Just in time for Christmas, here it is, the spicy version of my shortbread style sugar cookie recipe.
It's not a tough gingerbread, suitable for construction, it's a delicate, crunchy biscuit, perfect with a rich vanilla icing (or just as it is!) baked long and low until it's crisp. I've swapped out the usual powdered sugar for light muscovado, which is a bit more of a faff, but it makes such a difference to the flavour and colour.
You can find my Vanilla Bean recipe here
and my Dark Chocolate recipe here!
190g light muscovado sugar
1 large egg
2 ½ tsp orange essence
385g plain flour
3 ½ tsp ground ginger
3 tsp ground Cinnamon
2 tsp ground mixed spice
1 ¼ tsp ground allspice
¾ tsp salt
Sift all the dry ingredients together and set aside. Carefully push the muscovado sugar through a seive with the back of a spoon; it gets clumpy, and is too moist to simply shake the seive. Toss away any hard lumps that won't break up.
Gently but thoroughly mix the sugar with the butter, taking care not to whip for too long (helps to keep the cookies from spreading). Beat the egg in a cup, then add to the sugar/butter mixture. Add the orange essence at this stage - I think it would be lovely to try adding orange zest too - if you give it a try let me know how it turned out!
Add half the dry ingredients and mix on low, then add the rest. Mix on low only long enough to ensure the dough is fully incorporated and otherwise the cookies may become tough and distort a bit when cooling.
At this stage, I usually divide the dough in two, roll out in resealable plastic bags between cookie slats to keep the thickness even, and freeze the slabs until I want them. No mess, no fuss. I prefer to cut and bake cookies from frozen slabs of dough as they're so much easier to handle. For these little houses, I simply cut them out with a ruler and scalpel.
Bake in a low oven (around 150c) for 8 minutes, take out and gently flatten the tops with a fondant smoother or other flat implement, and pop back in the oven for as long as it takes until the cookies are thoroughly crisp without burned edges. How long will depend on the size and shape - a three inch cookie will need anything up to 15 minutes more. (I keep checking every few minutes.)
I made a little video of decorating one of the houses:
I wanted this little night time town scene to showcase each of my recipes with minimal icing: vanilla bean stars with edible gold and silver speckles, spicy houses and snowflakes, and dark chocolate leaves and acorns on the ground.
My kitchen has never smelled so good!
*I have two of the tins (below) left this Christmas, for £39 inc p&p to UK. There are three layers, each 14cm x 18cm: one dark chocolate leaves and acorns, one of spicy houses and snowflakes, and one of vanilla stars with gold and silver. The cookies are heatsealed and will be good to eat until well into January. Let me know if you're interested, and I can pop them in the post this coming week!*