We always make this recipe in my family at Christmas, sometimes varying the amount of sugar or using wholewheat flour instead of plain. Remember that in baking, every ingredient is doing its part, so if you cut back on the sugar they won’t be as crispy. If you go for a lighter honey and white sugar, they won’t turn that lovely caramel colour. If you use all sugar and no syrupy element like honey or molasses, then the texture will change. And lastly, believe me when I say both the texture and the flavour are a thousand times more glorious if you prepare the dough the day before you plan on baking.
150g softened butter
200 grams Demerara (dark) sugar
2/3 cup dark honey OR maple syrup OR molasses
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
3.5 cups plain flour
2 tablespoons powdered ginger
1/4 cup fresh chopped ginger (optional)
ground cinnamon (1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon depending on your preference)
ground nutmeg (1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon depending on your preference)
ground cloves (1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon depending on your preference)
1 teaspoon bicarb soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips to decorate
- Cream softened butter with sugar.
- Add honey/syrup/molasses and mix well.
- Beat in egg.
- Add vanilla and stir will.
- In a separate bowl, mix your dry ingredients of flour, ginger, spices, bicarb soda and salt.
- Pour half the dry mix into the wet and stir. Pour in the remaining dry mix and mix until your batter forms a solid ball of dough.
- Roll out with a rolling pin (or a wine bottle if you don’t own a rolling pin 😉 )and then cover with wrap or a plastic bag and refrigerate for three hours or preferably overnight.
- When you are ready to cut and decorate your gingerbread, preheat your oven to 180 degree Celsius.
- Working with slightly chilled dough makes it a lot easier to cut crisp shapes. After decorating with chocolate chips, I like to return the tray to the fridge to firm the cookies up again before they hit the oven.
- These cook very quickly so keep an eye on them. I like my gingerbread men a little soft in their bellies so I take them out after about 8 minutes but you could keep them in for 10-15 if you like the traditional crispier gingerbread. Remember, cookies always firm up a lot more once they cool so even if they seem a little pale in the light of the oven, it’s better to take them out before they go golden. Happy baking!!