This country-as-can-be project adds a cheerful rustic touch to your holiday decor—and is so fun to assemble, you can start raising the roof now. —TASTE OF HOME TEST KITCHEN PREP: 3 HOURS + STANDING BAKE: 50 MIN. + COOLING MAKES: 1 BARN AND ABOUT 2 DOZEN LARGE COOKIES 21/₄ cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature 1 cup molasses
²/₃ cup light corn syrup
2 tsp. ground ginger
11/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
81/2 to 9 cups all-purpose flour Assorted food paste colors
11/2 cups butter, softened
11/2 cups shortening
³/₄ cup water
3 Tbsp. vanilla extract
12 cups confectioners’ sugar 1 pkg. (14.4 oz.) graham crackers 3 cups Golden Grahams cereal 1 thin butter ring cookie Decorating sprinkles and candies 1 sour candy belt
Sugars and edible glitter Unsweetened shredded coconut
Thin pretzel sticks and rods Sugar ice cream cones
2 large marshmallows 40 miniature marshmallows 2 black jelly beans
2 black candy coating disks
Chocolate river stones
1. For dough: beat shortening and sugar until fluffy. Beat in the eggs, molasses, corn syrup, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Add flour, 1 cup at a time, until dough can be formed into a ball. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and easy to handle; add more flour if needed. Cover; chill dough for several hours or overnight.
2. Trace barn patterns onto cardboard; cut out. Cut out the windows and animals.
3. Line a baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll one-sixth of the dough directly onto the baking sheet into a rectangle about 1/4 in. thick. Position a barn pattern on the dough. Using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, cut quantities noted on each pattern piece. Cut out windows where indicated. Remove pattern. Remove the dough scraps; cover, refrigerate and re-roll if needed.
4. Bake at 350° until edges begin to brown, 12-14 minutes. Remove from oven; immediately replace barn patterns on cookies. Cut around edges to trim excess cookie if necessary. Cool until firm, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on wire rack. Repeat with remaining dough and patterns.
5. For silo roof: Cut a 5-in. dough circle. Turn a standard-size muffin tin upside down; spray bottom of one cup with cooking spray. Mold dough over and down cup sides; trim excess. Bake at 350° until golden brown, 10 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes on tin. Cool roof completely on a wire rack. If needed, trim to fit.
6. If desired, use remaining dough for animal cutouts. Bake large cookies at 350° for 12-14 minutes, smaller ones for 6-7 minutes.
7. For barn: Test cookie pieces to make sure they fit snugly. If needed, trim pieces with a serrated knife.
8. Combine 4 tsp. water and 1/2 tsp. red food coloring. Carefully brush onto front, back and sides of barn. Dry completely overnight.
9. For icing: Cream the butter and shortening. Add water and vanilla; beat until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar; mix well. Cover with a damp cloth.
10. Insert #10 tip into pastry bag; fill two-thirds full with icing. Squeeze a wide strip of icing onto the bottom edge of back barn piece. Position on a rectangular display base about 7 in. from one short edge. Prop with small cans until icing is firm, 3-4 hours.
11. Squeeze icing on the lower edge of one side piece and side edge of back piece. Align at a right angle as tightly as possible; prop up. Repeat with other side of barn. For added stability, squeeze icing along inside edge of all pieces and corners.
12. Squeeze icing onto the bottom and side edges of the front piece; position with other assembled pieces. Prop up; let dry completely.
13. To assemble barn roof: From heavy-duty cardboard, cut two 101/2x31/2-in. pieces (A). Also cut two 101/2x21/2-in. pieces (B). Tape one long edge of pieces A and B together with masking tape; repeat. Tape A pieces together to form center roof peak.
14. Squeeze icing on the upper edges of the slant of the front and back edges of the barn. Carefully place roof so peak is centered between front and back. (There will be a 3/4-in. overhang on both.)
15. To cover roof, cut the graham crackers to fit. Using icing, attach in rows, beginning from bottom.
16. To decorate barn: Using a #5 tip, outline windows and doors with white icing.
17. For shutters, cut the graham crackers to fit window on front of barn. Pipe edges and diagonal line with white icing; dry completely. Adhere shutters with icing. For door, cut one graham cracker into fourths. Secure three pieces together horizontally with icing; pipe icing around edges of door and make an “X” in center. Let dry completely. Adhere door to barn with icing. Pipe icing onto roof; decorate with coarse sugar and edible glitter. Frost base around barn and silo. Use shredded coconut to create snow.
18. For the markings on animals, thin a small portion of the icing with water. Tint icing as desired for each animal. Pipe on as desired.
19. Secure animals around barn with icing. To make path, spread a thin layer of icing onto board and attach chocolate river stones.
TEST KITCHEN TIPS Buy chocolate river stones online or where local cake decorating supplies are sold. If you plan to use your barn for display only, you can use white or hot glue to adhere pieces instead of icing.