One of my favorite things about September in California is that Disneyland FINALLY decorates the park for Halloween. Most importantly, the Haunted Mansion gets a fun little makeover. Now, I’m no fan of change, especially since this ride is a classic. But you guys, they did it so well! We’re talking lots of creepy additions from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Wreaths with teeth, Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie, snakes, and snow, and tons of presents. They’ve even added something that I think is pretty magical- the smell of gingerbread! During the ride, the sweet and spicy scent fills the air as you pass by a dining room teeming with ghosts enjoying a rather rowdy holiday party. And if you look closely, you can even spot the gingerbread house!
Here's what you will need:
Gingerbread Cookie Recipe:
- Gray, white, and green royal icing (stiff and flood consistency) CookieCutterKingdom recipe here
- Piping bags
- Tips #1.5, #2, and #3
- Madame Leota printout
- X-acto knife
- Airbrush machine
- Green and Black Airbrush Color
- Gel food color in green & black
- Clear alcohol such as Everclear or Vodka
- Food Doodler Pen in Black and Green
- 1/4 cup crushed graham crackers dyed green
- Sandwich baggie
- Heat Fan
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out the dough between 2 sheets of waxed paper to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Using gingerbread cookie cutters 3 to 5 inches tall, cut out the figures. Using an offset spatula, transfer the cookies to a prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough portions, then gather up the scraps and reroll them. If the scraps of dough have become sticky, chill them for 10 minutes before rerolling. For best results, do not roll the same piece of dough more than twice.
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book, Edited by Chuck Williams (Oxmoor House, 2009)
After you’ve baked your gingerbread cookies, let them cool completely before you attempt to ice them. Oh, they’re already cool? Cool! Let’s get started!!
Using your #2 tip and stiff royal icing in gray, outline the tombstones and the base of your globe. Immediately fill them in with your gray flood consistency icing using a #3 tip. Set the tombstones and the snow globe in front of the heat fan to dry (about 10 minutes or until they’re dry to the touch). If you’re not using a fan to dry, it can take up to 8 hours to dry completely. While the tombstones are drying, take your scribe and poke it into the icing. You’ll want them to look rough and damaged; I've found that poking the icing while it’s forming a crust is the best way to achieve that old, scraggly effect.
Once the base of your snow globe shape is dry, you can outline it using a #2 and flood the rest in white using a #3. Place it in front of the heat fan to dry, which should take another 10-15 minutes. While the cookies are drying, grab your graham cracker crumbs and throw them into a sandwich bag. Add a couple drops of green food dye and squish the crumbs around until the dye is fully absorbed. This with be your moss!
Let the cookies dry completely for 4-6 hours or overnight so the icing is nice and set.
Now the fun begins! Take your stiff gray icing fitted with a #1.5 tip and outline the tombstones. I like to pipe on random squiggles of icing and roll the whole cookie into the graham cracker crumbs, aka the moss. That way, the moss sticks onto only the wet icing. Use your Food Doodler to write funny names or sayings on the tombstones. This is the time to add whatever embellishments you’d like!
For the Madame Leota cookie, I decided a gothic base on the crystal ball would work best, but you can have fun with it and just do whatever comes to you naturally! I used the same stiff gray icing that I used for the tombstones and piped on bat and a creepy claw base. You’ll want to let that dry for about 5-10 minutes under the heat fan. Once dry, completely cover the white part of your cookie with a piece of paper towel; you only want the gray exposed. Take out your airbrush and add a drop or two of black airbrush color. Spray the base lightly to give it dimension and help age it. Now take the paper towel and cover the gray base that you’ve just sprayed. (Make sure you rinse out your airbrush gun between colors.)
Here’s where your Madame Leota print-out comes in. I did a quick Google search for images of her face and found one that I thought represented her best. I printed the image out and used my X-acto knife to cut out the outline of her face. You’re going to use her face as a template. Go ahead and add a drop or two of the green airbrush color to your airbrush gun. While you hold the cut-out on the cookie, airbrush lightly all over. You’ll be left with a blank space where you can now paint on Madame Leota's gorgeous mug! I like to use a combo of Food Doodlers in green and black, as well as paint brushes and gel color (mixed with alcohol) to get the face just right. You can also use a KopyKake if you’re not comfortable with winging it. The final touch needed is the hair! Mix in some green gel color to your stiff white icing and pop on a #1.5 tip. You’ll want the hair to be free and flowing; after all, Madame Leota is a ghostly figure trapped inside a crystal ball! There is NO wrong way to do this!
Let the cookies dry completely before packaging them. I know it's tempting, but don't just shove them all into your mouth at once.