Thursday, 12 December 2013

Christmas gifts: gingerbread "stained glass" cookies

For the past few years I have made some little gifts for Sophie to give to her school friends (see last year's marshmallow snowmen and 2011's reindeer noses).

This year, time has been limited so I decided that Sophie and Justin could help me make gingerbread window cookies. This is something I did a very long time ago with the guides and I still think they are very pretty and surprisingly simple.

I made some gingerbread dough and chilled it until the kids came home from school. Then they rolled and cut out lots of cookies, in christmas tree, snowflake and holly leaf shapes, The christmas tree cutter was one I already had for making window cookies and is designed to cut the big and little tree in one go but the snowflake and holly leaf cutters are solid and so we cut a small flower from the middle of each cookie.

I bought some Foxes Glacier fruit sweets and then popped similar colours into freezer bags and bashed them to bits. It is okay to have a few lumps in it still. A word of warning on this bit though - make sure you have an old chopping board or similar underneath. And use a hammer! My kitchen table now has a multitude of little dents from these very solid sweets, as does our kiddies wooden rolling pin!

I then sprinkled the crushed sweets into the hole in the middle of each cookie, mixing some of the colours for a really pretty effect. The gingerbread was then cooked for about 12 minutes and hey presto, out came some beautiful "stained glass" christmas cookies.
This is the recipe I used for the gingerbread:

Gingerbread "stained glass" cookies

350g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
125g butter
175g light soft brown sugar
1 free-range egg
4 tbsp golden syrup
Coloured boiled sweets (such as Foxes Glacier Fruits) - crushed into small pieces

Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and cinnamon and pour into the bowl of a food processor. Add the butter and blend until the mix looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar.

Lightly beat the egg and golden syrup together, add to the food processor and pulse until the mixture clumps together. (I had trouble with the dough coming together here so I tipped it out into a bigger bowl and mixed together by hand which took a good 5 minutes). Tip the dough out, knead briefly until smooth, wrap in clingfim and leave to chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4.5 or 180C. Grease the baking tray thoroughly (this is important as I forgot to do this and one set of cookies stuck to the tray - there was no way to get the stained glass bit off the tray!)

Roll the dough out to a 0.5cm/¼in thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using cutters, cut out the shapes you want, including the hole in the middle and place on the baking tray, leaving a gap between them. Make sure the hole is a good size as this shrinks when the gingerbread bakes.

If you would like to use these as hanging decorations, make a small hole in one end of the cookie before baking. You should then be able to thread a piece of ribbon through once it is cooked.
Carefully sprinkle the crushed sweets into the holes in the middles of the gingerbread cookies. You can be creative and mix the colours, as you can see I did with the christmas tree and the snowflake.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly golden-brown. Leave on the tray for 10 minutes and then move to a wire rack to finish cooling. It is helpful to flex the baking tray or sheet a little to "pop" the gingerbread cookies off.
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look.

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