A collection of Hungarian recipes and home cooking

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Gingerbread Honey Cookies – Mézeskalács

honey cookies
These aromatic honey-ginger cookies are easy to make, ideal for tree decorations, make nice presents and good to eat on their own. The dough could be made days ahead and stored in the fridge until use. In Hungary shop bough spice mixes are a popular and quick way to make these. I listed the spices below to make the cookies from scratch.

Ingredients

Makes approximately 40 pieces of 6-7cm [~2.5inch] diameter cookies.

THE DOUGH:

  • 120 gram [1 stick] butter
  • 120 gram [~ 0.5 cup] honey
  • 3 eggs
  • 200 gram [1 cup] granulated sugar
  • 1 level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon of grated rind of an unwaxed lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of grated orange zest
  • 500 gram [4 cups] all purpose flour

SPICE MIX:

  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of all spice (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg (optional)
  • pinch of black pepper (optional)
  • 0.5 – 1 teaspoon of cocoa powder for a deeper colouring (optional)

Method

It’s practical to assemble the dough one or a couple of nights before intended baking. Should you rather not wait, let the dough rest for a minimum of 1 hour before rolling out to cut the shapes and baking.

  1. A day before baking the cookies: Warm the butter and honey together slowly. When the butter melted, set aside to cool until just warm.
  2. Whisk the eggs lightly with the lemon juice, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, grated lemon rind, orange zest and the spice mixture.
  3. Work the now cooled honey and melted butter into the whisked spicy egg mixture.
  4. Sift the flour then combine into the above fragrant concoction. A wooden spoon is perfect for this as the result will be a thick paste consistency.
  5. Dust a sheet of plastic wrap with flour, place the dough in the middle, wrap it tightly and rest in the fridge for minimum of one hour, but could be as long as 1-2 days, the longer is better.
  1. On the baking day: Preheat oven to 180°C [350°F].
  2. Flour your work surface generously. Knead the dough through and roll out to approximately 3-4mm thickness.
  3. Cut out various shapes with cookie cutters and lay them on a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
  4. If you are using seeds or raisins for decoration, you could add those at this point, lightly pressing them onto the surface of the cookies before baking. (Brush the surface with a little milk or whisked eggs if they are not sticking.)
  5. Bake at 180°C [350°F] for 10-15 minutes, keep a close eye on them as can burn easily.
  6. Let the cookie shapes cool completely before icing.

Decoration

You could use raisins, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, these can be added after cutting the shapes out and before baking.
If decorating with icing, wait until the cookies are baked and completely cool.
Icing:

  • 1 medium egg white
  • 200 gram icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 pinch of salt (to preserve whiteness)
  • 2-3 drops of lemon juice (for shine)
  • 1 tablespoon of corn starch

– Beat the egg white with an electric mixer until firm peaks form. (2-3 minutes).
– Mix the starch and pinch of salt into the sifted icing sugar.
– Add half of the sugar mixture to the beaten egg white, start slowly (otherwise it will go all over) increase the speed gradually, work for about 3 minutes, add the second half of sugar mixture in a similar manner and beat for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice at the end and combine through. The icing should be a thick cream consistency. Use with a piping bag to decorate the cookies. Plastic sandwich bags could also be used for piping, cut only a tiny hole at one corner as it will stretch further with the icing.

mezeskalacsok
Decorated by the young ones in the family.

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