Christmas cookies, or “biscuits” I should say, are not a big thing in the UK. Mince pies and slivers of Christmas cake are the usual holiday indulgence. But biscuits in general are a big thing. A mainstay of the 11am pick me up alongside a cup of tea. In fact, I would go so far as to suggest that we measure a biscuit’s worth by its ability to hold up to a good dunk in the steaming beverage. No one likes to find a mound of sodden crumbs at the bottom of their cup!
Of all the biscuits, the king of the tea-cup dunk is by far the glorious gingernut. It holds its shape well so if you dunk one entirely into your tea then it will come back out in one piece; always a bonus! But there’s more. The heat of the tea (or coffee if you’re a non-purist) gently melts the sugary interior and transforms the biscuit from one that is somewhat brittle to one exuding soft and chewy mollasses-y goodness, with a deep flavor of warming ginger.
Since my return home from the UK I have become very aware that we do not own a biscuit tin (aka cookie jar) and we rarely have biscuits in the house. The realization that my cupboards full of chocolate covered almonds are simply not going to satisfy my yearning for the comforts of home has sent me into rather a biscuit-making craze. And inspired by the holiday season, and some rather stunning crystalized ginger I came across in my local store, there really was only one place to start.
Most importantly, these biscuits passed their tea-cup dunk test. Leaving me only to sit back, close my eyes, and let their warming sweetness dissolve in my mouth while dreaming of the gray December drizzle of home.
Gingernut biscuits (aka cookies)
Makes 20-24, depending on the size of your biscuit.
Preheat the oven to 180/350/Gas Mark 4.
Soften 5.5 oz butter and add to a large bowl with 8 oz dark brown sugar and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Beat until well combined.
Add 1 egg and beat again until light and fluffy – about 2-3 minutes.
Add 6.5 oz all-purpose flour, 3 tbsp finely minced candied ginger, 1 tbsp ground ginger, and 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda. Beat until a smooth dough forms.
Take tablespoon amounts of the mixture and roll them in coarse demerara sugar. Place the rolled balls of dough onto a lined baking sheet, allowing enough room for them to spread. You will probably need two baking sheets, or to work in batches like I did.
Bake for 12 minutes until the edges start to turn golden. When you remove them from the oven allow them to sit for a minute before transferring to a cooling rack – this will help prevent breakages.
When cool, dunk in tea and enjoy!