Monday, 20 December 2010

Smells like Christmas: spicy cookies

It should feel like Christmas; the tree is up and decorated, there is snow outside, Gareth Brook's Christmas CD is playing on loop, friends have been round for the obligatory mulled wine and mince pies, but it doesn't.

Something is missing and I am not sure what it is....there is the lack of Christmas presents under the tree, there will of course be the last minute rush to buy them, but there is something else missing and I can't quite put my finger on it.

Could it be that it just doesn't smell like Christmas? Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, the commonly used spices at this time of year and the ones that remind me of my childhood Christmases - it is amazing that my mam managed to do so much baking with 5 kids and a full time job! I figure that maybe what is missing is the smell of Christmas and decide to make some spicy Christmas cookies maybe even some edible decorations to hang from the tree.

The French just don't Christmas like us, after visits to a large Monoprix and three speciality cooking shops I gave up on trying to find Christmas themed cookie cutters and with it any notion of making Christmas decorations.

I finally managed to find a star shaped cookie cutter which is on the small side and part of a set with lots of shapes I am sure I will never find a use for. I will have to content myself with this and make a note to stock up on cookie cutters the next time I am home.

For those of you living in France - the golden syrup came from home but you can also get it in Ethnic Angels near Grand Blvd metro station.

For the cookies you will need:

100g of caster sugar
85g of softened butter
1 beaten egg
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp golden syrup
1tsp baking powder
100g dark chocolate (optional)

In a large mixing bowl beat together the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until fluffy and light then slowly add the eggs while continuously beating.
Then stir in the spices, golden syrup, flour and baking powder. Shape dough into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and chill in fridge for about 1 hour. Heat oven to 180°c. On a cold floured surface roll out the dough to about 1/2 centimetre thick and cut out cookies using your chosen shapes.

Put on greased baking sheets and bake in oven until golden which should take about 10minutes.Chill on a wire rack. You can either dust with icing sugar or cover with chocolate. To cover with chocolate melt chocolate in a bain marie (bowl sitting on top of a saucepan of hot water), dip each biscuit in the chocolate and leave to cool on baking parchment.

These biscuits keep well in an air tight container for a few weeks - so also make ideal Christmas gifts especially if packaged in nicely decorated boxes.

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