I can't believe how quickly the weeks are flying towards Christmas now. It seemed like everyone was digging out their Christmas spirit so early this year and then in the midst of parties, carol concerts and the seemingly neverending activities at school over the festive period, suddenly the boys are on holiday for four weeks and we're counting down to the big day.
I had a list as long as my arm of things I was going to bake this Christmas. But then, a couple of weeks ago, we had dairy, nut and egg allergies diagnosed in the family. They're not life threatening but they kind of scuppered my plans. And although I know that I will be still be baking with dairy, eggs and nuts in the future, we're just being a little more considered and restrained right now whilst we make our lifestyle choices.
But being Christmas time, we couldn't let it go by without out little gingerbread family. Whilst these Chocolate Gingerbread Men do contain butter, the rest of the ingredients are on our okay list and we made them pretty small (with a 5cm cutter) but just big enough to decorate.
The dough is really easy to make. After the butter is creamed in a mixer, all the rest of the ingredients are added in one go and combined. This is a soft dough and needs refrigerating so once I'd made and refrigerated it, I then cut out my little army and then popped them back in the fridge until I was ready to bake them the next day. To me, biscuits baked fresh are just the best when you have friends coming to visit.
You can use any cutters you like. I have a great set from Ikea with 3D stars, Christmas tree and reindeer which are lots of fun but I gave them to some adult friends to decorate before taking any photos and their creations disappeared home with their new friends! I bought some coloured icing pens and the kids just loved decorating them. Here is our little family :)
For me, Christmas just isn't the same without gingerbread and gingerbread people are such a fun way to celebrate with friends. I haven't met a child yet (and now it seems an adult too!) that doesn't love to become an artist and bring out their inner child.
Naked or decorated, these gingerbread men are just delicious. Just the right amount of chocolate throughout and then a lovely, but not overly intense, taste of ginger. I think this makes them perfect for kids but still completely moreish for adults.
And just right to enjoy with a mug of hot chocolate and marshmallows :)
Chocolate Gingerbread Men (makes around 20 x 5cm shapes)
- 125G UNSALTED BUTTER, SOFTENED
- 100G LIGHT BROWN SUGAR
- 230G GOLDEN SYRUP
- 375G PLAIN FLOUR, SIFTED
- 1 TSP BAKING SODA, SIFTED
- 25G COCOA, SIFTED
- 2 TSP GROUND GINGER
- 1 TSP PUMPKIN SPICE (you can use allspice here but I'd start with 1/2 tsp and then add to taste)
- COLOURED ICING PENS (optional)
- Beat the butter and sugar in a mixer for at least 5 minutes until pale
- Add the golden syrup, flour, baking soda, cocoa and spices and beat on low speed until combined
- Place on a sheet of baking paper and then pop another sheet on top
- Roll out the dough until around 1/2 cm thick
- Refrigerate for at least one hour so the dough has time to firm up
- Remove from the fridge and cut out your shapes - the dough will soften and get sticky quite quickly so just pop it back into the fridge if needed to firm up for 5-10 minutes
- You can either bake your shapes now or refrigerate them again until ready
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees
- Bake for 12 minutes for a snap to the biscuit (a couple of minutes less if you want them a little softer)
- When you remove them from the oven, the biscuits will be soft and very fragile so you need to leave them to cool down completely before handling them
- When they're cool, it's time to have some fun and decorate them - or eat them just as they are :)