. Add thin celery sticks in a cross pattern to make window panes. Arrange broccoli bushes under the windows.
Stack the bocconcini on top of each other and secure with a toothpick. Top with an olive half as a hat, wrap with a roasted pepper scarf and attach the tiny carrot piece for a nose and sesame seeds for eyes.
Build a sled with the reserved bell pepper piece and the green beans, using the cheese mixture to glue them together if necessary.
Build a path to the front door with meat and cheese, bordering it with broccoli bushes. Spread the Parmesan snow all over the serving platter. Serve with the remaining vegetables and reserved cheese mixture.