Thinking Outside the Gingerbread Box

By: Gina Clowes, Director of Education, FARE

In our family, we don’t have a ton of traditions. Although I like things orderly, I was never one to insist on things being done the same way year after year.

One of the silver linings of this mindset is that I can think outside of the box pretty easily, which came in handy when my son Daniel came along with multiple food allergies. During the holiday season, delectable gingerbread houses seemed to pop up everywhere,  and with allergies to seven of the top eight allergens, 90% of the ingredients weren’t safe for him.

I wanted a decoration that my son could help build, but also one that would not pose a danger if he decided to sneak a piece during the holiday festivities (something that was guaranteed to happen).

As I perused the baking aisle, the flour, buttery frostings, nuts, coconut, marzipan, puddings, cookies, and piecrusts were all off limits.

So I switched my focus to what he could have and as I did, the sugar cubes caught my eye. I knew that we would build an igloo and we started that night! Daniel and I had a blast wedging each little sugar cube in place over the frosted bowl and placing the little gummy pine trees in place. It was adorable and my son was really proud of our creation. I hope you enjoy it too!


How to Make a Sugar Cube Igloo

An allergy-friendly alternative to a gingerbread house.

This igloo is an adorable alternative to the traditional gingerbread house. And the kids can help make it!

Here's what you'll need:

  • Cake board (purchase from a party supply or craft store)
  • A bowl (ours was 6 inches wide and 5 inches deep)
  • Safe white icing (about 2 cups)
  • One box of sugar cubes
  • One ice cream cone
  • Pearl sugar (or white snowflake sprinkles)
  • Spearmint leaves
  • 4 large white gumballs
  • Fruit roll-ups or taffy
  • Safe sprinkles and jimmies
  • Gummi penguins

First, put a few tablespoons of icing in the center of the cake board. Spread it around a little wider than the bowl. Turn the bowl upside down into the icing so that it is secured onto the cake plate.

Frost the bowl generously with about a cup of icing. Beginning at the bottom, place the sugar cubes all around, going row by row until you reach the top.

Using a serrated knife, gently cut the narrow end off of the ice cream cone, and then cut that in half, vertically. The remaining shape should be like a “C” and you may discard the rest of the cone. Place a tablespoon of icing on the cake board, in front of the igloo, and place the piece of cone, open side down, to form the entrance of the igloo. Place a piece of blue taffy or fruit-roll up inside the entrance. Frost and cover with sugar cubes. (You can also use an empty paper towel holder for the entrance.)

Spread the remaining icing in the area around the igloo. Decorate with gumball snowmen, penguins, or other safe decorations. Sprinkle everything with the pearl sugar, pressing it into the icing that surrounds the igloo. And it's done!

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