Gingerbread Nativity

Friday, December 25, 2015

Day 6 of the Holiday Baking series at Recipe Shoebox brings us this awesomely awesome gingerbread nativity (totally edible).   Make sure to come back every day in December for lots more goodie recipes!

Given the facts that I love sweets,  I love getting my kids into the kitchen, and I love figuring out ways to help the kids remember the real reason for the Christmas season...this project was a no-brainer for me.  I knew that I would make it, the second I laid eyes on it in Pinterest.    If only I could have remembered that the grocery store is a lame place to buy candy.  After two stops and still no large gumdrops, mini candy canes, or  black licorice I was getting a little nervous.  Then I went to Walgreens.  They had all the candy I needed, at better prices, and in more reasonable sizes than the grocery store.   Then we had so much fun making them ( four of them altogether),   that I didn't even mind too much that the entire dining room table and much of the floor was coated with a sugary  residue afterward.  Enjoy!   

Man, I just can't help but smile every time I walk by these on the shelf! 

Click here for printable recipe. 

Posted by Lara.

The ingredients:

(NOTE:  I recommend going to a drug store {like Walgreens} for the candy items, since the drugstore offered smaller size packages than the grocery store, plus the grocery store didn't carry a couple of the items.)
(ANOTHER NOTE:  We didn't actually end up using the lifesaver mints and the Snickers did NOT end up working for us, so I recommend Milky Ways instead.  Also the picture shows a box of flat toothpicks, but I highly recommend the round toothpicks instead.)

1 pkg. graham crackers or gingerbread (5 whole graham crackers for the stable, another 1 for the manger)
Royal icing
or store bought cookie frosting in a tube (one tube was plenty for the four nativities we made)
1 cup shredded coconut
yellow food coloring

2 large marshmallows
Black licorice

6 mini tootsie rolls
1 snack-size soft chocolate candy bar (Milky Ways worked the best for us)
Chocolate frosting
(or black gel) (optional)
1 pkg. large gumdrops
1 pkg. small gumdrops
2 fruit roll-ups (ideally in different colors)
Mini candy cane

1 pkg. round toothpicks (the flat toothpicks did not work well in this project)
Knife or scissors with sharp point
Flat surface for mounting the Nativity (we used cut pieces of cardboard)


You will need 5 whole graham crackers (or gingerbread sheets), a flat surface (cardboard or platter), and the Royal icing (or store-bought cookie frosting in a tube).  Place stripes of the frosting on the narrow edges of 2 graham crackers and set onto your flat  surface so they are standing upright.  (If you mess up and place it in the wrong place first, you may need to add more frosting before proceeding).  Quickly place another graham cracker over the top of the 2 standing graham crackers, having the standing graham crackers tilting inwards slightly.  Hold in place for 5-10 minutes, or until structure is stable enough to stay together.  Trim the edges off of the remaining 2 graham crackers, so they will fit behind the stable without much overhang (this is not an exact science).  Place generous stripes of frosting along the flat,  narrow edges of these 2 graham crackers and carefully set behind the stable.  We found the addition of these graham crackers along the back provided an extra element of stability to the structure.  Set stable aside where it will not get jostled. 

You will need 3/4 of a whole graham cracker, some royal icing (or the store bought cookie icing), and a sprinkling of the coconut hay.  Using the lines on the graham cracker, carefully break it into fourths.  You will need smooth edges on at least two of the fourths.  Place a generous stripe of royal icing down the center of one of the fourths.  Place the other two fourths in a v-shape onto the stripe, adding additional icing along the seam for stability.  Hold in place until the icing has set and the manger is somewhat sturdy (about 5 minutes).  Place a little sprinkle of hay into it and set aside for the baby Jesus. 

Place the coconut in a bowl, add 5-6 drops of yellow food coloring and stir until coloring is evenly mixed.  Add more drops until the coconut takes on a nice hay-like appearance.  Set aside.

TO MAKE THE SHEEP (make two):
You will need 1 large marshmallow and 1 piece of black licorice per sheep.   Using the point of  a sharp knife or scissors, place 4 small slits in the bottom of each marshmallow where the licorice legs will be inserted.  Make one more slit, in the middle of the front where the head will be.  Using the sharp knife or scissors, cut the licorice into about 1-inch long pieces.  (You may want to keep a wet wipe nearby to wipe off the knife/scissors as they get sticky. ) Place the cut licorice pieces into the slits you have made.  This will take some force to get them into the squishy surface of the marshmallow.  Wiggle and jostle the licorice until they are in the marshmallow somewhat well.  Trim the licorice if necessary to make all of the legs evenly sized.  Set aside. 

You will need 5 mini tootsie rolls, 1 snack size soft candy bar (Milky Ways worked great, Snickers were too hard),  6 round toothpicks, and chocolate frosting (optional).  With the scissors or knife, cut two of the tootsie rolls in half lengthwise.  Push toothpicks about 3/4 of the way down into each of those halved tootsie rolls. The tootsie rolls are pliable so they may get a little squished as you spear them with toothpicks.  Reshape the candy as necessary to maintain an elongated donkey leg appearance.  Poke the toothpicks on the legs into the bottom side of the snack size Milky way candy bar, one in each corner.  For the neck, get another whole tootsie roll and spear it completely through lengthwise with a toothpick (you'll want both ends to have toothpick sticking out).    To add the head, get another whole tootsie roll and place it perpendicularly through the top of the neck toothpick.  Adjust the angle (and shape, if necessary) so it looks like a donkey head.  Now, take the head and neck piece and place the bottom part of the toothpick into the body of the donkey (the top, middle edge of the candy bar with legs). For the tail, take another tootsie roll and shape it into the lovely shape of a donkey tail.  Place a toothpick into the top of it  (you may need to trim the toothpick slightly) and place it into the backside of the donkey.   At this point, you may need to do a little adjusting the legs/neck/head/tail, to improve the donkey-ness of its appearance and so that it will stand independently.   For a finishing touch you can add a little mane if you wish, using a little chocolate frosting. 

You will need 2 large white gumdrops (for the body), 1 small white gumdrop (for the head), 1 large yellow or white gumdrop (for the wings), and 3-5 round toothpicks.  To make the body, place the toothpick through the center (top to bottom) of a large white gumdrop.  Add the other large white gumdrop on top of that one.   Next, add the head by placing the small white gumdrop on the top of the large gumdrops.  Check to make sure  that the toothpick is not poking through the bottom.  Now onto the wings.   We were out of yellow and white large gumdrops, so I used a white gummy jelly wreath (similar to gumdrops).  If using a large gumdrop, cut it in half top to bottom.  Place 1-2 toothpicks all the way through (trimming it if necessary) and place it into the side of angel in appropriate wing placement location.  If using a white jelly wreath as I did, simply cut it in half and attach as above.  My jelly wreath wings needed the extra stability, so I had to use two toothpicks for this.  Make sure that the angel can stand and adjust the toothpick placement as necessary to center it better. 

(Just a quick note about the pictures below:  I did not end up using the lifesaver mint.  I had thought of using one as a halo, but it did not look right.  Additionally, the only reason why I used a white jelly wreath instead of another large gumdrop for the bottom, is that our package of gumdrops was short on white ones.)   

You will need 3 small white gumdrops (if you're running low on white gumdrops, it's only important that the one of them be white), a round toothpick, and 2x4-inch wide strip of fruit roll up.  Place the three gumdrops top to bottom onto the toothpick.  Leave the top and bottom gumdrops  rounded side out. Trim the toothpick.  Wrap the gumdrops in the  fruit roll-up strip, to resemble swaddling clothes.  Set aside taking care not to let it get into the coconut yet, or it will get all speckled. 

TO MAKE MARY, JOSEPH, AND THE SHEPHERD (make each a different color): 
For each person you will need 2 large gumdrops of the same color, 1 small gumdrop in the same color as large, a round toothpick, a narrow strip of fruit roll-up (cut with tapered ends), a mini candy cane (only for the shepherd), and a very small amount of royal icing/cookie frosting.  For the body, spear the two large gumdrops top to bottom with the toothpick.  Add the head, by placing the small gumdrop in the same color on top of the two large gumdrops.  Take care that the toothpick is not poking out the bottom and trim it if necessary.  Make sure that your person can stand independently  Cut a narrow strip of a fruit roll-up to resemble a simple headdress.  To add the headdress, place a very small amount of icing along the top of the head and put the fruit roll-up strip along the head (trimming it if necessary).  Make adjustments as necessary to improve the person-like appearances of these.  Repeat with each of the other people, using a different color of gumdrops for each.  The mini candy cane will go along side of the shepherd as its crook. 



Get your stable, which should be nice and sturdy now if you made it first.  Squeeze a little frosting over the roof of the stable and sprinkle some coconut hay.  On the front corner of the roof, put a bigger dab of frosting and put the angel into place.  Now it's up to you.  Play around with each of the pieces until you find a lay-out that you like.  When you've decided where everything will go, put a little dab of the icing on the bottom of each figure and put it into the place.  Allow to set for 5-10 minutes.Place a sprinkling of the coconut hay around the "ground" and a little in the manger.  Now find somewhere to show off your beautiful and edible creation! 

hee hee!  I just couldn't help but laugh when I saw my little nephew's hand in the picture above with my daughter and her nativity.  :)


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About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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