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Edible Philipsburg Manor on Display at Ritz Carlton

Photo of the Ritz Carlton's gingerbread replica of the Philipsburg Manor historic site in Sleepy Hollow, NY. (Courtesy)
Photo of the Ritz Carlton's gingerbread replica of the Philipsburg Manor historic site in Sleepy Hollow, NY. (Courtesy)
Written by Rasheed Oluwa

Anyone who happens to be near the Ritz Carlton, Westchester in White Plains should step inside and check out the replica of the Philipsburg Manor historic site on display.

It’s almost good enough to eat.

“It was made by hand, using gum paste,” said Irma Rios, one of the three Ritz Carlton pastry chefs responsible for making the gingerbread replica. “All things you could eat. The little cat sitting outside the window, the two men—the whole house is edible.”

On Monday, the hotel unveiled its 270- pound gingerbread representation of the Philipsburg Manor inside its lobby. The replica will be on exhibit for about a month.

Philipsburg Manor, located in Sleepy Hollow, was a thriving farming, milling and trading center in the 18th Century that was run by the Philipses, a family of Anglo-Dutch merchants who took over the property in the late 1600s.

Rios, along with Samantha Cohen and Jackie Veliz have been building gingerbread replicas of local historic sites to display at the hotel for the past three years.

The first year, the trio built a replica of Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in Irvington. They followed that up last year with a replica of Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate, in Sleepy Hollow.

“As a group, we came up with the concept and the chefs, being the experts, come to us and tell us if it can be done,” Jeff Dziak, general manager of the Ritz Carlton, said. “It’s been three years in a row and they’ve hit three home runs.”

The chefs pick their projects by scouting Hudson Valley locations that are popular and can be replicated using candy. Once they find a site, the crew spends a number of hours drawing up plans before moving forward with construction.

It took 150 man hours to sketch, bake, assemble, and decorate the houses which were made of 50 pounds of powdered sugar, 35 pounds of cake flour, 15 pounds of granulated sugar, 10 pounds of brown sugar, 8 pounds of butter, 8 pounds of eggs and 7 pounds of egg whites.

A handmade motorized water wheel, a gingerbread/gum-paste bridge were also added. Anyone who looks closely enough may also notice the 15 varieties of candy that were used for decorations, which range from Kit Kats and M&Ms to jellybeans and gummy bears.

Veliz said the most exciting part about building the replica was the water wheel.

“This year, we really wanted to build the motion piece,” Veliz said. “We wanted to add a different element to it. The most difficult part about the entire structure was conceptualizing everything we saw at the Philipsburg Manor into one piece.”

The construct is held together by royal icing, which is made of egg white, cream of tartar and powdered sugar.

“It’s the traditional icing for gingerbread houses and the reason why we use it is because it becomes really hard and stiff,” Cohen said. “It’s kind of like an edible glue. It’s very sweet, but it doesn’t really taste that great since it is really hard.

Cohen said the crew will check on their creation throughout the month to see if any touch up work needs to be done.

“We’ll see if any candy goes missing, if there are any cracks in the gingerbread and if it’s in good condition,” Cohen said.

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