There are two things that dominate/determine the scent of Advent fairs: mulled wine and gingerbread. Those two spicy fragrances help you prepare for Christmas in a festive spirit. In Hungary you can meet two kinds of gingerbread: one of them is mézeskalács that means the well-known, cutout and decorated gingerbread cookies, which can be simply eaten, but they can also serve as a perfect gift or used as a Christmas tree ornament; the other one is mézes puszedli – soft and crumbly, domeshaped biscuits covered with royal icing. Big advantage of the following recipe is that biscuits are soft, not crispy, you don’t have to wait until they softens enough, so you won’t break a tooth on the first bite.
If you would like to make mézes puszedli at home, don’t hesitate, because it doesn’t require too much time and effort. You don’t need to leave the dough to rest, you can bake the biscuits right after you have made the dough. Stores offer gingerbread spice mix, but I use my own blend that consists of cardamom, ginger, anise, cinnamon, allspice, clove and nutmeg – all ground, in equal portions. It’s not prescribed to use only these spices, feel free to add more or leave out those you don’t like.
As regards the royal icing many recipes say to simply whisk the egg whites with sugar and some lemon juice. However, I beat the egg whites in this case over a pot of simmering water because heat upgrades the icing’s consistency by making it firmer and prevents a contingent salmonella infection.
For the dough:
- 700 g (~5 2/3 cups) flour
- 400 g (~14 oz) honey
- 50 g (~1/3 cup) icing sugar
- 210 g (~7 1/2 oz) butter, softened
- pinch of salt
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tbsp gingerbread spice mix (ground cardamom, ginger, anise, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and clove, or what you like)
- 3 tsp baking soda
For the royal icing:
- 2 egg whites
- 160 g (~1 1/4 cups) icing sugar
- a few drops of lemon juice
Line 2-3 baking trays with parchment paper. Set the oven to 200°C / 392°F.
Place all the ingredients in a big bowl and knead into a soft, but pliable dough. Tear nut-sized pieces from the dough, shape into balls and place them onto the baking trays leaving 3 inch spaces in between as the dough expands during baking. Bake the biscuits for 9-10 minutes.
Prepare the icing. Put the egg whites in a metal bowl, place over a pot of simmering water and whisk until foamy, then slowly add icing sugar, whisking continuously. Stir in lemon juice, and whisk until very stiff peaks form.
Dip the top of the biscuits into the royal icing and allow to set. Store in an airtight container.