From VIP entrances in Versace to service entrances in my apron

Gingerbread Art

December 8, 2015

In 1986, I did a shoot for Harper’s Bazaar on wearable art. One of the pieces happened to be this jacket featuring art by my friend Kieth Haring. It turned out to be a propheticfashion shoot.


Julie Anne Rhodes in Harper’s Bazaar


It was my first clue that I was pregnant with Tatjana when the photographer, Albert Watson, reminded me “we’re shooting Harper’s Bazaar, not Playboy” in his cheeky Scotish way. None of the clothes would close over my suddenly enormous cleavage, so what better piece of apparel could they possibly have adorned my body with?


Tatjana Rhodes with Gingerbread house past


One of Tatjana’s and my favorite holiday traditions has always been baking and making gingerbread houses together.


Tatjana Rhodes decorating Keith Haring style


This year we decided… why not honor a dear friend and create something a little more interesting, so we decided to make Keith Haring gingerbread cookies instead.


Keith’s baby and ours


Since this project began with that old modeling pic, we decided to start with the gingerbread baby…


Keith’s dog and ours


… then my impish pup, Daisy (begging for dough) inspired the gingerbread dog, and…


Keith’s angel and ours


… the gingerbread angel would be in honor of Keith who left us all way too young, but will always be remembered with deep affection.


Julie Anne Rhodes & Keith Haring


He would definitely approve of a mother and daughter having some holiday fun together, and I’d like to think he’s grinning from ear to ear over being remembered like this.


Keith Haring Gingerbread Art


Servings: 12



  • parchment paper for tracing and cutting guide

  • images you would like to make in gingerbread

  • all-purpose flour + extra for dusting

  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar packed

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening or unsalted butter

  • 1 cup Karo syrup

  • 2 large egg whites, room temperature

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1 tablespoon water

  • 1 pound powdered sugar



1).Tatjana suggested she find some images online that I would then trace onto parchment paper for a cookie cutting guides in the dough. 


2). Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flour through allspice together in a large mixing bowl.


3). Melt brown sugar, vegetable shortening (or butter), and Karo syrup together in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until combined. Then add to dry ingredients while still warm, using a mixer with dough hook, stir until just incorporated. The dough will be crumbly, but will come together as you roll it out still warm.


4). Dust the counter with flour to prevent dough sticking to it. The dough must still be warm as you roll it out. If it cools too quickly place it into a warm oven for 2-3 minutes to soften, then gently roll it out to an even 1/8″ thickness. Place parchment stencil over dough, and cut around edges carefully with a paring knife. Carefully transfer gingerbread shapes to a nonstick baking sheet. 


5). Bake in preheated oven 10-15 minutes, until dark golden brown all over. Remove from oven, cool 5 minutes, then carefully loosen edges using a spatula to place onto cooling racks to cool completely. 


6). While gingerbread is cooling, mix royal icing ingredients together in a mixer fitted with a wire whisk. Start slowly, so powdered sugar does not fly out everywhere, and gradually increase speed to medium-high. Beat for 5 minutes, or until stiff peaks form. Add a little more water to loosen consistency, or add a little more powdered sugar to stiffen until you have the desired consistency. 


7). Fill a pastry bag fitted with the desired tip, and decorate gingerbread to match your original print outs from online.


This post was first published December 14, 2009

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