The blocks? Don’t lick.
A gingerbread house on display embodies Christmas tradition, craftsmanship, and flavor. And the Christmas temptation: the impulse to break the porch a little, test the eaves, relieve the facade of candied decorations. Or take a lick of the puff pastry bricks.
None of that will happen this year at the Bellagio Conservatory, where the giant gingerbread house in the Christmas display is housed inside a gigantic replica of an embellished Faberge egg, separated from the attentions of seasonal revelers by a pond. artificial.
The Bellagio gave the Review-Journal exclusive behind-the-scenes access as the home was built, finished and installed. It turns out that the tradition required three months, a crew of 10, and a pallet jack.
Too tall to get through the door
The Victorian-style house is built on a foam undercarriage. Batches of dough were rolled out into sheets, then pressed with a mold to form surface details on the chocolate-coated bricks and tiles. Fondant coated gingerbread forms the columns. A snowy tower crowns the house. Icicles of rhinestones and faux gemstones adorn the façade. The edible icing acts as a mortar, holding things together.
Philippe Angibeau, Bellagio’s executive pastry chef, led a 10-person team that designed the gingerbread house, which is on display, along with the rest of the Conservatory’s exhibit, through January 1.
“We would work on it for an hour or two at a time,” he said, “depending on the volume of business.”
The house was going to be too tall to be built on the Bellagio Bakery, so it was built in a special kitchen space whose door frame was removed to allow egress. The finished house is 7 feet tall and 5 feet wide and weighs 440 pounds. When complete, the house was lifted by pallet jack, then rolled down several hallways, through the casino, and into the Conservatory.
“It’s fragile,” Angibeau said of the gingerbread house, the largest he has ever assembled. “Many things fall down on the way to the conservatory that we have to fix.”
Chocolate Gingerbread Tree Perfume
The Conservatory’s Christmas showcase for 2022 is titled “Gingerbread Dreams, a Holiday Confection.” In addition to Victorian gingerbread and Fabergé eggs, the exhibit includes 6-foot chocolate trees also created by Angibeau and his team. A custom scent, “Gingerbread Dreams,” will meander with notes of clove, cinnamon, vanilla, and apple.
Unlike so many dramatic culinary displays created for casino events, the gingerbread house will have a much longer lifespan.
“Usually it only lasts one night,” Angibeau said. “At least this lasts a month and a half.”
For the first time, a variety of gingerbread cookies, chocolates, popcorn and other sweets from the Bellagio Bakery can be purchased on display, in the alcove behind the southern flowerbed, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily .
The original plan was to incorporate the gingerbread house with the retail offerings, but the change was certainly a wise move. Temptation and all that.