Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Polish Spice Biscuits and New Zealand Honey

For my christmas hampers I was looking to make some sort of spiced biscuits that I could cut into stars and possibly decorate. There were several contenders, but I eventually plumped for Polish Spiced Cookies otherwise known as Pierniczki taken from Ren's aptly named blog Fabulicious Food. These cookies made their way to Vanessa's Lets Make Christmas event at Fortnum and Mason's and were most beautifully decorated. I particularly liked this recipe as it used cocoa powder and lots of honey which sounded just right for ChocLogBlog Christmas biscuits. Ren also suggested using rye flour. Although I'm very familiar with rye flour in sourdough bread, I had never used it in sweet baked goods until I recently made Dan Lepard's rye apple cake (you can find the Short & Tweet round-up here). I was completely won over by the wonderful texture this grain gives and was keen to try it again.

This is what I did:
  • Melted 110g unsalted butter in a small pan with 110g soft brown sugar and 8 tbsp honey (Beech Forest HoneyDew).
  • Stirred until combined, then left to cool a little.
  • Sieved 225g rye flour and 225g white flour into a bowl with 2 tsp baking powder 2 tbsp cocoa, 2 heaped tsp homemade mixed spice, 1 heaped tsp cinnamon, 1 heaped tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.
  • Made a well in the centre and poured in the butter mixture then broke in a large egg.
  • Stirred the mixture together starting from the middle until all incorporated.
  • Brought it all together with my hands to form a ball.
  • Cut this in two then rolled out (one at a time) to the thickness of about 1/4 cm.
  • Cut out about 80 stars and hearts by re-rolling the leftover bits several times.
  • Placed them on lined baking trays about a cm apart and baked the first batch for 8 minutes at 200C.
  • Sadly, these burnt, so I reduced the temperature to 180C and baked the rest for 7 minutes only.
Already feeling cross for having burnt the first 20 biscuits, I was not particularly looking forward to icing the biscuits. I don't have much patience for artistic endeavours and I found cutting stars out of the pastry was fiddly enough. In the end, I ran out of time anyway. Luckily, these looked really good even in their unadorned state. They had a good crunchy biscuity texture and tasted wonderfully warm and spicy with an unmistakable hint of honey. The touch of chilli was good too, giving just the right amount of additional warmth. Ren advises that these keep well for up to two weeks and I would say from the snappiness of them that this is very likely true. They have all left the house in hampers now though, so I am unable to verify this assertion.

A few weeks ago, the New Zealand Honey Co had sent me a 340g bottle of their 10+ pre-biotic Beech Forest Honeydew to try. It's quite a dark honey that is gathered by the bees from honeydew rather than flower nectar. It is claimed to be particularly good for the immune system and digestion. This may or may not be true, but I have to say this was totally delicious. It has a deep rich and not too sweet flavour and has more body than many other honeys I have tried, leaving a nice flowery aftertaste. It warms the back of the throat in a healing sort of way - it feels like it's doing you good. I have used it now in a number of recipes but also on toast for breakfast. It worked particularly well in these biscuits, giving them a special richness. This is also my first experience of honey contained in a squeezy bottle and it certainly helps to deliver it to the right spot without the usual mess and wastage. Not that I object to licking the spoon or my fingers come to that.

18 comments:

  1. Those cookies look amazing:))

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  2. :-(( sad about the burnt ones, but all's well that ends well :-))

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  3. Choc, they sound amazing! They remind me of speculaas, but with a different spice mix. I don't think they need icing either!

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  4. Gosh, the recipients of your hampers are very lucky, what a lot of delicious goodies they have had! I love the idea of a snappy biscuit!

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  5. Totally agree that these little beauties don't need any icing. They look lovely as they are.

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  6. Don't they smell gorgeous too! I put some in a box with some mince pies and it just reeks of Christmas!

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  7. Sweet spiced biscuits are one of my favourite things about Christmas - they smell divine whilst cooking and taste even better! I agree, they are gorgeous just as they are - no need for lots of icing, although I'd be tempted to pipe on a few little snowflakes.

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  8. They look lovely, and especially packaged up so prettily like that. I'm sure the recipients will be delighted. I'm always surprised by how much the flavour of a strong honey comes through in baking - did you find that for these?

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  9. Lucky recipients, look gorgeous as does all your baking, always.
    I think the pre-biotic honey is perhaps a bit comical, what on earth does that mean? Pro- or pre- as long as it tastes good it doesn't matter though.
    BTW I read this as Posh Spice biscuits several times over, too much coffee to try and keep going for the last 2 days of work. Have a happy time

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  10. I am so so pleased that you made these biscuits, and I love the extras, such as the cayenne pepper. I have tried the NZ honey and also thought it was good. Thank you so much for posting about them and linking back to me :-) Have a really lovely Christmas Ren x

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  11. Add me to the lost too, these babies look perfect as they are and seem just perfect for gift hampers too.

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  12. I like you am not totally in love with the fiddly job of cake & cookie decorating. So, I can say I am with you on this but the biscuits look like they would be just fine without fancy adornments.
    I also love the idea that they keep for a couple of weeks and am so envious of the recipients of your festive hampers! :-)x

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  13. You say you sent those hampers out a couple of days ago but I'm still waiting...? The cookies do look rather lovely. I've not cooked with rye flour before so I must go pick up a bag and make a batch. It's so frustrating getting that oven temp wrong isn't it? My new oven has burnt numerous things over the last few months that I've become used to it. I adore honey too. I have a particular penchant to Mexican Orange Blossom honey but I do feel guilty buying it when we produce such excellent honey in the UK. New Zealand seems an awfully long way to send honey from.. or do the bees fly over and drop off? ;0)

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  14. These cookies sound delicious and my kind of treat with cocoa and honey! I love honey and almost always use a squeezy bottle. I don't much like decorating the biscuits either - too much faff and you're right they look pretty on their own. I'm sure everyone enjoyed them. Your hampers sound choc full of goodies (no pun intended!) :)

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  15. I've got right into these sort of cookies - and I think I have rye flour to use us if the weevils haven't got there first :-(

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  16. These cookies look good. A perfect little gift for that special person too.

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  17. Never heard of pre-biotic honey! Love the biscuits.

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