Mmm. Gingerbread. I like my gingerbread loaded with spices and scented with lemon. Each Christmas the girls and I design and bake a Gingerbread House. Madness I know. Its a tradition we started when they were little and shows no sign of waning. This year their hearts are set on having stained glass windows in their gingerbread houses. Great concept girls. Of course it falls to me to think of a way to make it work.
Here’s my test run. Adapting a traditional gingerbread recipe to make cookies instead. And sneaking in some lemon and cardamom to freshen up the spices a little bit. No way was I going to assemble a whole house this many weeks out to Christmas. Using crushed boiled lollies in the cut out centres creates a lovely stained glass effect as the cookies bake and the lollies melt. I must confess I didn’t have treacle in the pantry either and wasn’t in the mood to rush out and buy some so I used golden syrup instead.
The result? A lighter but equally delicious gingerbread cookie. Pretty enough to hang as an ornament on the tree.
Lemon Gingerbread Stained Glass Heart Cookies
Makes 2 to 4 dozen cookies, depending on how large you make them.
175 g butter
1 cup (175 g) soft dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons of golden syrup or treacle
4 2/3 cups (700 g) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cardamom
1 tsp ground cinnamon
zest and juice (about 50 ml) of 1 lemon
2 medium free-range eggs
2 packets of boiled sugar lollies for the stained glass centres, I used Lifesaver Five Flavours
PREHEAT the oven to 180 C. Line four baking trays with baking paper.
REMOVE lolly wrappers and separate lollies by colour. Use a mallet to lightly crush into pieces.
PLACE butter, brown sugar and golden syrup into a pan over a very low heat, stirring until the butter and sugar have melted. Set aside to cool.
MIX the flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and lemon zest in a big bowl.
BEAT eggs in a separate bowl.
ADD the butter mixture, eggs and lemon juice to the flour. Mix well, then use your hands to bring the dough together.
SPRINKLE a little flour over a clean work surface and knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth.
DIVIDE the dough into 3 discs.
For each disc repeat the following:
PLACE disc between two large sheets of baking paper and roll to 1/2 cm thickness.
STAMP out cookies with the larger heart shaped cookie cutter.
TRANSFER stamped cookies to a lined baking tray, about 2 cm apart.
USING the smaller cookie cutter cut hearts into the centre of the cookies. Place the smaller heart shaped cookies on a separate lined baking tray.
SPRINKLE the crushed lollies into the hollowed-out heart shaped centres of the cookies.
IF the cookies will be hung as ornaments or decorations, poke a small hole in the top of each cookie before baking.
BAKE for 9 to 10 minutes. The lolly centres should be melted and bubbling and the cookies just barely beginning to brown.
REMOVE the baking trays from the oven and place on wire racks to cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the trays for at least 10 minutes to allow the lolly centres to set.
WHEN the cookies are completely cooled, remove and store in an airtight container. String with ribbon if you want to hang as an ornament.