From the look of the past few posts, you might think I’m on a cookie bender! Though I’m sure there are worse addictions to have… And I simply can’t separate Christmas time from gingerbread, so cookies ye shall have indeed.
These cookies/biscuits/etc were inspired by a Donna Hay (#number1fan) recipe I first met a few years ago. This Christmas I thought I’d make them again, but after extensive searching neither I nor my MIL can find the magazine in question (full disclosure: we found it but then I lost it again… baby brain perhaps?!). What I really liked about them from memory (99.99% sure), was that melted chocolate was used IN the cookie dough – none of this cocoa powder for colour but no flavour that I’ve since seen in other recipes.
After some Googling I haven’t found any comparable recipes so I’ve had no choice but to come up with my own! I’ve adapted from a few recipes (including this completely different one from Donna Hay) but I’m proud to say that my own brain cells devised the current combination. I’ve been tinkering with recipes more than usual this year, thanks to the food science journey I’m on – special credit to BraveTart aka Stella Parks for the great baking science she teaches through her recipes on Serious Eats (her new book would make a fab Christmas gift, hint hint any family members reading this!!). I’m looking forward to sharing some more of my own inventions here next year.
These cookies will look glorious iced – which I plan to do for Christmas gifts, and will add some more photos soon to show how I do that. But you don’t have to bother with fussy decorating if you’re short on time (and aren’t we all looking for a few extra hours to fit things in at this time of the year…). I did a batch of this recipe with star cutters for our Bible study and sandwiched pairs together with chocolate ganache – that I just happened to have spare, as only I would – and they went down a treat!
What’s the dominant flavour, you may ask, of a chocolate gingerbread cookie? I would say the chocolate which you taste first, but the kick of the after-bite is a hint of ginger – go ahead and add more if you prefer. But you won’t know until you try making them, so go on…
Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies
Adapted from Donna Hay. Makes around 40 medium-to-large sized cookies, more if you make them smaller.
When the dough is first mixed together it’s very soft so it important not to skip the refrigeration step before rolling it out. This will also help the cookies to keep their shape better if you choose to use cutters (which they work really well with). Extra tips and notes are in italics below.
- 100g butter, salted or unsalted
- 100g light brown sugar (approximately 1/2 cup firmly packed)
- 100g chocolate, melted and cooled to room temperature (I used 72% bittersweet chocolate, the flavour will be stronger with the higher percentages)
- 130g or 5 Tbsp golden syrup (slightly more than 1/3 cup)
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 2 1/2 cups plain flour (approximately 380g)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 Tbsp cocoa powder, natural or dutched
- 3 tsp ground ginger
- Bring the butter to room temperature so it will be soft enough to beat. You can speed this up by cutting it into small cubes and putting it somewhere warm. When you take your butter out of the fridge, melt the chocolate in a separate bowl, so it has time to cool to room temperature.
- In a bowl using a stand mixer or hand beater, beat together the butter and sugar until just combined (a couple of minutes).
- Add the golden syrup, melted chocolate and egg; beat to combine. Note: it is really important that the chocolate has cooled to around room temperature (only slightly warm when tested with your finger) or it will solidify on contact with the other, cooler ingredients and not beat in smoothly.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder and ginger. Add to the wet ingredients in two batches, beating slowly to combine (around a minute each time).
- Tip the dough onto a sheet of clingwrap and squish it into a flattened disc – it should be soft but not too sticky – if you think you’ve added too much liquid, mix in an extra small handful of flour. Wrap up the dough in the clingwrap and refrigerate until solid, around an hour – you can speed this up by splitting the dough and wrapping two discs separately.
- When the dough is solid, remove it from the fridge and put it on the bench. If you have kept it as one large disc, cut it in half with a knife to work with half at a time. Leave it for five minutes to make it a little easier to work with – you can make it even easier to handle by cutting it into small pieces to warm up faster! Work the dough on a floured or non-stick surface until it comes into a smooth ball without crumbling. Don’t work it for too long after it gets to this stage so that it remains cold. Make sure there are no cracks in the top of the dough or those cracks will show up on the cookie surface!
- With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to around 5mm / 1/4 inch thickness. Carefully cut out your shapes using a cute range of cookie cutters and transfer them to a lined baking tray / cookie sheet using an offset spatula. If you have a fiddly-shaped cutter, see the pictures below of the deer cutter showing how to transfer those cookies to the tray.
- Bake the cookies at 160 degrees Celsius (320 degrees Fahrenheit) in a conventional i.e. non-fan bake oven for 20-25 minutes: 20 minutes for fiddly shapes / small cookies, 25 minutes for medium-to-large ones. The relatively low oven temperature slows down the rate of browning, giving your cookies more time to bake without singeing! Leave them to cool on the baking tray.
As I say, watch this space for some festively iced cookies in the near future! Happy Christmas baking – and eating 😉