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Cookies for the cold: Red Hot Gingernuts

Red Hot Gingernuts

It’s been cold in the UK this winter. Cold and snowy- two things the Brits are definitely not used to. Up and down the country roads are blocked, schools are closed and trains aren’t running. People are turning up the heat, bulk-buying at the grocery store and generally indulging in a spot of controlled panic. This Canadian is viewing it all with detached bemusement, but I can’t say the Dickensian weather isn’t affecting me; it’s influencing what I cook, after all.

I’ve been simmering soups, roasting veg and baking potatoes to see Andrew and me through the cold snap. Strangely, the most warming recipe I’ve made in recent weeks isn’t a hearty pie or a fiery curry, but rather a cookie. The British gingernut biscuit, though delicious, is a confusingly named creature- why “nut”? Gingersnaps- perhaps, ginger chews- most definitely, but there’s nothing nutty about these.

There is, however, something very, very hot about them. Or at least about mine- I use a good 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, so your throat remembers these long after your mouth has forgotten. If that doesn’t sound like your kind of cookie, just cut back on the cayenne; with a crispy first bite leading to a chewy centre, these are delicious with or without the heat. But until the weather around here warms up, I’m sticking to spice.

Note: As delicious as these cookies are, gingernuts don’t keep well. Best within a day or two of baking, they quickly become tough after that. Luckily, this recipe is easily scaled back, so make only what you need.

Red Hot Gingernuts

  • Red Hot Gingernuts
  • adapted from Breakfast, Lunch, Tea by Rose Carrarini
  • makes about 40 cookies
  • 240g golden syrup
    40g black treacle
    440g self-raising flour
    150g dark brown sugar
    1 1/2 Tbs. baking soda
    3 Tbs. ground ginger
    1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper (less if you don’t like spice)
    200g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt together the golden syrup and the treacle to hot but not simmering. Set aside to cool slightly while you get on with the rest of the dough.

    2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, ginger and cayenne. Add the butter and work into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs; it is best to use your fingers for this step.

    3. Pour the (not too hot) syrup into the bowl and mix with a fork until everything comes together in a smooth, shiny dough. This won’t take long, as the residual heat from the syrup will help to melt the butter and bind everything together.

    4. Roll the dough into 1″ balls and place well apart on the prepared baking trays. Bake cookies for 10 minutes until barely browned on the outer edges; they will be very flat and crackled all over. Until cookies have cooled they are delicate and difficult to handle, so wait at least 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.


  1. Edd says:

    Wow these look just perfect and I love that they are heavy on the spice

  2. Ele says:

    Edd- Thanks! I must say I was happy with how pretty and crackly these ended up- never having made them before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.

  3. Chris says:

    These cookies look really good, though I think If I make them I’ll cut back on the spice.. I always run into the problem of cookies not keeping for more than a couple of days.. (They’re usually all eaten by then…)

  4. Dana says:

    I love spice in anything so I’m sure I would love it in these cookies! I can’t believe the weather you guys have been having. It’s like our winter was last year in Seattle. It sounds like people there are even worse with the snow than they are here, which is impressive. Stay warm!

  5. Ele says:

    Chris- The great thing about these is that, being egg-less, you can make as many as you need and no more! But I know what you mean about eating all the cookies…. sometimes it’s dangerous just having them in the house.

    Dana- No, the Brits aren’t great with the snow, but they have that stiff upper lip thing going for them;) For the most part, people are coping. It should be a bit warmer this week, luckily.

  6. [...] Cookies for the cold: Red Hot Gingernuts [...]

  7. my spatula says:

    love the addition of the cayenne – brilliant. i love a good kick with my food. the cookies look fab!

  8. Sarah says:

    Hi Ele,
    I’m a long time reader but have never commented before. I just wanted to say thanks for posting such a great recipe. I had tins of golden syrup and treacle that were languishing open in my cupboard, so this recipe was perfect! The cookies were spicy and oh so warming!

  9. Ele says:

    my spatula- The cayenne is the best part of these, I agree! :)

    Sarah- Thanks for commenting, I love hearing from readers! I’m so happy that you liked these. I agree that golden syrup and treacle are those types of things that just tend to “hang around” for months and months, so it’s nice to find recipe that use them! :)

  10. sarah says:

    Huh. I have never seen a cookie with cayenne before. What an interesting idea!

    I recently used up all my treacle and I don’t want to buy any more unless I can use it all again. It just sits in the cupboard for months (maybe years if I am honest–yikes)! But I love ginger cookies, so maybe I will make way for another tin of treacle. They sound delicious–thanks.

  11. Quora says:

    What is a good recipe for ginger cookies?…’s recipe Cookies for the cold: Red Hot Gingernuts, adapted from a recipe by Rose Carrarini from Rose Bakery in Paris, is my go-to recipe for ginger cookies. The addition of some cayenne pepper adds a nice kick to an already tasty recipe…