Best of 2005: House Sweet House

Jo Ann Kottkamp, who runs Especially for You (703-660-9592) out of her Alexandria home, spends most of the year crafting wedding and special-occasion cakes--such as a replica of Fenway Park with working floodlights.

In December Kottkamp shifts her focus to elaborate gingerbread houses. These aren't cottages decorated with gumdrops. Kottkamp's elegant creations have featured stained-glass windows, a skating rink, and a mountain dotted with marzipan skiers. One house, made for Bethesda's Holton-Arms School, featured rooms–visible through the tiny windows–furnished with a candelabrum, fireplace, and bookshelves. Cakes start at $50, houses at $50. Kottkamp likes two weeks' notice.Washingtonian staffers contributing to this section were Cristina Abello, Susan Baer, Susan Davidson, Ken DeCell, Rebecca Dreilinger, Kim Isaac Eisler, Mary Clare Fleury, Kimberly Forrest, Brooke Lea Foster, Garrett M. Graff, Cynthia Hacinli, Thomas Head, Todd Kliman, Ann Limpert, Chad Lorenz, Leslie Milk, Aparna Nancherla, William O'Sullivan, Cindy Rich, and Chris Wilson. Also contributing were Cathy Alter, Ann Cochran, and Matthew Graham.

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