The Willmore family in Springville has a tradition each Christmas of building specialty gingerbread houses, and this year's has a special meaning.
In honor of the Provo City Center Temple, the family started a bit later, on Christmas Day, to have a building that could be displayed and enjoyed by friends and neighbors as they prepare to tour the restored building.
Jacob Willmore, a Brigham Young University student, is the design master of the project. In the past he and the family have constructed the Cathedral at Notre Dame, the Empire State Building, the London Tower Bridge, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Newel K. Whitney Store.
“We like something recognizable and fun, but hard to build,” Jacob said.
Jacob's mother, Michelle, said this year’s temple project used 12 batches of Jacob’s special gingerbread recipe. It has 124 stained glass windows made with melted Jolly Ranchers hard candy. The marble window sills are made from Big Hunk candy bars.
“I enjoy doing the design planning,” Jacob said. “The others are good at the finishing touches.”
While Jacob, his sister, Elise, and his brother, Nathan, are the go-to constructors, the rest of the family has been known to give their opinions and help out when necessary.
“I was in charge of breaking the Jolly Ranchers,” Elise said. “We used ice cream cones for the towers. Moroni is made with small candy beads and chocolate. The horn is a toothpick covered in fondant.”
To put the gilding on Moroni, Elise used gold fingernail polish. She used Wheat Chex for the temple shingles and spray painted them black.
For Elise, the most time-consuming project was breaking up bags of Jolly Ranchers and melting them into the windows as they cooked the gingerbread.
Michelle makes wedding cakes and knows how to make fondant that will keep the building together, but it also takes a bit of glue and lots of hands to hold it together while applying it, Elise added.
When all the bits and pieces were put together, the final cost for the gingerbread temple was approximately $50.
“Some days we’d work on it all day. We started Christmas Day and averaged about six to seven hours a day,” Jacob said. “It took us approximately nine days to complete.”
When asked what they do with the buildings after the holidays, Jacob said the family has typically taken them outside and blown them up with M-80 firecrackers.
However, the Provo City Center Temple gingerbread house may not get the same treatment. It’s been rather popular, and the Willmores even took it on the road to a special fireside on the temple — they live in the LDS temple district.
“It’s been the most entertaining of all the buildings,” Jacob said.
When asked if the family, which is growing up and leaving for school and LDS missions, will do another building next year, Jacob and Elise agree it’s a possibility.
“We might do it again but go simpler,” Jacob said. “I’m thinking maybe a lean-to or an outhouse.”