Spiced Honey Cookies
This cookie is a little love affair between Swedish pepparkakor and Polish pierniki.
We wanted a punchy and zesty cookie. Cookie which is well spiced but without cinnamon. Why? We love earthy aroma of cinnamon. In some cases though, it does overpower other spices and once you remove it from the mix you get a cookie which is vibrant, refreshing, bright in colour and the blend of other spices (and zest!) is more prominent. This, paired with honey, creates beautiful combination (visual, flavour and texture).
All in all - zesty, vibrant, well spiced cookies. Cookie dough matures for 2-3 days to infuse spices and zesty aroma. Cookies bake keeping shapes and imprints intact. These spiced honey cookies have crisp edges, soft, zesty and spicy middle.
Store in airtight container (cool and dry place) for 2-3 weeks.
For a good bake:
- Sugar and zest - using your finger tips rub lemon zest into sugar to release zesty aroma. Orange blossom water is optional but recommended here. If you don’t have it and you wonder whether you should buy it or not - it’s not expensive and you can use it in a variety of bakes - chocolate cakes, cheesecakes, sweet dough, pancakes. Few drops is all that is needed. Here is a good read on it.
- Honey mixture - after bringing milk, zesty sugar and honey to boil the mixture will look split (lemon+milk). That’s ok, cool it down to 70-80C (hot but not boiling) and pour over butter and spices.
- Make sure to cool down honey/butter/spice mixture to room temperature before adding flour. Otherwise you will end up with floury aftertaste in baked cookies.
- Mix the dough briefly - few swift moves, just enough to bring cohesive dough together. You may opt to mix the dough using fork (few swift moves) and then form the dough by hand.
- 48hr rest - Why? The dough will firm up during the rest, the texture will become aerated, you will give honey, spices and zest a chance to infuse cookie dough with flavour and aroma. Notice how the aroma changes - after 2 days your fridge (even though the dough is nicely wrapped in clingfilm) will be full of beautiful zesty/spicy aroma.
- Rolling out the dough and cutting shapes - dust the surface and rolling pin with flour. Roll out 0.2-0.3cm thin (no imprint) or 0.3-0.4cm (with imprint). Cookies will double when baked so best is to roll out as thin as you can. You may find it useful to roll out the dough in-between two pieces of parchment paper, cut out the shapes, remove excess dough and bake on the parchment paper (without lifting shaped cookies). If you are imprinting cookies (for example using Nordic Ware or springerle stamps) - you may find it useful (if not using parchment paper trick) to lift shaped cookies using wide knife and transfer onto large baking tray. Cookies cut with clean edges but if you notice (especially when using imprints) that edges are ragged - even them out using large kitchen knife - it does not have to be perfect as baking fixes minor issues.
Spiced Honey Cookies Recipe
Yield: 12 cookies
Time: 20min prep + 48hr rest + 20min prep +7-9min baking
Tin: large baking tray + cookie cutters
- 225g all purpose flour
- 25g rye flour
- 2/3 tsp baking soda
- 60g unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and soft
- 2/3 tsp coarse sea salt (use 1/3 tsp if using table salt but coarse would be ideal)
- 1 and 1/3 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper (scant tsp)
- 85g caster sugar
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest (zest from 2 medium, unwaxed lemons)
- 70g good quality honey (go with bright, light coloured - acacia, linden)
- 50ml full-fat milk
- 1/4 tsp orange blossom water (optional but recommended)
Lemon-Butter glaze (optional, brush when cookies are still warm):
- 80g confectioners' sugar
- 1/8 tsp nutmeg (scant tsp)
- 15g unsalted or salted butter, melted and warm
- 1 Tbsp +1 tsp (20ml) clear lemon juice
- 1 tsp (5ml) hot water
1. Prepare dry ingredients: Mix all purpose flour with rye flour and baking soda and sift into small bowl.
2. Prepare spiced butter: Place butter into your main mixing bowl, add salt, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cardamom, black pepper. Set aside.
3. Combine the dough: Rub zest into sugar (use your finger tips to release zesty aroma). In a medium pot mix honey, milk, zesty sugar and bring to boil (stir to make sure sugar is fully dissolved). Remove from the heat immediately after boiling. The mixture may look split - that’s ok. Wait until it cools slightly (should be hot but not boiling) and pour onto butter and spices (from Step 2), add orange blossom water (if using) and stir until combined. Wait until the mixture cools down to room temperature (important). Add sifted flour (from Step 1) and combine all ingredients until the dough forms (don’t over-mix, just few moves to bring cohesive dough together). Roll into log shape and wrap in cling film. Refrigerate for 48-72 hours before baking.
4. Shape cookies: Dust your work surface with flour, divide the dough in two and roll out each piece 0.2-0.3cm thin. You may find it handy to roll out the dough in-between two pieces of parchment paper, cut shapes and place parchment paper together with cookies on the baking tray. See notes above about rolling out the dough. Place cookies on a large baking tray, leaving some 2-3cm space in-between. Place the tray into the fridge and preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan forced (15-20min).
5. Bake: When ready, bake for 7-9 min at 200C (180C fan forced). Bake thinner cookies closer to 7 minutes, thicker 9 up to 11 minutes (0.3-0.4cm) - the edges should be golden and middle bright creamy/pale yellow in colour. Store in airtight container for up to 3 weeks.
6. Lemon-Butter glaze: Sift confectioners' sugar with nutmeg, add warm melted butter, lemon juice and hot water and mix until combined and smooth. The glaze should have consistency of runny honey. Brush cookies when still warm. If you notice the glaze is thickening - add few drops of hot water.
Inspiration: We relied on Polish Regional Guild Paper (1991, kujawsko-pomorski region) for recipes for pierniki and The Nordic Baking Book by Magnus Nilsson (2018) for pepparkakor. For the lemon-butter glaze - just a different option and twist to a rum-butter glaze published in Sweet by Helen Goh and Yotam Ottolenghi (2017).