1. Roll chilled dough on a well-floured surface to a 1/8-inch thick square.
2. Line your cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place template on top of dough; using the tip of a sharp paring knife, trace the shape. Transfer shapes to parchment-lined pan, and chill in refrigerator for 15 minutes.
3. Remove dough from refrigerator. Sprinkle crushed red candies in the spaces cut out for the windowpanes. The candy will melt and create a stained glass effect for windows (optional). Bake 20-30 minutes until center is firm; don't let edges get too dark. Cool completely before removing from parchment.
4. Assemble your components and build your house (see main Gingerbread Houses article). Fill your piping bag with royal icing. Pipe a thick line of icing on the bottom (base) edge of the first side wall. Stand side wall on your sturdy foundation, icing side down, 2 inches in from the edge of the "yard." Hold for about 5 minutes to set; use cans from your pantry to stabilize--one on each side of the wall--and hold it in place.
5. Pipe a thick line of icing onto front edge of side wall. Pipe icing along base of front panel and press edges of walls together at a right angle. Hold walls together for about 5 minutes and then hold up with cans. Pipe icing along the front of the vertical seam where the two walls meet, and along the bases to stabilize.
6. Add second side wall to the front panel in the same fashion: stabilize with icing, hold to set, and prop up with cans. Pipe icing on vertical seam and along the base.
7. Pipe more icing and reposition cans to stabilize walls, if necessary.
8. Add back panel: pipe icing along edges of side walls and along the bottom of the back panel. Press the back panel into place and hold for 5 minutes. Carefully reach inside the house from above and pipe icing along all bases and seams to reinforce the walls. Use cans for support, if needed. Let stand for 30-60 minutes until dry and hard before adding the roof.
9. Remove cans from inside the house before assembling the roof. Pipe a line of icing along the diagonal edge front wall, continuing to pipe icing along edge of top of adjoining side wall, then up the diagonal edge of the back panel.
10. Pipe a line of icing around the inside edge of the roof panel, and press it into place. The top edge of the roof should align with the edges of the front and back panels.
11. The edge of the roof should create an "eave," an overhang of about ¾ inch or so. Hold the roof panel in place for 5 minutes. Pipe additional lines along roof joints, and carefully reach inside the house pipe inner seams as well. Repeat with second half of the roof. If necessary, prop up the roof with cans to hold the panels in place. Let the house sit a minimum of 6 hours or overnight so that the icing can harden.
12. When the house is assembled and dry, you can begin decorating! Start with the roof. Spread icing over the entire rooftop.
13. Begin at the bottom edge of the roof. Pipe a thin line of icing to adhere roof tiles. Apply candy wafers in rows, alternating colors. Rows should overlap the previous tiles slightly, about an eighth of an inch.
14. When both sides of roof are tiled, pipe a line of icing across the peak and cover with two rows of mini marshmallows.
15. Pipe a thick line of icing along base of house using a star tip. Decorate base of house with candies.
16. Outline the pathway and spread with icing. Alternate rows of licorice and candy. Pipe icing along the edge of the path and use red candy-coated chocolate pieces as a border.
17. Using a star tip, pipe a decorative swag of icing up the front edges of the house, from base to peak. Press black licorice ropes lightly into the icing. Pipe dots of icing on the licorice and decorate with candy "light bulbs" for Christmas lights.
18. The front door is left ajar. Outline door using a small tip and create little pearl drops. Use this same piping around your windows. At the base of the windows create a snow ledge with a thick star tip.
19. Spread yard with icing and sprinkle with coconut. Add lollipop trees, fence, pine trees, and presents.
20. Finishing Touches:
These accessories can be assembled in advance, while you wait for the house to dry.
Wreath: Pipe a circle of icing on parchment paper and fill in with additional icing. Starting from the outside and working inward, arrange Christmas candy corn to make a wreath. Let dry completely. Pipe a small amount of icing on the back of wreath; hold in place a few minutes on the front of the house to adhere.
Front door: Decorate with a wheel-shaped candy for the window; top with icing "snow."
Gingerbread kids: Bake gingerbread people cut-outs, and decorate a boy and a girl.
Pine tree: Dip ice cream cones in the melted almond bark and use tweezers to trim the trees with pumpkin seeds, silver balls, and red cinnamon candies.
Lollipop trees: Cut off curved ends of candy canes. Insert top end into a round fruit slice. Adhere bottom of candy cane to a wheel-shaped candy with icing to stabilize the tree.
Fence: Four pretzel sticks per fence section, affixed with royal icing.
Presents: Small square cookies decorated with green piping and sliced candies.
Cart: Attach pretzel squares to a graham cracker quarter. Make wheels with the wheel-shaped candies and red cinnamon candies; attach to cart with icing. Fill with presents. Fill with snowy "hay"--shredded wheat biscuits.
Snowman: (Optional addition--see Candy Cane Gingerbread House instructions)