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Lemon Shortbread Candy Birdhouse by Shelly Kennedy

Each holiday we make elaborate gingerbread houses, it's a tradition from my husbands family. One year we did holiday/winter bird houses... and i kept thinking how fun it would be to make it in the spring and decorate with a palette of spring candies.

So this year I did!

I tweaked our gingerbread recipe to a lemon shortbread, added lemon extract to the royal icing and the finished touch -covered it in spring candy. It smells soooo good, fresh and springy! Embellished with gum-balls and set on a blooming bed of mint jellies. I gave this edible bird house the "drooz studio" treatment!

Maybe not really a traditional craft, but some serious fun for the entire family!.. and a great way to get rid of leftover Easter candy.

So here it goes:

You need 2 batches of shortbread dough..(so double the ingredients list below for purchasing)

BUT: mix one batch at a time otherwise it will not fit into the mixer/bowl

yield: makes one bird house and about 8-10 cut out cookies for decorating.

Ingredients
(this makes ONE batch - you will need TWO: pls don't double - it is best to mix 2 separate batches )

• 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine , at room temperature
• 1 cup light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup corn syrup
• 6 tablespoons powdered lemonade
• 2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon lemon extract
• 4 cups all-purpose flour
• 4 tablespoons water

Royal icing Ingredients
• 4 egg whites (*see note below)
• 4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
• 1 teaspoon lemon extract

Gingerbread House:
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter add brown sugar, corn syrup, lemonade, baking soda and lemon extract together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and water to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Step by Step:

1. Cut paper patterns for the gingerbread house, click here to download the templates.

2. Roll gingerbread dough out to approx 1/4" thick (thicker is better than thin) (i like to cut the dough on parchment paper or a silpat baking mat- this makes for an easier transfer to the baking sheet)

3.Place paper patterns onto the rolled out dough. With a sharp, straight edged knife, cut around each of the pieces, transfer to baking sheet. (lightly grease baking sheet if NOT using parchment or silpat baking mat)

4. Bake at 375 degrees F for about 15 minutes until dough feels firm.

5. Once cool, assemble house. Please note that the sides of the completed birdhouse are angled a bit. it is easiest to assemble “on end” (see picture) ... start with back of birdhouse on surface, add sides, front (use lots of icing!, prop in place with with heavy items while icing dries... preferably overnight!) add roof, and decorate!

Directions for Royal icing: (use with piping bag and round tip)
1. Beat egg whites in a clean, large bowl with mixer at high speed until foamy.
2. Gradually add sugar and lemon extract. Beat at high speed until thickened.
*NOTE: instead of egg whites, i prefer to use meringue powder (such as Wilton's -found at craft stores) very easy to work with - and not the risk of raw eggs.

Be creative and have fun!

Shelly

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