A hard, sometimes very hard, high-bake sweet wheatflour biscuit made with golden syrup, treacle or dark sugar. Typically 2 ins diameter, 1/4 ins thick. Baked to give a cracked surface appearance.
Earlier versions seem to have been an actual nut shape. Francatelli explains that the dough should be rolled into balls the size of a walnut.
Original Receipt in 'The Art of Cookery Made Easy and Refined' By John Mollard (Mollard 1802)
GOOD GINGERBREAD NUTS,
Take four pounds of flour, half a pound of sifted sugar, one ounce of carraway seeds, half an ounce of ginger pounded and sifted, six ounces of fresh butter, and two ounces of candied orenge peel cut into small slices. Then take a pound of treacle or honey and a gill of cream, make them warm together, mix all the ingredients into a paste, and let it lay six hours; then roll it out, shape it into nuts, and bake them in a moderate oven
For other varieties of gingerbread, see: Gingerbread
Ginger Nuts can be very hard indeed - "How a gingerbread biscuit took out the prime minister"...
The Times, 27 June, 1892
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