Soft Gingerbread Cookies with Rum Butter Glaze from Ottolenghi

I saw these gingerbread cookies when I was at Ottolenghi’s in London. What struck me about the cookies was how soft they felt beneath the packaging, but alas, I never ended up purchasing them in favor of other treats. Luckily for me, the recipe was easy enough to find online and therefore recreate at home. I learned that it was originally a Tartine recipe that Ottolenghi found super compelling and had to include in his book, Sweet.

I didn’t have a cookie stamp, so I made my own with salt dough, which is essentially flour, salt, and water formed into a clay and baked at a low temperature to form a mold. I used the end of a funnel to form this holey honeycomb pattern.

How soft the cookies were really depends on the thickness of the dough, how long it was in the oven, and whether the cookies were cut from the first roll-out or reconstituted dough scraps, which tends to have incorporated extra flour sprinkled on the bench to prevent sticking.

The cookie was warmingly spiced with black pepper, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon, and not too sweet. I loved the rum glaze; it added a touch more spice and just a bit more complexity. I actually forgot to add butter to the glaze, but I didn’t find that the cookie suffered from it at all. I also loved how the glaze cracks with each bite.

Soft Gingerbread Cookies with Rum Butter Glaze from Ottolenghi

Recipe from Epicurious

Makes 12 3-inch cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 tbsp (85 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/3 packed cup plus 2 tbsp (90 g) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (100 g) blackstrap molasses (I used regular molasses)
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tbsp (235 g) all-purpose flour, plus extra for pressing
  • 1 tbsp Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used regular cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

PREPARATION

  1. Place the butter, sugar and molasses in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on medium speed until smooth and incorporated. Add the egg yolk and continue to beat until fully combined.
  2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, salt and pepper into a bowl. Turn the speed of the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients to the butter and molasses. Once the mix comes together, tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead gently. Roll out the dough so that it is about 1/4 inch/ 0.5 cm thick. If the dough is very soft, you will need to chill it.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  4. Dip the cookie stamps in a small bowl of flour, shake off any excess and then press them firmly into the dough, one at a time, to create a deep imprint. How far you need to press to get an imprint will depend on your stamp; the patterns on some are more deeply cut than others. Bear in mind that the cookies rise a little when cooked, so any soft imprints will disappear. Using a round cookie cutter that is slightly larger than the pattern, cut out the pieces of imprinted gingerbread. Transfer the cookies to the lined baking sheets, spaced about 3/4 inch/2 cm apart. Reroll the dough and continue to stamp and cut cookies until all the dough is used up.
  5. Bake for 9–10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until firm to the touch. They will continue to firm up as they cool, so don’t be tempted to bake them for any longer.
  6. To make the rum butter glaze while the gingerbreads are in the oven, as the glaze needs to be brushed onto the cookies while they are still warm, sift the confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon into a small bowl. Add the melted butter, rum (or lemon juice) and water and mix with a spoon until smooth. The glaze will thicken slightly if it sits around, so stir through a little more warm water if you need to—it should be the consistency of runny honey.
  7. Remove the cookies from the oven, leave them to cool for 5 minutes, then brush or dab the glaze all over with a pastry brush. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Austrian Raspberry Shortbread Bars

I was personally a little bit suspect about the name of this recipe. What’s so Austrian about raspberry jam and shortbread? I guess it’s a variation of a traditional raspberry shortbread cookie, but raspberry jelly and shortbread is such a ubiquitous combination that I wouldn’t even think it was Austrian in origin. I guess you could say that their product has now been genericised!

This recipe is a riff on traditional raspberry jelly and shortbread biscuits usually offered during Christmas, because it appears in a bar form instead of cookie form. If you think stamping cookies is time-consuming and would like to cut back on effort by resorting to this recipe, let me warn you that this recipe would only reduce your effort if you had a food processor. I do not own one. In order to achieve the airy, crumbly crust, I had to grate a big ball of frozen dough by hand. It took some elbow grease, for sure.

Still, the fruits of my labor were much appreciate. These cookies were really delicious. Grating the shortbread gave it a fluffy and crumbly airiness, which gave some lightness to what would have otherwise been a dense and buttery shortbread. The shortbread could’ve used some brightening from lemon zest, which I unfortunately didn’t have. I also imagine that the raspberry jelly would do really well with a dash of Austrian 80-proof Stroh rum. It also looks so pretty; the scarlet red of the raspberry jelly poking through the crumbly shortbread. No wonder it’s such a common festive season staple.

Austrian Raspberry Shortbread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 1 9×9 square pan

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp vanilla or lemon extract
1/2 cup raspberry jam, at room temperature
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Cream the butter in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or using a hand mixer) until soft and fluffy. Add the egg yolks and mix well.

Mix the granulated sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt together. Add to the butter and egg yolk mixture and mix just until incorporated and the dough starts to come together. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and form into two balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze at least 2 hours or overnight (or as long as a month, if you like).

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line a 9×9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or greased aluminium foil, with an inch overhang. Remove one ball of dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it by hand or with the grating disk in a food processor into the bottom of the pan. Make sure the surface is covered evenly with shreds of dough.

With a piping bag with a wide tip or a zip-lock bag with the corner cut off, squeeze the jam over the surface as evenly as possible, to within 1/2 inch of the edge all the way around. Remove the remaining dough from the freezer and coarsely grate it over the entire surface.

Bake until lightly golden brown and the center no longer wiggles, 50 to 60 minutes. As soon as the shortbread comes out of the oven, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

Cool on a wire rack, then cut in the pan with a serrated knife. Chill the pan in the fridge before cutting to get clean slices.

P.S. Here’s a GIF of the bars, sliced and moved around. I couldn’t resist.

lNS3O0 on Make A Gif, Animated Gifs

make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif