Crafting gingerbread houses since age 3, Executive Pastry Chef Charles Froke has mastered the art of gingerbread aesthetics, and this week the Four Seasons Hotel, Washington, D.C. unveiled his latest, brag-worthy creation.
This holiday season's gingerbread house is a replication of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Froke spent a few hours at the site, surveying and taking photos. Much like an architect, he created blueprints of the Basilica, baked hundreds of gingerbread pieces and glued them together with icing.
Made with more than 125 pounds of gingerbread dough, 45 pounds of icing, 10 pounds of icing for snow, 10 pounds of chocolate for trees, 20 pounds of sugar and 1 pound of coffee extract to color icing, the Basilica includes dyed, sugar stained-glass windows with electric lighting and an ornate, blue dome.
Working at the Four Seasons for seven-and-a-half years, Froke each year designs and creates impressive gingerbread replications of D.C. monuments—the Smithsonian Castle, White House, Capitol and National Cathedral. The Basilica will be on display in the Four Seasons lobby throughout the holiday season.
No holiday season is complete without some yummy recipes. Below are two recipes that Froke has kindly shared with Georgetown Patch. I personally recommend the hot chocolate—it's the most decadent I've ever had.
5 cups whole milk
1 ½ cups cream
2 cups milk chocolate
½ cups chocolate chips
½ cups brown sugar
3 tbs caramel sauce
1-In a sauce pot bring milk, cream, sugar and caramel sauce to a boil
2-Pour over chocolates and stir to combine
MEXICAN WEDDING COOKIES
1 cup butter at room temp
½ cup powdered sugar #1
¼ cup powdered sugar #2
1 tsp vanilla sauce
1 ¾ cups A.P. flour
1 cup pecans chopped fine
1-Preheat oven to 275 degrees
2-Using an electric mixer with a paddle cream the butter and sugar#1 until smooth (about 4 minutes)
4-Slowly add the flour. Scrape down sides of bowl after adding
5-Add pecan pieces
6-Using a small cookie scoop. Scoop onto a parchment lined sheet pan about an inch apart
7-Bake until bottom of cookies start to turn golden in color. Let cool
8-Toss cookies in powdered sugar #2. Shake off excess sugar