There is still time in some parts of the world to hang cookies in the Christmas tree before Santa shows up.
Here's a honey sweetened gingerbread cookies recipe from Annie Bell's Baking Bible (Kyle Books USA, Fall 2013) that fits the bill.
This is the classic honey-sweetened gingerbread of Germany and Austria, which appears in so many different forms there—from the shell of your gingerbread house to the cookies that hang on the tree.
The spices can be varied, and a pinch of ground cardamom, cloves or nutmeg can be included, too, but ginger and cinnamon are a must.
This is a great recipe for involving children, the more dexterous can make the cookies, and the more artistic (for which read young) can decorate them. A kit of cookies, icing and ribbon, also makes a good present for any friends’ children, nephews or nieces.
Makes 18 – 20 stars
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup superfine sugar
¼ cup honey
1¾ cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 large egg
2 nonstick baking sheets
4-inch star-shaped or other cutter
Vegetable oil for greasing
All-purpose flour for dusting
White writing icing
Ribbon for hanging
Slowly heat the butter, sugar, and honey together in a small saucepan, stirring until melted and smooth. Working off the heat, add the dry ingredients and stir until crumbly, then add the egg and work to a dough. If the mixture seems very sticky, you can add a little more flour. Tip out onto a work surface, bring it into a ball, and then pat it between your palms until you have a pleasingly smooth and shiny dough. Wrap in plastic wrap, leave to cool, and then chill for several hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 300°F convection oven/350°F conventional oven, and brush a couple of nonstick baking sheets with vegetable oil. Thinly roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut out 4-inch stars. A cookie cutter is the quickest route here, but you could also make a template from cardboard and cut around that. Roll the dough twice and arrange the cookies on the baking sheets—they don’t spread much, so you can place them quite close together. If you are planning on hanging them, make a hole at the base of one of the points of the star using a skewer.
Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes until golden. The holes will have closed up slightly in the oven, so make them a bit larger using a skewer. Loosen the cookies straight away with an offset spatula before they harden and become brittle, and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool. Ice them as you wish and leave this to set for an hour or two.
(* Recipe from Annie Bell's Baking Bible -Kyle Books USA, Fall 2013- reproduced with permission, Photography by Con Poulos)