Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, cinnamon, ginger, and salt) in a large bowl, set aside. Whip vegetable shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add light corn syrup and molasses to sugar mixture, slowly, until thoroughly mixed.
Add warm water. You can add dry ingredients to mixer and knead with a dough hook, or transfer wet ingredients to large bowl of dry ingredients and knead for 10 minutes. Put dough in a large plastic bag for 1 hour to rest. This dough will keep for a week at room temperature or a month in the refrigerator, although it is best when used same day.
Roll dough evenly onto a piece of tin foil (big enough to fit a cookie sheet) to about 1/8 to 1/4-inch thickness. Use copper cutters to make cottage shapes. Peel up the unused dough. Place foil on cookie sheet, being careful not to disturb cut pieces, and bake 15 to 20 minutes until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on a flat surface. Once baked, the cottage will last for years if stored in a plastic bag. Construct the house using Royal Frosting.
Combine meringue powder and water and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Add confectioners' sugar and continue to beat for 7 minutes. Add food coloring to tint.
Keep covered when not using since royal frosting will begin to harden when exposed to air. Decorate the gingerbread pieces while laying flat. Gravity will work to your advantage, and you'll have more control. Assemble the house with heavy frosting by adding more powdered sugar. Use various size tips to create the degree of detail you are looking for.
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This recipe was provided by a chef, restaurant or culinary professional. It has not been tested for home use.
Recipe courtesy of Gayle O'Hanlon, Enchanted Gingerbread, Tennessee, FL
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