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Sweet Dreams

Holiday fantasies fashioned with confectioners’ mastery

Photography by Steven Meckler

Gingerbread houses and Christmas candy—both much-loved harbingers of the season—take on a Southwest twist when inspired by the Arizona desert and expressed life-size. We couldn’t resist the allure of a fondant landscape alive with fantastical saguaro, prickly pear and barrel cacti;. various distinctly dressed reptiles reminiscent of our coral snakes; and an almost cuddly mama javelina and her baby. Then, a room-size gingerbread house, complete with a territorial-style roofline and slot windows, sent us into a holiday high. All of these sugary creations were designed and made by a team of 10 chefs and culinarians at The Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain in Marana. Photographed last year to share with you this December, this is our latest installation of a burgeoning tradition here at Phoenix Home & Garden. If you’ve enjoyed our past gingerbread stories, which have included Pueblo-style houses, an adobe church and a midcentury Haver ranch, you’re in for an eye-candy-popping, sweet tooth-satisfying treat.

For more information, see Sources.

Desert flora and fauna are fancifully decorated with gummy bears, chocolate kisses, gum balls, Christmas candy and Swedish fish.


Cactus Garden:
10 days to assemble
300 pounds of fondant
600 pounds of brown sugar
1,000 pounds of candy

Gingerbread House:
400 pounds of honey
856 pounds of sugar
350 pounds of flour
250 eggs
100 pounds of ginger powder
50 pounds of cinnamon
10 pounds of nutmeg


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