It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas, that's for sure. For the last few years, one of the things I've enjoyed most about the Christmas season is baking. And in particular making homemade treats as gifts for friends, family and work colleagues.
Something thoughtful that is made with love. Something with Christmassy flavours, that inspires a little bit of nostalgia. Wrapped up with ribbon or twine and a handwritten note. I think it's a really special thing to do for the special people in your life, and I hope to continue the tradition for years to come.
This year, I wanted to put a new spin on one of my favourite recipes and this Chocolate Spice Gingerbread was born. Adapted from one of the first ever Christmas recipes I posted on this blog, it's been my go-to Christmas cookie recipe for years now, producing a soft and slightly chewy gingerbread. This time I added some cocoa, cloves and black pepper for a headily spiced gingerbread that made the house smell delicious as it was baking.
I kept it simple with traditional gingerbread men and snowflake shapes. I wasn't all that confident with my icing technique - some of the cookies looked like they were decorated by an un-coordinated six year old - but they tasted fantastic and were a big hit with the family.
I hope that inspires you to try making some homemade edible Christmas gifts for your friends and family this year. Here are 10 delicious ideas from some of my favourite blogs, I hope you'll give some of them a try!
- Beautifully presented homemade brownie mix kit from Call Me Cupcake
- Kids would love these Peppermint hot chocolate pops from Bakers Royale
- A generous homemade Christmas cookie hamper from White on Rice Couple
- Delicious, sweet and simple to make mini Christmas cakes from Citrus & Candy
- I love these peppermint marshmallows from A Beautiful Mess. Perfect for hot chocolate!
- Crowd-pleasing chocolate and sour cherry shortbread from Raspberri Cupcakes
- Everyone loved the super versatile mulled wine syrup that I gifted last Christmas
- How about some homemade vanilla extract for the foodies in your life, from Will Cook for Friends
- Even the boys will love this Bacon Peanut Brittle from Bakingdom
- Or last but not least, why not try homemade infused vodka using your friends' favourite flavours? Lots of ideas at DIY Inspired!
Chocolate Spice Gingerbread
Makes 20-35 cookies depending on cookie cutter size
Adapted from Donna Hay
- 125g butter, softened and chopped
- 1/2 cup (110g) brown sugar
- 2/3 cup golden syrup
- 2 1/4 cups (350g) plain flour
- 1/4 cup (25g) cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 pasteurised egg white
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted
Preheat oven to 190ºC (370ºF). Place the butter and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 8-10 minutes until light and creamy. Add the golden syrup, flour, baking soda and spices and beat until mixture just comes together to form a smooth dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out dough between 2 sheets of non-stick baking paper until 5mm thick. Use a gingerbread man or your choice of shaped cookie cutter to cut out shapes. In warm weather, it may be easier to place trays back into the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes before transferring cookies onto baking trays lined with baking paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until golden. Cool on trays.
To make the royal icing, place the egg white and lemon juice and beat until frothy. Add the icing sugar and beat until mixture is combined and smooth. Use a piping bag or a zip lock bag with the corner snipped off to pipe the icing and decorate the gingerbread.