For the past few years I have been making Christmas Gingerbread Cookies. That's not to say that I don't make gingerbread cookies all year round, but this way they look extra special when decorated for Christmas. The cookies make a great gift for family and friends. This year I made them for my Christmas Dress-Up Party and work colleagues, and they went down a treat. The following recipe makes about 35-37 cookies.
Ingredients for Gingerbread Cookies
125g unsalted butter
100g brown sugar (firmly packed)
125ml golden Syrup
1 egg yolk
375g plain flour (and a little extra for dusting)
2tbs ground ginger
3tsp mixed spice
1tsp bi-carb soda
With an electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until creamy. Add the golden syrup and egg yolk and beat until combined. Sift flour, spices and bi-carb soda and add to the mixture. Once combined, taste the mixture as this is the best time to tell whether you need to add more spice. When you're happy, turn the mixture on to a floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth. If the mixture is a little too wet, slowly knead in some flour. Break the dough into two parts and flatten them to the shape of round discs, then cover with cling wrap and refrigerated for 30mins-1hour.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface to approximately 1cm thick (you may need to knead the dough first to make it workable). Using your desired cookie cutters, cut out the shapes and place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. I have a set of Christmas cookie cutters which are fantastic and use the shapes that I think are easily recognisable once decorated. Bake the cookies for 10mins or until brown at 180'C. Careful not to over bake them, as they can burn quite easily. Let the cookies cool on a wire rack.
Before placing the fondant on the cookies, I use a thin spread of my Dark Chocolate Ganache on top of each cookie. This helps the fondant stick to the cookie. Alternatively you could use jam with a little boiling water to create a syrup (although make sure you strain the liquid as it needs to be smooth).
You can buy fondant from any cake decorating store. I buy it in white and then add the desired gel colour (also found at decorating stores). Some colours are best to buy pre-mixed, as you cannot physically reach the colour depth with gel colour. I strongly recommend buying red fondant pre-mixed and coincidentally my red is called Christmas Red. Please note that when you are not using the fondant, it should be covered in plastic (cling wrap or freezer bags) as it will dry out quickly. For each different cookie's decoration you will need approximately a handful of fondant in order to cover about 6 cookies.
These are very simple as you can use white fondant and do not need to colour it. Roll out the fondant to desired thickness (I aim for 2-3mm) on a flat surface sprinkled with corn flour - this will stop the fondant from sticking. Cut out the shape with an angel cutter and place it on top of the cookie. Use you fingers to perfectly mould the fondant on to the cookie.
The snowmen are exactly like the angels (follow instructions above). For the cute little hat, knead equal parts of red pre-mixed fondant with white. This is necessary as the pre-mix will be quite sticky and hard to work with on its own. Make a large amount of red as it will also be used for the candy canes and red poinsettias. Once rolled out, I use the top of the snowman cutter for the shape and then use a knife to trim the hat. For the eyes and mouth, use a skewer or something similar to poke holes in the fondant.
Your white fondant will need to be coloured for these cookies. Use your thumb to create a well in the centre of a ball of white fondant and place a few drops of dark green gel colour (I use Forest Green). Knead the fondant until the colour is blended. Once the colour is even (and the right shade), roll the fondant out to desired thickness (I aim for 2-3mm) on a flat surface sprinkled with corn flour. Cut out the tree shapes and use your hands to mould the fondant to fit the cookie.
As done for the snowman hats, knead equal parts of red pre-mixed fondant with white. This is necessary as the pre-mix will be quite sticky and hard to work with on its own. Make a large amount as the red will also be used for the candy canes. Roll out and cut the fondant, and place the shape on the cookie.
These are done exactly the same as the poinsettias. Roll out and cut the red fondant, and place the shape on the cookie. You can also make white and red candy canes, and use strips of the alternate colour to wrap around the cookie.
Now it is an absolute requirement that you try one (or two, or three) of your fabulous gingerbread before sharing them around! These gingerbread cookies are a great gift for those special to you in the festive season. All the effort and love you have put into gifts such as these make them even more special to the receiver. I use clear cellophane to wrap the cookies and tie a nice red ribbon for decoration.