As the Yuletide lights begin to glow around the edge of these dark, cold November days, I decided to get myself into a pre-emptive festive spirit by turning my recent obsession with ginger into a rich, grown-up spiced cookie, complete with a satiny caramel filling spiked with a little warm white pepper.
These are so good in the making and baking thanks to the lovely perfume of the spice, dark sugar and butter fusing together under your hands and blooming in a hot oven to fill the house with the fragrance of Christmas.
I cut them into star shapes because I love them but you could use any cutter you like. A word of caution: I didn’t roll my dough quite thin enough and the cookies were substantial. Not a bad thing on its own, but when I sandwiched them together with frosting, they did look slightly intimidating! So be careful to roll out the dough to the required thickness if you want a more delicate finish.
White Chocolate & Pepper Spiced Ginger Cookies with White Pepper Caramel Frosting
450g plain flour, plus more for work surface
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground white pepper
½ teaspoon salt
100g best quality white chocolate, finely grated
113g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
85g dark brown or muscovado sugar
1 large egg
175g black treacle
Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt in a large bowl and set aside. Beat butter and sugar together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Mix in egg and treacle.
Add flour mixture and grated chocolate, mixing on low until just combined. Divide dough into thirds and wrap each in cling-film. Refrigerate until cold and firm, for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 1/4-inch thick. Cut into shapes of your choice. Spread two inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, and refrigerate until the cookies firm up again, about 15 minutes.
Bake until crisp but not dark, 12 to 14 minutes. Leave to cool completely on wire racks.
Store between layers of greaseproof paper in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze (unfilled) for up to a month.
White Pepper Caramel Frosting
In a small saucepan, combine sugar, cubed butter, milk, white pepper and pinch of salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a bubble. Let mixture boil for 2 minutes then remove from heat and stir in vanilla.
Let mixture cool in the refrigerator until barely warm. Place caramel in a bowl and using an electric whisk, whisk caramel for 1 minute at high speed.
Add confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed until just combined, then beat at high speed for an additional 1-2 minutes.