Ginger hearts are my signature cookie. I designed these about 15 years ago before Pinterest existed. The gingerbread recipe was not passed down by my grandmother because she didn’t even like to cook! It was a teacher at a cake decorating course I did once. She was an old school baker with good old fashioned recipes and tricks that I still use today.
The first time I tried this gingerbread I was transported back to Pizza Hut in the 80’s where you could buy a gingerbread man cookie at the counter after stuffing your face with pizza. Weird combination I know, but they were so good. I decided I would make my own version that would never become discontinued.
I chose the heart shape because it conjures up sweet loveliness and I’m secretly a hopeless romantic at heart, even though my love life hasn’t been so sweet. When I recall my first romantic experience I’m still mortified about getting dumped for being ‘frigid’. I was only 10 years old and inexperienced, so naturally I was terrified of kissing my first boyfriend for the first time. It didn’t help to imagine what my mother would do to me in that moment if she found out I wasn’t just playing on the swings in the park at the bottom of our street. He was so confident and I was so shy….and paranoid. I now understand that one kiss in two weeks warranted dumping me, so I can hardly blame him for making the decision that somehow might have ruined my love life. Since then I’ve heard it all. ‘I don’t love you’, ‘It’s not you, it’s me’, ‘I love you as a friend’, ‘I’m not your man’, ‘I’m not in love with you’. It’s hard to put on a happy face when the guy you secretly adore shares all his intimate dreams with you, but you’re not any part of it, or when the ‘love of your life’ tells you he’s ‘having a baby with someone else’. That really hurt, but I survived that one too. Most people in my position end up believing that love is cruel and only for the lucky ones. I’m not so sure I believe that. I feel lucky that I dodged so many bullets and have more time to cook in the kitchen!
So back to the Ginger Hearts before I get side tracked again…every single person that has eaten one loves them from the very first bite. I’ve sold them in cafes, made them as gifts and make them on request for friends and family regularly. The icing takes time but worth the effort for all the love you get in return.
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 tsp Ground ginger or to your taste
Melt the above ingredients on the stove then cool down before the next step
3 cups of self-raising flour
1 egg slightly whisked
Pre-heat fan bake oven to 180 degrees
Whisk the egg in a bowl then slowly pour your cooled down honey, butter, sugar and ginger into the bowl (pic #1) Nb: If your wet mixture is too hot you’ll end up with scrambled eggs when you add it to the egg.
Sift the 3 cups of self-raising flour and add to your moist ingredients (pic # 2). The flour will start to soak in all the goodness of spice and all things nice. Once the mixture has combined, knead the dough until you have a log of gingerbread (pic #7)
If the dough is too sticky you need to sift some more flour and knead in until you have a non sticky feel. (pic#4) If the gingerbread resembles a crumbly texture (pic #5) you are ready to roll. Roll out the dough between two sheets of baking paper (pic #6)
The dough should be 1 cm in thickness (pic #1). Use a heart shape cookie cutter about 5cm in diameter. Any bigger and they look too giant once they expand. Put into the pre-warmed oven making sure every heart has about 3cm distance from other hearts.
Bake for approx 10 – 12 mins. The tops should look very light brown but not golden (pic #2). The bottom of the heart is where you want it to be golden (pic # 3). Once cooked put aside to cool and cook another batch.
500g of pure icing sugar (not soft icing sugar which has corn flour in it)
1 egg white
2 drops of Rose pink food colouring (add rose colour drops to white icing only after you have iced the white batch first)
Combine in a bowl (pic # 4) until all lumps disappear (pic #5). The consistency should be runny but not watery. You can add either a little chilled water or lemon juice to get it moist again. Once all biscuits are completely cooled down you are ready to ice with a flat knife (pic #6) It’s better to add more than less to start with then take off excess icing using the edge of your knife to neaten off the edges of the heart. Work as quickly as possible to avoid the icing drying up. Once iced, leave aside to dry before putting into storage.
This recipe should yield about 12 – 15 cookies. Keep stored in a glass jar. Should store for up to 3 weeks if not exposed to air.
Please always make sure you are not allergic to any foods in the ingredients provided before ingesting.