This is what I did:
- Melted 110g unsalted butter in a small pan with 110g soft brown sugar and 8 tbsp honey (Beech Forest HoneyDew).
- Stirred until combined, then left to cool a little.
- Sieved 225g rye flour and 225g white flour into a bowl with 2 tsp baking powder 2 tbsp cocoa, 2 heaped tsp homemade mixed spice, 1 heaped tsp cinnamon, 1 heaped tsp ginger and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper.
- Made a well in the centre and poured in the butter mixture then broke in a large egg.
- Stirred the mixture together starting from the middle until all incorporated.
- Brought it all together with my hands to form a ball.
- Cut this in two then rolled out (one at a time) to the thickness of about 1/4 cm.
- Cut out about 80 stars and hearts by re-rolling the leftover bits several times.
- Placed them on lined baking trays about a cm apart and baked the first batch for 8 minutes at 200C.
- Sadly, these burnt, so I reduced the temperature to 180C and baked the rest for 7 minutes only.
Already feeling cross for having burnt the first 20 biscuits, I was not particularly looking forward to icing the biscuits. I don't have much patience for artistic endeavours and I found cutting stars out of the pastry was fiddly enough. In the end, I ran out of time anyway. Luckily, these looked really good even in their unadorned state. They had a good crunchy biscuity texture and tasted wonderfully warm and spicy with an unmistakable hint of honey. The touch of chilli was good too, giving just the right amount of additional warmth. Ren advises that these keep well for up to two weeks and I would say from the snappiness of them that this is very likely true. They have all left the house in hampers now though, so I am unable to verify this assertion.
A few weeks ago, the New Zealand Honey Co had sent me a 340g bottle of their 10+ pre-biotic Beech Forest Honeydew to try. It's quite a dark honey that is gathered by the bees from honeydew rather than flower nectar. It is claimed to be particularly good for the immune system and digestion. This may or may not be true, but I have to say this was totally delicious. It has a deep rich and not too sweet flavour and has more body than many other honeys I have tried, leaving a nice flowery aftertaste. It warms the back of the throat in a healing sort of way - it feels like it's doing you good. I have used it now in a number of recipes but also on toast for breakfast. It worked particularly well in these biscuits, giving them a special richness. This is also my first experience of honey contained in a squeezy bottle and it certainly helps to deliver it to the right spot without the usual mess and wastage. Not that I object to licking the spoon or my fingers come to that.