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
- 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.