Sunday, 18 December 2011

Christmas Cookies


The time between my last post at the end of October to now, one week away from Christmas, has gone by with the blink of an eye.

With social aspects of my life taking centre stage of late, I have been left with little time to bake, take photos and blog. I have really missed it, particularly after seeing some of the great things people have been creating on my favourite blogs.




Being one of those people that declares Christmas as their favourite time of the year, I could not miss out on doing a festive post.

A house filled with lit up Christmas scented candles, blaringly loud festive tunes and a batch of snow white frosted star shaped cookies later and I'm filled with so much joy and Christmasy good feeling.

I hope you are all enjoying the festive season too. 




These cookies, recipe by the ultimate advocate for Christmas baking and food, Nigella Lawson, are lovely. I was abit dubious about the addition of the pepper but it works nicely with the aromatic notes of the cloves and cinnamon. These are definitely going to be a regular part of my Christmas baking repertoire from now on.




Ingredients

FOR THE BISCUITS:
  • 300g plain flour, plus more for dusting 
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1–2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 
  • 100g soft butter
  • 100g soft dark sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten with 4 x 15ml table-spoons runny honey

FOR THE ICING AND TRIMMINGS:
  • 300g instant royal icing, from a packet 
  • edible gold or silver balls or sprinkles 
  • florists’ ribbon for hanging

Serves: 35 - 40

  1. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3.
  2. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a food processor and, with the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the beaten eggs and honey, though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up.
  3. Form 2 fat discs and put one, covered in clingfilm or in a freezer bag, in the fridge while you get started on the other.
  4. Then dust a work surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about 5mm and cut out your Christmas decorations with cutters of your choice, which could include fir-tree shapes, angels, stars, snowflakes, and so on.
  5. Re-roll and cut out some more, setting aside the residue from this first disc, well covered, while you get on with rolling out the second. When you’ve got both sets of leftover clumps of dough, roll out and cut out again, and keep doing so till all the dough’s used up.
  6. Now take a small icing nozzle and use the pointy end to cut out a hole just below the top of each biscuit (through which ribbon can later be threaded).
  7. Arrange the pastry shapes on the lined baking sheets and cook for about 20 minutes: it’s hard to see when they’re cooked, but you can feel; if the underside is no longer doughy, they’re ready. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
  8. Make up the instant royal icing, beating it until it’s thick enough to be able to cover the biscuits with a just-dripping blanket of white; but don’t beat it for as long as the packet says or you’ll have icing so thick it will need to be spread with a spatula and you won’t get such a neat outline.
  9. Carefully ice the cold decorations, using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing), and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like. When the icing is set, thread ribbon through the holes and hang on your tree.

MAKE AHEAD TIP:

Make the biscuits up to 1 week ahead and store in an airtight container. Ice the biscuits the day before needed to allow them plenty of time to set.


FREEZE AHEAD TIP:

The raw cookie dough can be made and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight.  The cooked biscuits can be made and frozen in sealable bags for up to 6 months.

Enjoy!

13 comments:

  1. Christmas is my favorite time of year too. I love everything about it; the shopping, the lights, the tree, the snow, the food! It's all so much more magical this time of year. These look like amazing cookies. And I adore Nigella, she has such a soothing voice.

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  2. Another huge Christmas fan here, I love it! I make these exact same cookies from Nigella's recipe. So delicious.

    Wishing you a wonderful Christmas :-))

    Paula @ Spoons 'n' Spades

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  3. I've added pepper to my desserts before, but not quite that much - I'll be more daring next time, as you say they worked so well in these cookies!

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  4. We missed you, Mandy! These cookies are adorable and so festive. Holiday baking isn't complete without Christmas music blaring in the background. :)

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  5. What lovely festive photographs and beautifully decorated biscuits. I made some very similar to this last week for the hampers I'm giving as presents this year, but I added cayenne pepper to mine. That worked well too BUT I didn't manage to get around to icing them - hey ho!

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  6. Becca - I love Nigella too, shes my food idol!

    Paula - Wishing you a fab Christmas too!

    Leaf - I was pleasantly surprised by the pepper, it wasnt over powering.

    Caroline - Thank you! Going to try and fit in more Christmas baking tomorrow.

    Choclette - Thank you for your lovely comment, the hampers sound like a great idea!

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  7. Hmm, christmas used to be my favorite holiday too~ Love how you decorate these cookies... but i really want to make my own royal icing... though it is my biggest fear right now....

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  8. Your biscuits/cookies are adorable. Love the decorations.
    Hope you had a lovely Christmas.

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  9. Jesica - I wouldnt even know where to start with making my own royal icing so good on you for wanting to attempt it!

    Indie Tea - I had a lovely Christmas thank you! Hope you did too.

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  10. First time here..Glad I reached here..Following you right away...This looks delicious.…Totally yummy..Thanks for sharing it dear…Should try it soon…If you have time do check my blog too…

    Aarthi
    http://yummytummy-aarthi.blogspot.com/

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  11. Aarthi - Thank you for visiting the blog, will look forward to checking out yours too!

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  12. Your cookies look gorgeous! Decorating cookies is one of my favorite things to do during the holidays! :)

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  13. Hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Those cookies are adorable!

    Maria
    x

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