Monday, 15 December 2014

Cola Gingerbread Men for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap

My oh my, baking has been even more lacking.  Work is hard and distressing right now and not looking to get better any time soon, hence the sheer amount of not posting there has been.  Sorry.  But you don't want to hear about that, you're here for cookies!  Specifically, for cookie swap cookies!

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

I stumbled across the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap last year, after it had closed.  I was really disappointed as it looked like such fun!  So of course I immediately added myself to the mailing list so I would not miss out next time.

It wasn't until mid October that I began to wonder about whether or not the swap had opened up again.  I hadn't received any email saying so.  Some investigation revealed that yes, it had opened up, and that my email had ended up in the Junk folder.  A good thing I checked or I'd be sitting out this year too!  So I got signed up and then began plotting.

The idea for the cookies came from a book I was reading.  In the story one of the characters is a chocolatier but at one point it mentioned cola gingerbread.  Well, I was intrigued.  What an interesting idea and rather ideal for a festive gift.  Gingerbread is very Christmassy, as far as I'm concerned.  The cola is an added bonus as I have always felt that the Coca-Cola advert with the trucks and the song and the lights is the first sign that it is almost Christmas!  I don't care about what's on sale as soon as Hallowe'en finishes, it's not the festive season until Coca-Cola announces that the holidays are coming!

Anyway, I ended up having to experiment with this recipe for a couple of weeks as there was not an existing recipe for cola gingerbread cookies (that I could find).  So I was having to tamper with an existing recipe.  For my initial batches the shape held up but they caught very easily and the cola flavour was rather too subtle.  So I had to increase the amount of syrup to improve the flavour.  Unfortunately that meant the cookies spread.  Not such a big deal really, except that it meant I couldn't do my original idea for the final look.  Based on something I had seen on Pinterest, I wanted to have my gingerbread men hugging their cola bottles.  This was also part of the experimentation.  It worked well in the early batches but wouldn't in the later ones.  Flavour trumps aesthetics though for me so I just went with the spreading batches and used icing to attach the cola bottles to my little men.  Not quite as lovely but still rather cute.  The only other problem this caused was that packaging the little guys was a bit of a curfuffle as some of the bottles would come away from the hands.  I managed it in the end though and it seems they arrived fairly intact at their various destinations! 

And once my own cookies were away, the ones from the lovely bloggers who got me in the swap started arriving!  It was kinda fun to get mystery boxes of cookies.  I didn't eat any until the weekend though since the Hubby and I decided to pack them all up and take them to Glasgow with us as we were away for a shopping weekend.  You can see them in all their delicious glory in the pictures below.  From top to bottom: Cranberry, White Chocolate and Sea Salt cookies from Ellie of RovingLights; Malted Chocolate Chip Cookies from Kirsty of Ever So Sweet; and Oat and Maple Syrup Biscotti from Tina of The Worktop.  Thank you so much, ladies.  These were scrumptious and the Hubby and I thoroughly enjoyed them!

I am hoping my swapees liked their cookies just as much.  I can tell you that we certainly enjoyed eating the spares.  I'm not much of a fan of gingerbread and even I was scoffing them without thinking.  They're a slightly soft cookie which are not too hot.  The ginger and cola mix nicely, especially when you eat the cola bottle with the cookie.  Yum yum!

Recipe - adapted from Home Baking Biscuits and Cookies
Makes 36
  • 350g/12oz plain flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 100g/3.5oz butter
  • 175g/6oz light brown sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 tbsp cola syrup
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup 
  • Decorative sugar balls
  • 36 cola bottle sweets
  • 2 tbsp icing sugar
  • Cold water
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5 and line a few baking trays with greaseproof paper. 
  2. Mix the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger together in a bowl.
  3. Add the butter in pieces and then rub into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Stir in the sugar and then make a well in the centre.
  5. Add the egg yolk, cola syrup and golden syrup and mix together.
  6. Knead into a smooth dough.
  7. Sprinkle a clean surface with flour and roll out the dough to about 5mm/0.25inches thick.
  8. Cut out gingerbread men with a 10cm/4inch cutter.
  9. Space out well on the tray as these cookies spread.  Create eyes and buttons by pushing the sugar balls into the dough.
  10. Cook for about 10 minutes, until the edges are just starting to brown.
  11. Remove and allow to rest on the tray for a minute before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  12. Once cool, mix the icing sugar with a little water to get a fairly thick icing.
  13. Place a blob of icing on one of the hands of each of the gingerbread men and stick a cola bottle sweet to the blob.  Leave to set.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Becca, I wanted to say a huge thank you for sending me your lovely gingerbread men. Your package was stunning (my jaw dropped when I saw the size of the box on my desk at work :P), and the flavour pairing you tried made me curious from the very minute I opened it. Needless to say, I was munching on your cookies that same evening, and absolutely loved them. Lots of the other recipes you posted are right up my street, so you can be sure I'll keep checking out your blog, too!