Time for the annual work Christmas party. My colleague and I thought it might be nice to give individually wrapped biscuits to every staff member as a little ‘thank you’ gift, and gingerbread seemed like the obvious choice.
Then it suddenly occurred to me that I’ve never made gingerbread before… how weird is that?! So, I looked about and found a great recipe on Chelsea.co.nz which seemed to be well received, though a few reviewers felt extra spice was needed. Coming from Dutch stock, we like our spicy biscuits, so I added in some cinnamon and allspice which worked really well. In fact it was so delicious it was mighty difficult not to eat the dough then and there!
The recipe is as easy as. Just one thing to note, especially for those of us who celebrate Christmas in the heat of summer – the biscuits can spread somewhat and puff up a little when baked, especially if the dough is warm. So work with small portions of dough at a time (keeping the rest in the fridge), try not to over-handle the dough (it helps to roll them between sheets of baking paper) and, if necessary, chill the dough a second time just before baking.
This particular recipe, with its use of brown sugar as opposed to white, renders a reasonably moist, chewy biscuit. If you prefer your gingerbread bikkies crisp, roll them out thinner and bake them a couple of minutes longer. Either that, or use half brown sugar, half white.
Oh, and make sure you give yourself adequate time to do the icing. As you can plainly see, my biscuits look as though they were iced by a 6 year old – that’s what happens when you’re endeavouring to ice nearly 50 biscuits right on dinner time! Hardly elegant I know, but I’m sure you’ll forgive my first attempt! Besides which it’s all about the taste and, on that score at least, I can promise you perfection!
CHRISTMAS GINGERBREAD BISCUITS
- 2 cups plain flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tbsp ground ginger (I added 1.5 tablespoons for a stronger flavour)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 firmly packed cup soft brown sugar
- 5.2 oz unsalted butter (cubed, room temperature)
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp Golden Syrup
For the icing:
- 1 egg white
- 1-1/2 cups icing sugar (confectioner's sugar)
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Lollies (candy – I used mini M&Ms.)
For the biscuits:
- Preheat oven to 180°C (360°F). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
- Place the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, salt and sugar in a bowl or food processor. Add butter and rub in with fingertips or pulse in food processor until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add egg and golden syrup and stir or pulse to mix. If the dough is sticky, add a little more flour until it forms a workable dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Roll out on a lightly floured surface or between two sheets of baking paper until 5mm thick (or thinner if you prefer crispier biscuits). Cut out shapes using biscuit cutters and place on trays, ensuring there’s a bit of room between the biscuits in case they spread. Form leftover dough into a ball and re-roll and repeat cutting out until dough is used up.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes (or up to 12 minutes for a crispier biscuit) until golden brown (they will still be a little soft at this stage, but will firm up as they cool). Cool on a wire rack.
For the icing:
- Make icing by beating egg white with a fork until frothy. Fold in the other ingredients and place icing in a piping bag with a small round tipped nozzle and pipe decorations onto each biscuit. Use icing to attach lollies of your choice.
- Store in an air-tight container in a cool area. They also freeze very well.