During the holiday season, visitors to the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort in Marana, Ariz., can have dinner inside a 20-foot-tall, one-of-a-kind gingerbread house.
Scott Craven of The Arizona Republic explained visitors to the Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain Resort in Marana, Ariz., can see a life-size gingerbread house, rising 20 feet to the top of its peaked roof. Inside the gumdrop-studded home is a six-person dining table ready to host those who have made a dinner reservation, the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic reported.
“Oh my, it’s like walking into a fairy tale,” Fatima Pereira said as she stepped through the doorway. “This is amazing.” The Brazil native, who moved to Tucson in April, said she’d never seen anything like it: “There is nothing like this in my country.”
The outer walls and peaked roof are covered in half-inch-thick gingerbread bricks, mortared in place with royal icing. The windows are outlined in candy canes. Hundreds of gumdrops and hard candies provide the architectural embellishment one would expect from a creation worthy of “Better Gingerbread Homes and Gardens,” the Republic reported.
The ingredients needed for such a large undertaking included:
• 856 pounds of sugar
• 400 pounds of honey
• 350 pounds of flour
• 100 pounds of powdered ginger
• 50 pounds of cinnamon
• 10 pounds of nutmeg
• 250 eggs
Chefs began in October, diving into a daily routine that lasted weeks. They mixed the dough, rolled it out and formed the bricks with a specially designed cookie cutter. Dozens of sheets were baked at a time, and pallets filled with gingerbread bricks lined the halls outside the kitchen, pastry chef Amanda Taylor said. “The project threatened to take over everything,” she said. “It was one of our biggest holiday projects ever.”
Each year the hotel’s pastry chefs, led by head pastry chef Daniel Mangione, devise and create a gingerbread-based structure designed to awe guests. A similar house was built last year, but guests were not allowed in it because of questionable structural integrity. This year’s house design performed flawlessly and with a few minor adjustments, was able to be created as a dine-in house, the Republic reported.
The home first was framed in two-by-fours and plywood, a necessity as gingerbread’s load-bearing capabilities fall short of building codes outside the North Pole. Construction workers put it together as quietly as possible in the far left corner of the lobby, making sure to take advantage of the fireplace setting, the Republic reported.
Once the frame was finished the week before Thanksgiving, chefs worked three days in eight-hour shifts affixing bricks to the house. How many bricks? “A ton,” Taylor said, describing what some visitors feel they are hit with when they first see the building. “It took a long time to put everything on,” Taylor said. “One person applied the icing, the other would put (the brick) in place. At the end we had to pipe icing between the bricks for the look of mortar.”
Candy was affixed in various patterns. By the time it was done, it looked like something out of Hansel and Gretel. Good thing, because some of the candy has gone missing, Taylor said. The doorway, for example, sported dollops of icing where gumdrops once were. Suspiciously, candy at least 4 feet up and higher remains in place, the Republic reported.
The chefs don’t mind the occasional confectionery vandalism, as repairs are simple to make. Taylor warned of the consequences of chipping off bit of gingerbread to sample, though. Each gingerbread brick contains large amounts of spicy ginger and nutmeg, imbuing the lobby with a delightful scent. The gingerbread was baked in a way as to dry it out, making each brick more durable, but not tasty, the Republic reported.
“Anyone eating this gingerbread would know right away it’s pretty bad,” Taylor said. “I’d never recommend it.”
The gingerbread house will remain open for dinner through December 23. The house can accommodate up to six diners for a three- or four-course dinner. Once the holiday season is over, the same chefs who put up the gingerbread house must tear it down. It involves a lot of scraping, Taylor said, with gingerbread dust filling the air creating a most delightful scent, the Republic reported.