Remember that childhood rhyme “Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man”? This cheeky chap with a broad smile embodies the spirit of the festive season for me, especially the night before Christmas, when kids are running around with cheer and excitement for the surprises to come. It’s a time when families spend quality time together and sleep, school, work and worry are replaced by laughter, food and happiness.
These sweet, spicy biscuits leave a burn at the back of your throat from the ginger but make you reach out for another because of the sweetness of the syrup (or molasses).
Dating back to the 16th century, Gingerbread Men are the traditional harbingers of Christmas and are the perfect gift to give to party hosts or use as stocking fillers. The first documented instance of figure-shaped gingerbread biscuits was at the court of Elizabeth I of England. She had the gingerbread figures made and presented in the likeness of some of her most important guests. And what a treat it must have been for them, too!
Oh sweet December,~ Charmaine J. Forde
You bring us Charlie Brown, chestnuts and candy canes,
You add such sweetness to your name.
You bring us garland, gingerbread and mistletoe,
You also bring us everything wrapped in a bow.
Oh sweet December – you’re so good to us,
You always prepare us for the Christmas fuss.
Servings: 16-18 Time: 30 mins Difficulty: Easy
- 225g plain flour
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
- 100g unsalted butter
- 5 teaspoons golden syrup
- 50g dark brown sugar
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- 25g chocolate chips ,if you like
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter and sugar together, stirring occasionally until they are melded together and sugar incorporated
- Remove from the heat and set aside to cool
- Sift the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda together in a large bowl
- Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter and sugar
- Add the golden syrup and mix until thoroughly combined
- Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius
- Form the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes
- Roll out the dough on a floured surface to a 5mm thickness
- Cut out Gingerbread Men
- Place on baking trays lined with parchment paper
- Make indentations for eyes and mouths
- Brush the bodies with a little egg white and, if desired, add choc chips for buttons
- Bake for 8 to 10 minutes until slightly firm to the touch
- Allow the Gingerbread Men to cool and firm up in the trays before moving to a cooling rack
- For extra detail, decorate with icing sugar once the biscuits are completely cool