I mentioned before that my Grandfather was a German baker. When people hear this, they all have the same reaction: Oh, you’re so lucky! He must have made you such fantastic things!
They’re right. He made the best. The best cookies. The best black forest cake. The best stollen. The best of many desserts and baked goods I’ve had. In a way, it’s also a bit of a curse – I will spend the rest of my life judging things against what he made. To say it’s incredibly hard to measure up is an understatement. I don’t have many of his recipes so I’m left experimenting and praying – and often being disappointed.
One of the things he made for us every Christmas was a big box of cookies (and by “big” I mean at least 20 lbs. of cookies – enough to keep us satisfied for months). Included in the box were always gingerbread cookies.
I made different gingerbread recipes for years and nothing ever came close. When I stumbled across this recipe last year, I was intrigued – not only was the procedure drastically different from anything else I’d tried – it supposedly came straight from Germany. And, to my delight, they turned out incredibly close to Opa’s cookies.
This is a recipe you need patience for – it’ll take several days before the dough is ready to bake. It’s completely worth the trouble, though – these are fantastic! For softer, chewy cookies, reduce the baking time by a minute or two. For crisper cookies, add a minute or two to the baking time.
1 stick unsalted butter
9 oz. honey
1 c. sugar
1 1/2 T. cocoa
1 T. ground Ginger
1 T. ground Cinnamon
1 T. ground Nutmeg
1 T. ground Allspice
1 t. ground Clove
4 c. flour
3/4 t. baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add honey, sugar, cocoa, spices, and mix with wooden spoon until sugar is dissolved. Then let stand, off the heat, for 1 hour to cool.
In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt. Add the lightly beaten egg to the honey mixture, mixing in well.
Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until it is soft, pliable and shiny. This may take a few minutes. Yes, it will be sticky, you will need more flour.
Form dough into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap, refrigerate at least 24 hours. I highly recommend 48-69 hours.
Take out 1 hour prior to rolling and cutting. Roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness for cookies, 1/2 inch thickness for houses. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment baking paper and bake in preheated oven at 400F degrees, for 10-12 minutes.