I’m afraid last week rather got away from me and as a result it’s double whammy day! Two posts for the price of one will be hitting your inbox today. Why you ask? They’re both recipes in the Perky Christmas Series and, given that it’s the big day tomorrow, I’m rather running out of time!
So the first recipe of the day is for Gingerbread Snowmen. Well, just gingerbread biscuits really. You can obviously cut them into whatever shapes you so desire. Stars, snowflakes, hearts, rounds, trees. The world is your oyster.
Like the biscotti I posted about last week, these little men make great gifts too, or just a good 11 o’clock snack. If you make a hole in the top of them ahead of cooking them, you can also thread ribbon through and use them to decorate your tree. I saw a great recipe by Lorraine Pascale using bashed up boiled sweets to make a stained glass effect in a hole cut out of the middle of the biscuits, which would look stunning as a tree decoration. Recipe link to a similar one is here – I can’t find the Lorraine version online I’m afraid.
They’re very quick and easy to make and would be a great activity for children too. Given how messy I got when decorating them (chocolate literally everywhere), I imagine the decorating process would be carnage with children but probably all the more fun for it! Or perhaps I’m just messier than your average child…
The dough is very greasy but this makes it easy to roll out, especially if you do so on baking parchment so you can transfer your cut out men straight to the oven. Don’t make the mistake I first made though and put too many men on one tray. They grow a little when cooking and if they’re too close together with grow into each other so you just end up with a sheet of gingerbread. Not a bad fate, but not quite the effect I was going for!
I made my men quite thin (about the thickness of a £1 coin) as I like them to snap when you bite into them, but if you like a slightly softer middle, just double the thickness to two £1 coins.
I absolutely love the combination of dark chocolate and ginger and toyed with the idea of dunking the whole biscuit into a vat of molten dark chocolate. Deciding this would be a little greedy, I piped a little dark chocolate decoration onto each biscuit using a mini piping bag made out of baking parchment (again, thank you Lorraine who showed me how to do this…similar instructions here). But you could use some icing sugar mixed with a little water or orange juice to make a white icing paste and use this to stick sweets to the men instead. I’m thinking along the lines of Gingy in Shrek…”Not the buttons. Not my gumdrop buttons”!!
However you choose to decorate your men/stars/trees/etc, they are sure to look beautiful and taste divine so happy baking!
From the BBC Good Food recipe for a gingerbread house
Makes 30 men
125g unsalted butter
100g dark muscavado sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
50g dark chocolate (to decorate)
1. Preheat the oven to 200°c/180°c fan/gas mark 6. In a medium saucepan melt the butter, sugar and syrup together. Add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger and mix well.
2. If you don’t have a cookie cutter, cut out a template in your desired shape. Halve your dough and turn half out onto a piece of baking parchment the same size as your baking tray. Roll the dough out to the thickness of a £1m coin for thin snappy biscuits or two £1 coins for slightly thicker ones.
3. Cut out your shapes and remove the dough around the sides. Make sure there is a little space between each biscuit for them to grow a little in the oven.
4. Cook for 8-12 minutes (8 for the thin ones and 12 for the thick) until the biscuits are just firm and have browned slightly around the edges. Repeat with the extra dough.
5. Allow the biscuits to cool a little on the tray before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Melt your chocolate in a small pan in the meantime and pour into your piping bag. Trim a little off the end of the nozzle and carefully pipe your chosen design onto your men.
6. Either serve once the chocolate has firmed up or store in an airtight container for more than a week.