A tin of Ottolenghi’s fabulously festive biscuits will prove invaluable over the coming weeks. Serve to unexpected guests with a pot of coffee, offer to eager little hands searching for something sugary, or simply dip in whenever you need a sweetly spiced pick-me-up.
Makes 12–14 depending on size of stamp and cutter*
85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
90g soft dark brown sugar
100g black treacle (or blackstrap molasses)
1 egg yolk
235g plain flour, plus extra for dusting and printing
1⁄2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground ginger
1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch ground cloves
1 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder (such as Green & Blacks)
For the rum butter glaze:
80g icing sugar
tiny pinch ground cinnamon
15g unsalted butter
1 tbsp dark rum (or lemon juice if you want to keep the glaze booze-free)
1 Place the butter, sugar and treacle in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until smooth.
2 Sift all the dry ingredients into a bowl with 1⁄4 tsp each of salt and black pepper. Reduce the speed of the mixer and add the dry ingredients to the butter and treacle. Once the mix comes together, tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently.
3 Roll out the dough so it’s about 6mm thick (no need to chill it first, but the dough can be wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge for up to two days before baking). Preheat oven to 170C/ Fan 150C/325F. Line two baking trays with baking parchment and set aside.
4 Dip the biscuit stamps in a small bowl of flour, shake off any excess and then press them firmly into the dough, one at a time, to create a deep imprint. (Bear in mind the biscuits will rise when cooked so light imprints will disappear.) Using a round biscuit cutter that is slightly larger than the pattern, cut out the pieces of imprinted gingerbread.
5 Transfer the biscuits to the lined baking trays about 2cm apart. Re-roll the dough and continue to stamp and cut until all the dough is used up. Bake for 9-10 mins, rotating the trays halfway through, until firm to the touch. They will continue to firm as they cool.
6 Prepare the glaze while the biscuits are in the oven, as it needs to be brushed on while they are still warm. Sift the icing sugar and cinnamon into a bowl. Add the melted butter, rum (or lemon juice) and 1 tsp of warm water and mix with a spoon until smooth. The glaze will thicken slightly if it sits around, so stir through a little more warm water if you need to – it should be the consistency of runny honey.
7 Remove the biscuits from the oven, leave to rest for 5 mins, then brush or dab the glaze all over with a pastry brush. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Biscuits will keep for up to five days in an airtight container.
Recipe from Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Ebury).
*Try to get hold of some biscuit stamps if you can – they can easily be bought online. Sold as ‘springerle’, they come in all patterns, shapes and sizes. If you can’t get hold of any, the biscuits can be made using regular round cutters or cut into squares or rectangles with a knife, or try using the ornate base of a cut glass tumbler.