Tonka Gingerbread Men – Recipe

Not long until Christmas now, but instead of baking my standard gingerbread, I decided to kick things up a notch and replace some of the spice with my favourite fragrant ingredient: tonka bean.

The tonka imparts a vanilla-y, creamy and slightly floral aroma to these biscuits. Usually when making gingerbread I up the spice levels and add black pepper for a bit of punch, but I didn't want the tonka to be too drowned out. Here, the ginger is still accompanied by a little cinnamon and nutmeg, but is supported with the sweet fragrance of tonka.

Ready? Let's go.


100g unsalted butter, softened
100g soft brown sugar
125ml golden syrup
1 egg yolk
350g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tonka bean, finely-grated (I use a nutmeg grater)
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Extra flour for rolling

Makes about 18 men.


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C  and line a couple of baking sheets with non-stick baking parchment.

2. Cream the butter, sugar, syrup and egg yolk together in a large bowl. Sift in the dry ingredients, kneading until you have a smooth dough.

3. Roll the dough out on a floured surface until about 5mm thick. Stamp out your shapes, place on the trays and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. You may need to do this in a few batches depending on the size of your oven.

4. Let the biscuits cool completely on a wire rack before decorating as you like (I piped royal icing, but you can use glace icing or buttercream if you like).

Enjoy, and have fun!


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