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Two Colorado Hotels Celebrate Holidays with Major Gingerbread Displays

By Beth Buehler

The culinary pros at two of Colorado’s largest and best-known meetings and events properties, The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs and Sheraton Denver Downtown, pulled out all the stops for the 2018 holiday season to impress groups and guests with incredible gingerbread art. It made me think that on a smaller scale, this could be a fun team-building activity for groups!

The Broadmoor is wrapping up its centennial year with its largest gingerbread display ever in the form of a 13½-foot-tall replica of the original 1918 resort. A holiday tradition since 1964, this year’s masterpiece honors the property’s rich heritage and celebrates 100 years of sweet memories. While the actual 1918 building took 13 months and 600 Italian artisans to complete, this year’s gingerbread display spearheaded by executive pastry chef Adam Thomas required four months of planning and more than 10 master pastry chefs and two carpenters devoting 220-plus hours. The first gingerbread display at The Broadmoor was a much smaller but detailed Hansel and Gretel house made of gingerbread and a sugar wafer roof covered with snow icing. Since then, the property’s pastry chefs have dreamed up ambitious gingerbread creations like a near full-size steam engine in 2016 and a 13 ½-foot-tall chapel in 2017 which if consumed, would have meant 3,798,114 calories! Interested in knowing what you’d need to load in a shopping cart to fashion this year’s gingerbread creation?

  • 958 lbs of powdered sugar
  • 475 lbs of flour
  • 650 eggs
  • 19 lbs of holiday spices
  • 200 lbs of honey
  • 128 lbs of molasses
  • 6 lbs of salt
  • 78 lbs of assorted candy, gumballs, and fruit jellies
  • 164 lbs of dark chocolate
  • 89 lbs of butter
  • 3 lbs of baking soda
  • 10 lbs of heavy cream
  • 2 lbs of fresh yeast

The impressive 15-foot-high gingerbread display of Santa’s workshop in Sheraton Denver Downtown is the result of a partnership with Johnson & Wales University’s Denver Campus and Craine Architecture.

It’s the third consecutive year that Sheraton Denver Downtown’s culinary team, led by executive chef Scott Skomal, has partnered with Johnson & Wales University for the Gingerbread Village Challenge. Seven teams of two culinary students participated in 2018 to help create a cohesive design that complements the life-size gingerbread house.

The Sheraton’s pastry team was available throughout the competition to answer questions, offer coaching and support the students and the overall project. Plus, students had access to the hotel’s kitchen equipment, a pantry of food items and a full selection of candy for garnish. The result? The students crafted accessories to complete the workshop, including a carousel, snowman, workshop table, Christmas tree, nutcracker, sleigh and dollhouse.

Representatives from Sheraton Denver Downtown, Downtown Denver Partnership, Johnson & Wales, Craine Architecture and VISIT DENVER judged the students’ creations on Nov. 30 (the same day as downtown’s Parade of Lights) and presented $2,000, $1,500 and $500 to the first-, second- and third-place teams. The Gingerbread Village is on display until January 2, 2019.

Here are some fun facts in case you want to try this on your own!

  • 1,200 pounds of gingerbread
  • 55 kinds of candy that weighed in at 200 pounds
  • 300 pounds of royal icing
  • 2,600 gingerbread shingles (roof)
  • 700 gingerbread brinks
  • 100 hours of baking
  • 630 jolly rancher per sheet pan; 6 sheet pans total
  • 45 min for 1 person to unwrap 630 jolly ranchers