If you’ve been hanging out with me for any length of time now, you know my absolute affinity towards gingerbread. In all forms.
I have my Gingerbread Granola recipe, there’s the Alsatian Gingerbread recipe, soft and chewy Gingerbread Chocolate Cookies, German gingerbread Pfeffernüsse, even Pumpkin Gingerbread Loaf. I will spice whatever I can to turn it into gingerbread: see my Heady Spicy Honey Cake. Cookies, cakes, lattes, candles, perfume…it is the aroma or fragrance that puts me into the best nesting, cozy, special mood. The fragrance and flavour of Hygge, as far as I’m concerned.
So when I came across the Soft Gingerbread Cookies in ‘Sweet’ by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, you knew I would be trying it out. But just a few pages previous to this recipe is their recipe for Dutch Speculaas. This is a Dutch spice shortcrust cookie. In German they are called Spekulatius. The spices are very similar to gingerbread, but the ginger isn’t the predominant flavour. Also white pepper and anise seed are included. This is what sets European gingerbread apart from North American. So I thought, why not combine the two recipes? I’m not as much a lover of shortcrust or drier cookies. I love one that is more chewy. Just doing me. And these cookies stay chewy, even after a couple of days. But will they really last that long?!
The other aspect of the gingerbread cookie recipe that intrigued me was the glaze. Come on, it has melted butter and rum! But what makes the glaze such a key component to the recipe, is how the cookies are cut. In the book, they use a cookie stamp to create embossed patterns that the glaze can settle into. Once dry, not only are they delicious, but they are so pretty!
I guess I could use this recipe as an excuse to run out and purchase some cookie stamps. Nordicware has some lovely ones. Or check out Amazon. But I decided that instead of running out and spending some more money for kitchen gadgets, I would try and make use of ones I already have. Immediately I thought of the embossed rolling pin I had been using over the summer to create patterns on pie crusts. Surely this could work?
Speaking of rolling pins, isn’t there something so charming and old fashioned about such a rudimentary kitchen tool? It will forever remind me of grandmas in the kitchen, Downton Abbey, and all the other simple joys of being in the kitchen. I think part of the reason is that they are made out of wood. Such an organic material that takes on a wonderfully worn-in patina over the years. And each pin has a special use. Beveled edge French ones for the perfect pie crust. The simple cylinder for evenly rolled cookie dough etc. And the embossed one to make even patterns.
So I combined the spice blend from the Speculaas recipe into the Gingerbread Cookie recipe, and rolled out the dough. It it more of a dry dough, so it will crack at times, but don’t worry, once you roll over it with a pin or cookie stamp, the cracks will disappear. The dough can be rolled out, cut out, and rolled up for more, till used up. And if you don’t have an embossed rolling pin or stamp of any kind? Why not use some fun shapes or cookie cutters with patterns (see my leaf cutters on many of my pie crusts) These will work perfectly to accept some of the glaze once baked up. And if all you have is a biscuit cutter or glass, that’s just fine. The glaze will just be a smooth addition to your final cookies!
I laid out the embossed cookies onto parchment lined cookie sheets. They only took 9 minutes to bake up. They do puff up a little bit, so the more intricate the design of your embossed device, there is a chance that some of those details may disappear. Yes, a cookie stamp is less patterned, so they will keep the pattern intact. Also, do push into the dough well when using any version of embosser- to make sure you have gone as deep as possible to create grooves that will still be there once baked up- it’s those grooves that the glaze will especially look amazing in!
I made my first batch, and they were inhaled by friends in mere moments. I already need to make a second batch. And yes, I will be making these in April! Why should gingerbread be only a cold weather flavour!?
Speculaas Soft Gingerbread Cookies with a Rum Butter Glaze
The best of European spices blend with a soft gingerbread cookie to make for a cozy treat. Sending them over the moon is a simple rum and butter glaze
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/2 tsp anise seed
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 6 tbsp (85 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/3 cup plus 2 tbsp (90 grams) packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (100 grams) blackstrap molasses
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp (235 grams) AP flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tbsp Dutch process cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
Rum Butter Glaze
- 2/3 cup (80 grams)confectioners (icing) sugar
- 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp (15 grams) unsalted butter, melted and warm
- 1 tbsp dark rum or lemon juice
- 1 tsp warm water
Blend all the spices (cinnamon through cloves) together in a small bowl and set aside.
Place the butter, sugar and molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment set up. Beat on medium speed till smooth and incorporated.
Add the egg yolk and continue to beat till fully combined.
Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, spice blend and salt together in a bowl.
Turn the speed to low and add the flour mixture to the butter and molasses.
Once the mixture has comb together, tip the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently.
Roll out the dough so that it is about 1/4 (.5 cm) thick. Don't go any thinner. If the dough seems to crack, this is alright, just press together lightly with your fingers.
Preheat the oven to 375F (190C) and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Dip the cookie stamp or embossed rolling pin into flour, shake off any excess, and press firmly into the dough to create a deep imprint. Bear in mind that the cookies will rise and puff up slightly, so you want as deep an impression as possible. If using a rolling pin, press firmly but roll slowly or else you will push the dough across and it will be thinner than you need.
Using a biscuit or cookie cutter just larger than your stamp (if using a stamp) cut out the cookies, surrounding the stamped pattern. If using an embossed rolling pin, feel free to cut out cookies throughout the pattern.
Transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, leaving 3/4 inch (2 cm) space between each.
Re-roll the dough and continue till all used up.
Bake for 9-10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through the baking time, until firm to the touch. They will continue to firm up as they cool, so don't be tempted to cook them further.
Rum Butter Glaze
While the cookies are in the oven, create the glaze and have it ready- it needs to be brushed on while the cookies are still warm out of the oven.
Sift the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl.
Add the melted butter, rum and water and mix till smooth. The glaze will thicken slightly if it sits around, so stir in a little more water when needed. It should have the consistency of runny honey (but not too runny)
Remove the cookies from the oven, and leave them to cool for 5 minutes.
Then brush or dab the cookies with the glaze. Let it settle into the crevices.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
I state that this recipe makes 16. If you are using a larger stamp, you will get less. A minimum of 12 will be achieved for sure.
This recipe will totally work if you don't have a stamp or embossed rolling pin. You can use cookie cutters with a press in patter (like veins in a leaf) as long as the patterns aren't too small. Or you can even just use a round cutter. The glaze will simply spread out over the finished cookies, but they will still taste amazing!
You can totally use the spice blend on its own in other baking, or even in pancakes, etc!