Just to round things out, here are the gingerbread and biscotti recipes I used this year.
(paraphrased and adapted from Donna Hay magazine, issue 6, p 96)
125g (4 oz) butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup (4 fl oz) golden syrup
2 1/2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
2 tsp ground ginger tsp bicarb soda (baking soda)
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees celsius (375 F).
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until light and creamy. Add the golden syrup and beat well. Add the flour, ginger, and bicarb soda and stir to combine. Knead the dough lightly to form a smooth dough.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface, or between two sheets of non-stick baking paper to 5mm (1/4") thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes from the dough and place them on a baking paper lined tray. Be careful! The dough will be very soft.
Bake for 8-10minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the trays.
Ice with lemon icing. The lemon with the ginger 'lifts' the flavour considerably.
(paraphrased and adapted from The Essential Mediterrananean Cookbook, Murdoch Books, p 148)
2 cups plain (all purpose) flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup (8 oz) caster sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp grated orange rind
3/4 cup (3.5 oz) natural pistachio nuts
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius (350F).
Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper and dust lightly with flour.
Sift the flour and baking paper into a large bowl. Add the sugar and mix well. Make a well in the centre and add 2 whole eggs, the egg yolk, vanilla essence and orange rind. Stir until just combined. Mix in the pistachios. Knead for 2-3 minutes on a lightly floured surface. The dough will be stiff at first but quickly become soft. Add a little water if necessary.
Divide the mixture into two equal portions and roll each into a log about 25cm (10") long and 8cm (3") wide. Place the logs on the trays, allowing room for spreading. Slightly flatten the tops.
Beat the remaing egg and brush over the logs to glaze.
Bake for 35 minutes and remove from the oven.
Reduce the oven temperature to 150 celcius (300F).
Allow the logs to cool slightly, then cut them into 5mm slices.
Place slices flat side down on the trays.
BAke for 8 minutes. Turn the over and bake for a further 8 minutes, or until slightly coloured and crisp and dry.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.