I know I’ve written several gingerbread recipes or drawn from it’s heady spice in the past but at Christmas time, I can not help myself – gingerbread is as necessary as a christmas tree and tinsel. It’s hard to go past such a synonymous aromatic scent for Christmas. So this year, I thought I would convert the traditional gingerbread house into edible gift boxes to place on the dining table, each one filled with completely unnecessary, but immensely gratifying lollies, all tied up with a merry bow.
You can make these boxes in any size you like – I used the outline of my Rubik’s cube for my stencil. And I would not get caught up in the pursuit of perfectly straight lines and right angles – the baking will see to it’s own idea of shape and form. Don’t worry about your piping skills either, mine are less than refined. After all, it’s not every day we get to practice using royal icing as a food-grade cement. You can fill any gap or hide any crack with icing, lollies or ribbons.
Each box can be filled with anything you like and they can be decorated in any way you choose. I think a little box of treats at each place would make anyone feel welcome at the table and it elevates the idea of the ‘take-home party bag’ to festive heights – completely and unashamedly kitsch.
700gm plain flour
180g butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tbsp nutmeg
In a food processor, blitz the flour, butter, sugar and spices until the texture is similar to course bread crumbs. Add the golden syrup and eggs one at time and continue to blitz. Turn the dough onto a clean board and shape it into a firm ball. Place the ball of dough in the fridge for at least one hour.
Trace the outline of a square onto a piece of baking paper and cut the shape until you have a square stencil.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Roll out small balls of dough until it is approximately 3mm thick. Use the stencil to cut square shapes from the dough and place each one on a lined baking tray. Bake the dough squares for 15 minutes. You will need 6 squares for each box. The number of complete boxes will depend on the size of your stencil. Allow the gingerbread to cool on a baking rack.
3 egg whites
5 cups pure icing sugar
Whip the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the icing sugar until a thick and even paste forms. Place the icing into a piping bag with a small nozzle in place (I used a size 3 nozzle).
Begin by piping icing along the edges of the base piece (the bottom of the box). Continue to pipe icing along the edges of each wall piece and position them using a glass or cup to hold the walls steady until they are dry (depending on the climate, this may take 24hrs). Use the remaining icing to decorate each box in which ever style you prefer.