It's a holiday staple that's good enough to eat. But making a gingerbread dream house isn't kid's stuff.
Gingerbread walls, candy shutters, frosting trim. The stuff of fairy tales becomes reality in this kitchen at the Ritz Carlton Washington during the holiday season.
Dozens of gingerbread houses are crafted, mass production that no one seems to mind.
"It brings a nice flavor in the room and when you come in the room with the gingerbread house, you can smell it, the smell brings the holidays here," said Arnaud Chavigny, executive pastry chef.
Like any house, Chavigny says a solid foundation is key, but looks are important too.
"If it's too heavy, it's fine, but when the wall and everything is too thick, it's not pretty. We want to have something more delicate as well. What I will say also is we have to make sure we don't overcook because if we cook too much then it will be crumbly and cracked," he said.
The other crucial element is a simple icing acting as glue to keep the house together, and to decorate.
"I bring a little bit more fun, and more color," said Chavigny.
It's made of egg whites, icing sugar, and a drop of lemon juice the chef says makes things dry faster, though his houses usually sit an entire day before decorating.
"Icicles, and that gives a nice touch to the house," said Chavigny.
The most important question: just how long can I admire it before I eat it? The chef says that depends upon how much heat and dry air it's exposed to, though it's likely many, won't make it too long.