Want to express your creativity and play with your food at the same time? You can do both, and get in the holiday spirit, by making a gingerbread house.
Don't fret if constructing one from scratch is beyond your baking or engineering skills (ask us about the year we learned the hard way that gingerbread walls aren't strong enough to support a roof fully shingled in Necco wafers). This month, several places across Long Island are offering classes for the gingerbread-challenged. They'll supply gingerbread pieces ready to assemble, or a pre-assembled house ready for you to decorate, plus frosting and candy for trimming.
Many libraries offer free gingerbread workshops for patrons; check with your local branch. Here's a sampling of other options; register early because classes fill up fast.
THE BAKING COACH: 9:30-10:45 a.m. or 11:15 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 at Port Jefferson Village Center, 101 E. Broadway, Port Jefferson, 631-543-8608, thebakingcoach.com
Cost: $35 per family (up to four people); additional people $3 each
Lisa Basini, aka the Baking Coach, offers her workshop as a benefit for the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund and Generation Rescue, Jenny McCarthy's autism organization. Each family receives pre-cut gingerbread pieces, frosting and candies to assemble and decorate their house. "To do a pre-constructed house takes all the suspense out of it," says Basini, who runs workshops for libraries like the one at Island Trees last week and is also available for private gingerbread lessons.
Also try: Catch her workshop at Commack High School Wednesday, Dec. 9 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. It's $20 ($15 residents) plus a $15 materials fee (1 Scholar Lane, 631-912-2153, email@example.com).
LITTLE CHEFS: 12:30-2:30 p.m. or 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15 at 9 Soundview Market Place, Port Washington, 516-767-7633, littlechefs.com.
Also 12:30-2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 9 and 12:30-2:30 p.m. or 5-7 p.m. Dec. 14 at 33 Jackson Ave., Syosset, 516-496-0754.
Cost: $55 per child, ages 2-12
In this action-packed drop-off class kids do an art project, decorate a pre-assembled gingerbread house and a family of gingerbread people, have story time, and make oven-baked chicken, potato latkes, chocolate eggnog and sufganiyot (powdered doughnuts). The stores will set up additional classes for groups of five or more kids.
VIKING COOKING SCHOOL: 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 and 6-8 p.m. Dec. 22 at 835 Franklin Ave., Garden City, 516-877-1010, vikingcookingschool.com.
Cost: $59 (ages 7 and up)
Each participant gets a pre-assembled house to decorate.
Cost: $27.50 per family (reservations recommended)
At this year-round "university," families receive a pre-assembled house and choose from decorations themed to Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, says founder Frederick Terry. "Some families do one side Christmas and one side Hanukkah." Can't get there this month? Go in February to make a Valentine's house, or in July to make a summer cottage.
A LA CARTE CULINARY SERVICES: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday,
Dec. 12 at 32 Atlantic Ave., Lynbrook, 516-599-2922, alacartecs.com
Cost: $99 per house
Polly Talbott serves participants mulled cider as they decorate pre-assembled houses.
Talbott is also offering a class in "creative gifts from the kitchen" 6-9 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 10. Knock out your holiday shopping in one day as you make truffles, macadamia nut brittle, cranberry orange nut bread and candied pecans, $99.