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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Gingerbread you can catch

I didn't really like gingerbread when I was little, but whenever we went to Pizza Hut I begged and pleaded for a Gingerbread Man. I'd eat all the icing, and pick at the gingerbread, wishing there was more icing. Thinking back now, I'm not sure whether I didn't really like gingerbread, or if I just didn't really like Pizza Hut gingerbread. My days of thinking that Pizza Hut's all-you-can-eat was THE meal of choice for a special birthday celebration are long behind me, and I'm pretty sure that they don't even make Gingerbread Men any more, so this may forever remain one of life's mysteries.

Despite getting off to a rocky start, gingerbread and I now get along famously. Instead of taking me back to feelings of eating too much pizza and going overboard at the dessert bar (oh man I so badly wanted one of those in my house!!) it now makes me think of Christmas and Sweden and snow and glögg. I've had a hankering for glögg ever since the festive season kicked into gear, but it's just not doable in 35 degree weather. Beer is definitely winning out as drink of choice, but doesn't pair with gingerbread quite so nicely (even if it's ginger beer).

I first made this gingerbread recipe for Christmas gifts last year, evidence of which you can see in my blog header figure. I liked the recipe so much that it has now apparently made it into my Christmas gift recipe collection. Making these cookies is also a great antidote to all the food and booze sneaking its way into your system at this time of year, as rolling out the chilled dough requires the strength of twenty atom bombs for a fair bit longer than twenty seconds. If you're struggling with this, just let the dough warm a little more - warmer dough isn't as easy to work with once rolled, but you'll still get fine results.

Zoom go the stars across the table and into my mouth

Ginger Christmas Biscuits
From taste.com.au

Makes roughly 75 biscuits


140g butter
1 cup (160g) brown sugar
1/2 cup (175g) treacle
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups (600g) plain flour
2 tsp baking powder


1. Melt the butter, brown sugar, treacle, cinnamon, ginger and cloves in a saucepan over a medium heat. Set aside.

Treacly spicy goop, good for what ails you

2. Stir in the eggs and vanilla essence. Stir in the flour and baking powder until smooth. Divide the dough into 3 portions. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until firm.

Dough run run run, they dough run run

3. Preheat oven to 180°C. Line two baking trays with nonstick baking paper. Using seemingly every muscle fibre in your body, roll out 1 portion of the dough to 4mm thick between 2 sheets of baking paper (the top layer of paper may not be necessary, depends on your rolling pin). Use Christmas cookie cutters to cut out biscuit shapes. Place on the trays.

4. (At this point you can use the end of a piping nozzle to make a hole in the top of each biscuit, and then once they're baked you can use ribbon to string them up on your tree). Bake for 5-10 minutes or until golden and firm (this takes a bit of trial and error to figure out how long to bake them for, and also depends on how soft/crisp you want them). Repeat with the remaining dough portions. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

I had some dough scraps left over so I got out my alphabet cutters and spelled out the names of the toddlers of some of the people I was giving these treats to, so they'd have their own little special tiny treats. I'm glad none of them were called Wilhelmina or Bartholomew.


Simply Life December 21, 2009 at 3:39 AM  

Oh those came out perfectly! They look great!

Karine December 21, 2009 at 6:29 AM  

Miam gingerbread!

As for Pizza Hut, don't worry about it. I think it is just normal to go through a stage when we think Pizza Hut is amazing.

Anonymous December 21, 2009 at 6:56 AM  

I'm inspired! Where can I buy treacle?

Forager December 21, 2009 at 9:34 AM  

The childhood gingerbread men I got really turned me off them for years. Always rock solid and gross. That's before I discovered the good stuff - and Italian gingerbread. So good! Your biccies look just like them, soft, gooey and so yummy!

Adrian @ Food Rehab December 21, 2009 at 10:12 AM  

These look tasty- nice work with the letters!

Iron Chef Shellie December 21, 2009 at 12:42 PM  

The letters are so cute!
ahhhh... the good old days of Pizza Hut's all you can eat... I remember people playing with the jelly making it look all festy... :P

mademoiselle délicieuse December 21, 2009 at 1:34 PM  

Love the look of the cut-out letters!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef December 21, 2009 at 1:46 PM  

Simply Life - thank you!

Karine - thanks :) if I ever have children I'll try not to get too exasperated when they go through this seemingly inevitable phase ;)

Anonymous - excellent!! I bought mine at the supermarket (Coles, to be precise). It was in the sugar section, around where the syrups are kept.

Forager - it seems like those gingerbread men are more about the shape and less about the actual taste. Mmmmm Italian gingerbread indeed! Thank you :)

Adrian @ Food Rehab - thanks!! I think I could spell out "Adrian" without too much trouble, not sure about the "@" though ;)

Iron Chef Shellie - thank you :) Yes! And playing with the chocolate mousse too, that was super festy!

mademoiselle délicieuse - thank you! Sorry but your name is too long to do ;)

Anonymous December 21, 2009 at 5:06 PM  

Your gingerbread cookies look perfect. None of us in my household like gingerbread. Hence, I never make them :(

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 21, 2009 at 6:41 PM  

Gorgeous gingerbread Conor! I used to love the Pizza Hut Gingerbread men too but totally forgot about their existence up until this second hehe!

Trissa December 21, 2009 at 6:47 PM  

I always have this idea that you could be a good TV jingle writer - your posts always make me laugh (the dough run run run! LOL!)... great gingerbread cookies (is it a cookie or a bread?!) - I love the alphabet ones the best. Bet you wished everyone was named BOB!

MaryMoh December 21, 2009 at 6:59 PM  

Your cookies look so neat and beautiful. I would love some with a cup of hot coffee now.

Kitchen Butterfly December 22, 2009 at 1:33 AM  

Love the stars and the treacle dropping....

pierre December 22, 2009 at 1:53 AM  

Hello we do not have such things as the gingerbread man in France as it is more anglo-saxon !
ANd I understand right now that it is very hot in Perth as it is damned cold in Paris where it snows !4Any way I wish you a merry xmas !
I am pierre based in Paris ; I have a food blog dedicated to french creative food so youy are free to visit ! see you soon ! Pierre

Cajun Chef Ryan December 22, 2009 at 1:55 AM  

Your gingerbread stars are perfect. I like your "jingles" along the way too!
Were we come from, treacle is known as either dark corn syrup or molasses.

Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite December 22, 2009 at 4:18 AM  

Haha! Speaking of gingerbread you can catch... did you check out the bottom of my foodie exchange parcel??? ;-)

Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz December 22, 2009 at 12:27 PM  

Oh...look at the perty stars! I love gingerbead anything (with a glass of milk)!

All the best for you and Happy Holidays and have a great New Year. Wish we could toats it in together! I will have a Zen for you for sure!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef December 22, 2009 at 11:22 PM  

Ellie - thank you! Ahh well, you certainly make up for lack of gingerbread making by making everything else to perfection :)

Lorraine - thanks! You know what, I actually totally forgot about them until I started writing this post and reminded myself.

Trissa - haha thanks mate, will keep that in mind if the whole engineering thing doesn't work out for me. Nooo not Bob, the letters with things in the middle are always a bit tricky. How about Lil, or Ty? ;)

MaryMoh - thank you! Sending you some imaginary ones as I type. (can you please send me some imaginary rocky road slice?)

Conor @ HoldtheBeef December 22, 2009 at 11:41 PM  

Kitchen Butterfly - thank you :) and thanks for visiting!

pierre - thank you for visiting! Yes it is pretty hot here now, meant to be 36 degrees C on Christmas day (probably over 40 where I will be). Wishing you a very Merry Christmas too!

Cajun Chef Ryan - thanks so much :) In Australia, treacle and molasses are two similar but different things... ahh the joys of learning all these different terms in different countries, it can make for some funny mistakes sometimes :D

Mardi - oh my god, they made me say very bad words because they are so awesome!!!

Evelyne - thanks my dear!! Wish we could too, we'll just have to make up for it next time we cross paths. I'll be sure to have a cold beer for you :)

Belle@Ooh, Look December 23, 2009 at 7:25 AM  

Great recipe, and thanks for the tip on rolling out the dough. My weak flabby arms hate any type of strenuous activity!

Stephcookie December 23, 2009 at 8:05 AM  

So cute! Love the alphabet shapes so much, I need to get my hands on some alphabet cookie cutters after seeing that!

CheapAppetite December 23, 2009 at 10:03 AM  

Your ginger bread is so cute! I like both the star and the alphabets. We don't have pizza hut in Thailand until I was about 12 or so. And I don't remember that they made ginger bread man. Must be a novelty item for your country. Too bad they aren't making them any more. Otherwise I would love to try some.

Stacy December 23, 2009 at 11:04 AM  

I have never made gingerbread before--but I love ginger so it is about time. These look great! Thanks and happy holidays!

Anonymous December 23, 2009 at 12:02 PM  

Such a beautiful gingerbread! I love the alphabet letters, so cute!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef December 23, 2009 at 10:31 PM  

Belle - thanks, you're welcome! I have more rolling to do tomorrow, I should get to bed and rest my arms up in preparation (my chest muscles were super sore the next day too... it's probably good for increasing the bust, haha)

Stephcookie - thanks :) I'm so glad I have those cutters now, I think they are going to continue to come in handy (even if they are a pain in the arse to use sometimes)

CheapAppetite - Thank you! I'm really not sure why Pizza Hut of all places decided to make gingerbread men, but I'm sure it was a money spinner with all the kids nagging their parents for one.

Stacy - A ginger lover should make gingerbread for sure, no excuses ;) you're welcome and happy holidays to you too!

5 Star Foodie - thank you!!

Anonymous December 28, 2009 at 4:01 PM  

I miss the simple days of Pizza Hut being an exciting outing, complete with the red plastic cups and not-nice-but-cute gingerbread men!

Conor @ HoldtheBeef March 13, 2010 at 12:44 PM  

katieskitchen - and it was never a proper Pizza Hut outing without leaving feeling horribly horribly ill from going all out at the dessert station (but of course always room for gingerbread!)

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