Today was one of those days where small tasks were accomplished. I had to stay at home because a cabinet fitter spent all morning fitting a wall unit in our lounge room, so I pottered about, baked and did little jobs that usually get overlooked in favour of Christmas shopping/preparations at this time of year.
Somewhat inspired by the small tasks, I made small gingerbread men… except they aren’t gingerbread men, they’re cinnamon men.
I think I’ll stick with Cinnamon men, I like the repetition.
I was going to make gingerbread men, I had every intention of making gingerbread men – it just didn’t happen. I was grabbing the ingredients out of the pantry when I realised that I don’t LOVE gingerbread. I like it, I’m just not nuts about it.
What I am pretty keen on, however, is caramel. I built this biscuit around caramel. I feel that cinnamon has as much claim to the warmth and festivity associated with this time of year as ginger bread… is this a really divisive subject?
Regardless of whether your team cinnamen or team gingerbread men, baking that has a festive feel or smell to it is really rewarding. So what are you waiting for?
Mini cinnamon men:
Makes 48 individual biscuits (24 sandwiches)
- 80g butter
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tbsp golden syrup
- 1 ¾ cups plain flour
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp bicarb
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp water
- 400g tin sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
Melt the butter, honey and golden syrup in a small pan over a medium flame, stirring regularly so it doesn’t burn. I used some beautiful ironbark honey that I won from A Slice of Orange, it packs a super honey flavour without being overly sweet. Whatever honey you have in your cupboard will work perfectly in this recipe. When the butter has completely melted, keep it over the flame for about a minute so that the mixture thins out.
Take the mixture off the heat and set to one side to cool. Measure out the flour, vanilla, bicarb, mixed spice and cinnamon into a bowl and stir to combine. Pour the warm liquid into the bowl and mix until the mixture is combined and starts to look like big crumbs.
Add the water in, one tablespoon at a time, and press the mixture together with your hands after each addition. When you’ve picked up all the stray bits of mixture and pressed them into one big blob, shape it into a disc and wrap tightly in clingwrap. Pop the disc in the fridge to settle for 10-15, as it is most likely still warm at this stage.
Preheat your oven to 180°C and line a large baking tray. Remove the dough from the fridge and sandwich it between two layers of baking paper to prevent sticking. Roll the dough out to about 5mm thickness and cut out your mini cinnamon men. Re-roll the left over dough and repeat.
I was able to make 48 cinnamen, but my cutters were only 4cm high – if you are using bigger cutters, you will get less mini cinnamen, just a warning.
Transfer the cinnamen (or other cinna-shapes that you might have cut out) to the lined baking tray and pop them in the oven for 6 minutes. They’re super quick because they’re so tiny. Again, if you’re using bigger cutters, they may need 8 or 12 minutes in the oven, experiment with baking one or two before you put the whole tray in the oven if you’re unsure.
While the cinnamen cool, pop the sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar in a large, thick-bottomed pan over high heat. Bring them to a boil quickly, stirring constantly, and keep mixing until it thickens and browns. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for two minutes.
Transfer into a mixing bowl and spoon two tablespoons of icing sugar. I used Penelope, my stand mixer for this bit because she whisked the lumps straight out of the caramel mixture. You need to work as quickly as possible, because the caramel mixture gets harder to pipe as it cools.
Scoop the caramel icing into a piping bag with a round nozzle fitted and pipe
caramel onto half of the biscuits. Make sure you don’t pipe right up to the edges,
leave a small gap so that when you press the other biscuit on top, the caramel doesn’t all come oozing out.