James’s firecracker gingernuts

Photos by Yvonne Wancke

If you like treats with a bit of a kick, these firecracker gingernuts are perfect for you. So moreish you’ll definitely have seconds, but with a fiery kick enough to tell you when it’s time to stop. For now.

These fiery biscuits are perfect for warming the tum on a frosty winter’s day while being scrumptious enough to eat on any other day of the year. Warning: eating these every other day of the year might not be good for health. Exercise moderation..

Tasty Tip: Always remember to weigh your dry ingredients before your wet – saves on washing up twice!


110g self-raising flour                                               40g demerara sugar

1 ½ tsp ground ginger                                               1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

30g stem ginger (crystallised or not)                     ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

50g unsalted butter                                                    50 mls golden syrup


Take the stem ginger and roughly chop into small pieces – you can be creative here, if you are a Precise Pat then dice into 5mm cubes, whereas if you are a Rustic Robin then go to town, chopping the pieces however you like. Please mind your fingers. Pop into a large bowl (not your fingers)

Add the self-raising flour, sugar, ground ginger and bicarb to the bowl. Now comes the cayenne pepper.

Tasty Tip: If you like a treat to blow your socks off then put a ¼ heaped tsp in. Whereas, if you like more of a sensational smoulder on the tongue, keep the measure at a level ¼ tsp. Mix lightly, if you like, I always do.

And finally, chop the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. This recipe can be used for dairy free, in that case I would suggest using non-dairy margarine, hard spread is better. Now it’s time to make some crumbs, no need to crumble at this point, it’s nice and easy.

Tasty Tip: cool your hands down, for this I tend to hold them under the cold water tap, other methods might be to stick them in the freezer. However you choose to do it, chill out and keep them cool. This will help to reduce the butter melting when you rub the crumbs together.

Using your fingertips and thumbs, lightly rub the flour mixture into the butter, picking up the mixture and rubbing between your finger pads.


Now some people at this point might go gung ho, grabbing with full fists, this will not produce breadcrumbs, more of a sticky mess. Talking of sticky messes, this is a great activity to attempt with children, or other members of the household. But on your head be it. Which is where it might end up. Continue this rubbing action until all of the flour mix and butter is combined, this should resemble breadcrumbs.

Now add the golden syrup to the crumb and mix together with your hands – no spoons here. Bring the mixture together into a dough ball.

Tasty Tip: if you are a bit liberal, like me, with the syrup, then at this point you may need to add a bit more flour, just enough to dry the mixture. This is where one of those other household members, or children, come in handy. A promise of a biscuit might help here.

Divide the dough into two and then divide each half into four, and then four again. This should give you 16 small balls of doughy goodness. Place on the lined baking trays, making sure to distance each ball as much as possible from the next as they will grow in size when baked.

Tasty Tip: size matters. The measurements of your baking tray will dictate how many balls you can fit. Therefore, if you need three trays, use three!

Time to get your hands in again, or rather just a thumb. Using whichever thumb you prefer, press in the centre of each ball firmly to flatten. Don’t worry if the top looks messy, this will give that distinctive cracking on the gingernut surface.

Place into the centre of a pre-heated oven at 160°C/ If you have a home assistant this is the time to set that timer for ten minutes, if you do not then utilise one of those children or household members to let you know. Failing that, use the clock. After ten minutes, check on the firecrackers – if they are golden brown then remove. If not, you can wait 5 minutes more, but watch them like a hawk, because they burn easily.

Once done and removed from the oven, leave to cool for five minutes and then remove from the baking trays and place on a cooling rack to cool thoroughly. Don’t worry if when you take the biscuits out of the oven they are slightly soft, they will harden when cooling. This is why it is important to leave them for five minutes before removing from the trays, or they may have a tendency to crack.

Once cooled, place the biscuits in an air tight container, lined with kitchen roll or tissue, and they should keep for a week. In my experience, you must always be vigilant when transferring the biscuits from cooling rack to container as I always find some of them disappear before they get into the box.

Tasty Tip: if these firecracker gingernuts are not enough to satisfy your biscuity needs, why not, once cooled, melt some dark chocolate then dip half of each firecracker in, leave to set and enjoy the wonder that is chilli and chocolate.

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