Cook this: Gingerbread men!

Because we’re missing Christmas at home this year, a number of Christmas traditions, such as gingerbread men, have needed to be moved forward. Other traditions, like my husband’s repeated viewings of Chevy Chase’s National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, I’m not pushing quite as hard for an early start on.

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I’ve tried so many gingerbread recipes and it has taken batch after batch after batch to finally come up with a version I love – hope everyone else enjoys them, too 🙂

INGREDIENTS
– 125g butter, softened
– ½ cup brown sugar
– 100g golden syrup
– 100g maple syrup
– ½ tsp vanilla extract
– 2½ cups plain flour
– 3 tsp ground ginger
– 1 tsp baking soda

 

METHOD
1. Combine the flour, ginger and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer for 4 – 5 minutes, until pale and creamy. Add in the golden syrup and/or maple syrup and honey, as well as the vanilla, and beat for another 30 seconds, until combined.

3. Add in the dry ingredients, and beat on low speed until a dough comes together. Don’t worry if it is crumbly, you’ll be able to bring it together with your hands.

4. Roll the dough out to your desired thickness between two pieces of non-stick baking paper and put it in the fridge for half an hour.

5. Pre-heat the oven to 160°C and line 2 large oven trays with baking paper.

6. Take the cold dough out of the fridge and cut out gingerbread men of your preferred size. You can see from the photo below that I made quite little ones – for your reference, I got 90 (yes, 90) little gingerbread gentlemen out of the dough made from the ingredients above. Re-roll the dough as necessary until it’s all been cut and placed onto the oven trays.

7. Bake for 7 – 10 minutes until lightly golden.

8. For a softer cookie, remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the trays for 10 minutes before moving to cooling racks. If you like them a little crunchier, turn the oven off and leave them in there to cool completely.

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Cook this: Peanut Butter Nutella Cookies

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Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I’m a chronic chocoholic, with a particular weakness for Nutella, which I inherited from my dad. I also LOVE peanut butter. Sweet chocolate + salty peanut butter = happy Jess.

I came across a recipe for Nutella Peanut Butter Cookies at Averie Cooks the other day. As far as I was concerned, my hands were tied. As usual, I played around with the recipe a bit (I can’t follow instructions in the kitchen without messing around with them), and here’s what happened…

 

Ingredients to make around 20 cookies..
– 1 large egg
– about ⅘ of a 220g jar of Nutella
– ½ cup crunchy peanut butter – my weapon of choice is Mayvers Crunchy Peanut Butter
– ½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– ½ cup all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– pinch of salt
– 180g dark chocolate, chopped

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To create heaven…

1. Combine the egg, Nutella, peanut butter, brown sugar and vanilla in an electric mixer or with a hand beater for about 5 minutes – you’ll know it’s done when it’s smoother and oily and comes together nicely.

2. Add the flour, baking soda, optional salt and beat to incorporate. The dough will be quite different to regular cookie dough; it won’t really come together and will be a little flaky. All good, it’ll be fine. Mix in the chocolate chunks.

3. Take scoops of approximately 1 tablespoon (you can go bigger if you prefer) and use your hands to compact them into a ball. Place a sheet of non-stick baking paper on a large plate or tray, and place the cookies on top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a bare minimum of 2 – 3 hours – I left them overnight.

4. Preheat oven to 180°C, line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper. Place your cookies on the baking trays, leaving an inch or so between (they’ll spread quite a bit). Bake for around 10 minutes, or until top have just set, even if slightly under baked in the center. It’ll be tempting to let them cook a little longer, but they will firm up as they cool, and baking too long will result in cookies that set up too crisp.

5. Leave the cookies to cool on their trays for 10 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack to come down to room temperature. Or just wait until they’re cool enough to handle and tuck in.

 

A little crunchy on the outside, gooey and fudgy on the inside. Very sweet, a little salty, completely delicious. There’s not much I’d change about this recipe – the only thing I can think of would be to maybe add some crushed, toasted peanuts to balance out the sugar a little more. Really glad I went on a 12km walk this morning. Feel like I might need to walk another 12km now. Worth it. Enjoy.