There are a number of reasons why I love making these Christmas biscuits, not least of all their rich and almost caramelly flavour, warmed by festive spices. It is customary in Denmark to offer hospitality to guests in the form of a drink and at least three kinds of snack. Brought up on this tradition by family, I still feel slightly offended if any visitor to my home turns down the offer of a cup of coffee and a little something, and then spend the next forty minutes wondering what I have done to upset them.
The dough is made the day before you need it, in order to allow the flavours to soften and mingle, so there is very little washing up on the actual day of baking (perfect if you are expecting guests), and it can also be frozen up to a month in advance. Try and slice the dough as finely as you can, so the biscuits have a pleasing and crispy snap when broken, rather than the texture and appearance of a hobbit’s roof tile.
250gm plain flour
125gm soft, dark brown sugar
125gm golden syrup
Grated zest of one lemon
1 level teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
25gm flaked almonds
- Place the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan and gently stir over a medium heat until everything has melted and formed a rich dark treacle.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, then add the lemon zest, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
- Pour in the melted mixture and stir the dough to combine. Add a little more flour a spoonful at a time if you find the dough is too sticky.
- Turn out the mixture onto a floured board and knead gently until smooth.
- Lay a 40cm piece of baking parchment out onto a baking sheet, and gently form your dough into a sausage on top. Wrap it up in the baking parchment and roll it backwards and forwards to even out the shape. It should measure roughly 30cms by 4cms.
- Pop the sausage in the fridge for an hour, then take it out and give it another rolling; the dough will have stiffened up by now making it easier to get a nice sausage shape.
- Leave in the fridge overnight, then when you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 180 degrees
- Remove the dough from the fridge and cut into 4mm slices. Arrange the biscuits on lined baking sheets about 3cms apart, and then gently press a flaked almond into the centre of each one. (IMG 78)
- Bake in the centre of the oven for 6-8 minutes; they will crisp up as they cool.