I asked some of my own personal favorite food bloggers to share a holiday treat with us over our holiday break. I am especially glad to have this post from Madalene, who lives in England and writes the lovely blog the British Larder. It's a treat, and always worth a visit.
Wow…I had so much fun making these perfectly pretty but rustic festive ginger Christmas cookies. The worst thing was that I was all on my own so it would have been perfect and even more fun if I had been joined by some friends. I must confess that I had edible glitter and pink Royal icing all over the kitchen, in my hair, stuck to my face… just about everywhere.
The recipe for the ginger cookies is one of my old classic favourites but I normally make gingerbread men with this recipe, however the beauty of this recipe is its versatility and it could be used for nearly any shape your heart desires.
I started making these cookies to give them to friends and colleagues but then it came to me they would be perfect for my Christmas tree too. I made the first batch with holes in the raw dough but because these were not large enough, I could not thread the string through the holes. Armed with this "knowledge" I set off the second time more prepared and I made the holes in the raw cookie dough fairly big and I re-enforced these when they came out of the oven and the cookies were still warm. I used this very rustic red string but you can use pretty colourful silky ribbons of your choice.
I love this idea to customise your Christmas tree , so no one else would have the same decorations as you, clever?!?
Once I got into the swing of things I decided to get the edible glitter, that I use on my cup cakes, from the back of the larder and dust my cookies with the glitter. It's very pretty when the light falls on the glitter and the sparkle is enhanced especially when you have the candles lit in the room, it's picture perfect. Who said decorating a Christmas tree needs to be expensive or boring?
1kg plain flour
4tsp bicarbonate of soda
4tsp ground ginger
2tsp mixed spice
300g unsalted butter
400g dark Muscavado sugar
300g golden syrup
4 medium free-range eggs
Royal Icing in colours of your choice
Silver balls and other decorations
String or ribbon to match your colour scheme
Cut the butter in small pieces; let it come to room temperature.
Once the butter is soft, cream the butter and the sugar.
Add the golden syrup and the eggs one at a time, mix well after each egg.
Sieve the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda together.
Gently fold the flour in to the creamed butter mix.
Divide the ginger biscuit dough in to two even sizes.
Well wrap each part in plastic and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours.
Preheat the oven to 150°C.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface roll the ginger biscuit dough out to about 5mm even thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut the shapes, arrange the biscuits on the prepared tray, leave at least 1cm gaps as they do swell and get stuck. Use a sharp knife to make holes for the ribbons, be generous with the size of your holes as they close up easily.
Bake for 15 – 18 minutes, until golden but not too dark. Immediately re-enforce the holes to make sure that the gaps are big enough for the ribbons before the cookies cool down too much. If you make the holes after they have cooled down they cookies will break, disaster!
Let the biscuits cool on a cooling rack.
Decorate with royal icing and garnish with edible glitter or a garnish of your choice.
Thread ribbons or string through the holes.
Keep the ginger biscuits in an airtight container or hang them immediately on your festive Christmas tree.
1 large egg white
1 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
165 g icing sugar, sifted
Colouring of your choice
Mix all the ingredients together to a smooth paste, if the icing is too wet add more icing sugar and if it's too dry add more lemon juice. The icing goes hard quickly so make it when you are ready to use it. I make little portions at a time so that I can play with the colours. It's very important to sift the icing sugar to prevent lumpy bits.
Use a piping bag to pipe shapes and garnish the biscuits. I used a small pallet knife or butter knife to spread the icing over some of my cookies and it does give a lovely effect, dust them with the glitter before the icing sets.
The British Larder
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(Images: Madalene Bonvini-Hamel of The British Larder)