Whether making gingerbread men, stars, or Christmas trees, making gingerbread figures is fun!
This recipe produces a sweet gingerbread without being too sweet, with a mild, rather than overwhelming, ginger taste.
The figures are decorated with white chocolate and smarties.
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These gingerbread biscuits are delicious and fun to make, sweet without being too sweet, and with a mild, rather than overwhelming, ginger taste.
I used a standard gingerbread man cookie cutter and a Christmas themed cutter set, before decorating with melted white chocolate and smarties. Royal icing is an alternative to melted chocolate, and creates even more opportunity for decoration, but I prefer the taste of chocolate.
Start by mixing together all the dry ingredients. I sieved the flour to remove lumps, before adding the bicarbonate of soda, the ground ginger, and ground cinnamon.
Using a big wooden spoon, turn the ingredients over to ensure they are thoroughly combined.
My preferred way of melting butter is in a microwave. Slice the butter into small cubes before heating for 30 seconds in a microwave on a low power setting. Turn over the butter cubes and repeat as many times as needed for the butter to become soft.
Add the two types of sugar to the butter. I think the combination of soft brown sugar and caster sugar helps to improve the flavour of the gingerbread. Give the mixture a really good stir to ensure there are no sugar lumps remaining.
Next, for extra flavour, add a teaspoon of orange essence. The orange essence is not essential, but it complements and brings out the flavour of the other ingredients. Then the yummy golden syrup, and finally an egg
When the mixture is thoroughly mixed together it can be poured into the flour mixture. I used a wooden spoon to stir together all the ingredients and finished the process by hand. Hand finishing is the easiest way to ensure that the final dough incorporates all the flour.
Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Rather than using all the dough at once, break off a sizeable portion and roll this out to an even thinness of half a centimetre thick. Use the cookie cutters to press out the shapes.
The left over dough can be added back to the dough ball. Repeat this process until all the dough is used up.
The cut out figures should be lifted carefully onto non-stick baking paper or reusable silicon baking sheets.
The gingerbread does not need long in the oven, that should be pre-heated to 160 °C and baked for 12 minutes. If you like really crunchy gingerbread leave it in the oven for an extra couple of minutes. They are ready when the edges start to brown.
Remove the gingerbread from the oven and allow them to cool completely. This can take up to one hour, but it’s worth watching them, just in case they run away.
I think the big advantage of using melted chocolate for decoration is that however the final designs come out, the chocolate will improve the taste.
Melt the chocolate in a microwave following the same process as for melting the butter. Do not overheat the chocolate as this can spoil its taste.
When melted, prepare an icing bag, remembering to add the nozzle. I chose the smallest nozzle I had. Spoon in the melted chocolate.
I think the first biscuit or two is for eating rather than presenting. The designs of the gingerbread improved the more I made. The trick is to squeeze the icing bag gently and with an even pressure.
The smarties can be stuck on by first piping out a blob of chocolate, and gently pressing a smartie on top. Do not try and move the smarties until the chocolate has fully set.
With patience and practice, the collection of gingerbread figures should be ready for sharing with friends and family.
They can store for several days in an airtight container.