Barrington’s Ambrosia bakery hosts daily gingerbread open houses
Richard Rivera, owner of Barrington's Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie, builds one of his popular gingerbread houses. They can weigh upwards of 20 pounds. | Photos by Sarah Ewing
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:51PM
BARRINGTON — To many, gingerbread houses are the ultimate Christmas treat.
They are to marvel at with child-like wonder, especially at Barrington’s Ambrosia Euro American Patisserie, where the bakery has turned gingerbread houses into a work of art.
Owner Richard Rivera has been making the massive gingerbread confections at Ambrosia for close to 24 years.
The creations start with Ambrosia’s house recipe for the gingerbread, Rivera explained, then each year the recipe is altered a little bit.
Continually made fresh throughout the holiday season, each one is unique. The gingerbread houses showcased earlier this month in the bakery’s display window vary in shape and style.
Rivera pointed out houses that feature soft rustic stylings; while others offer a wood cabin look, and a few houses were finished with European flair.
A French-themed gingerbread house incorporated the Eiffel Tower, stained-glass windows and a Fleur de Lis on the front of the house. The woods lodge house featured stain glass windows of maple leaves, trees and little deer. Some of the houses also had chimneys made of ice cream cones, with whimsical-looking frosting pouring out.
The gingerbread houses are made fresh, and with a great deal of care and effort.
Rivera builds the edible homes in his spare time, but he also takes orders for customers’ unique desires.
Deborah Rivera, who runs the bakery with her husband, said completing a house with a customer’s special themes is always fun. Some customers choose to come in and watch their gingerbread houses being made, she added.
Most recently, the Rivera’s took on an order for a custom-made gingerbread Asian Tea house.
The final products are typically about four feet long and can weight 20 pounds or more. The pricing can range from $250 to $800, but the average price is generally about $300.
While the houses are completely edible, Richard Rivera added that the gingerbread houses often double as cookie jars, in which he fills with additional candy. It’s a great second-use after the houses sit out for a while, he explained.
Some customers also have wrapped up their gingerbread houses to bring them back the following holiday season.
Rivera also made sure to praise his staff for helping him build the popular treats. The bakery also offers several other decadent pastries throughout the holiday season, including the Bombe Royale. One thing that’s always popular around the holiday season is chocolate, Deborah Rivera added.
Whether shopping for a gingerbread house or Ambrosia’s other treats, the Rivera’s encourage the community to come out and see the impressive display.
“ It brings a lot of joy to see people and children line up to see the houses,” Richard Rivera said.