Here are some Christmas cookies yule love…
Nothing says Christmas more than the smell of nutmeg, ginger, and cinnamon all baking in the oven. Some of my fondest childhood memories are hours baking Christmas cookies with my mum, decorating a few and then eating way too many! Making festive treats is a great way of making lovely presents for family, whilst also keeping idle little hands busy during the holidays. These recipes are all relatively easy and all have an element ideal to get the kiddies involved in the baking process. Keep an eye out for tiny hands tips at the end of each recipe, after all, you’re working to raise a smart little cookies! The last recipe is less for the kids and more to get mama’s in the Christmas spirit. Serve with a hot cup of eggnog and you’re on your way to a holly jolly ho-ho-holiday!
Use your imagination to decorate these lovely, crisp biscuits from Great British Bake Off contestant Jane Beedle. Once dried, they will last for at least two to three weeks, making them ideal Christmas gifts.
For the biscuits
– 350g plain flour
– 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
– 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1 tsp ground mixed spice
– 1⁄2 tsp ground cloves
– 120g salted butter
– 175g light muscovado sugar
– 1 large egg, beaten
– 2 tbsp golden syrup
For the royal icing:
– 4 egg whites
– 1kg icing sugar
– 1⁄2 tsp almond extract
– Food colouring gels, as required
– Edible lustre and glitter powder
– 12 differently shaped Christmas cutters
– 3 baking trays lined with baking paper
– Small piping bags fitted with No. 1 nozzles – one bag for each colour
1.Heat the oven to 190°C/ 170°C fan/ Gas 5. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices. Place the dry mixture in a food processor with the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and pulse to combine.
2. Add the egg and syrup and work until the mixture begins to come together in a smooth dough. Turn out the dough onto a very lightly flavoured surface, knead lightly, then roll out to about 3mm thick. Cut out as many biscuits as you can, re-rolling the trimmings until you have used up all the dough. Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets.
3. Bake the cookies in batches for 12 – 15 minutes, depending on size, until they are just a little darker around the edges. Leave them to cool on the tray for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. Reduce the oven to 70°C/ 50°C fan/ Gas 1⁄4.
4. Meanwhile, make the royal icing. Lightly whisk the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, then gradually add the icing sugar until you have a thick piping consistency. Add the almond extract and stir well.
5. Divide the icing into bowls and add food colouring to each bowl as desired. Keep the bowls of icing covered while you aren’t’ using them to prevent the icing drying out on the surface.
6. To decorate the biscuits, first pipe the outline of your designs using icing in the appropriate colours piped from a small piping bag fitted with a No.1 nozzle.
7. Once you have the design outline, flood the biscuits. Mix each relevant colour with a little water until you reach a flooding consistency, then transfer the icing to individual piping bags and pipe inside the outline, using a cocktail stick to help ease the icing into any tricky areas, and to pop any little air bubbles. Let one colour dry for 10 minutes, before flooding the next.
8.Place the flooded biscuits to dry in the warm oven for 15 minutes before piping on any detailing. Once you’ve added the detail, return the cookies to the oven to dry out for a further 10 minutes, then brush on glitter and lustre dust to add that extra bling.
Recipe from: Jane Beedle’s 12 Days of Decorating Biscuits from The Great British Bake Off. Watch it on Thursday, 5 December 2019, 7.25pm exclusively on BBC Lifestyle (StarHub ch 432) and BBC Player.
We all know that Rudolph is magical, so it makes sense to recreate a little treat to honour this red-nosed reindeer…
2 cups flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
220g butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
2 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons pure vanilla or hazelnut essence
½ cup hazelnut spread e.g. Nutella
- Preheat oven to 170°C and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl.
- In a medium bowl cream the butter and sugar together until the mixture becomes pale yellow and fluffy.
- Next add the eggs and vanilla/hazelnut essence and mix together for another 3-5 minutes until the mixture is well incorporated.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated and the dough holds together.
- Using a table spoon scoop out servings of the dough and roll the dough into balls. Press each ball gently in the centre with your thumb or the handle of a wooden spoon to make an indentation – be careful to not press all the way through.
- Bake for about 10 minutes. The cookies should still be slightly soft when you remove them from the oven!
Tip: If your oven does not bake evenly, rotate the baking sheet in the oven after 5 minutes of baking.
- Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let them cool.
- Once cool, place around a teaspoon of Nutella in the centre of each cookie.
Tiny hands: Get the kids to roll out the cookies, make the thumbprint indentation in the middle and scoop in blobs of Nutella.
Even Santa’s little helpers need a snack now and again – and these sugary snacks will keep energy levels high.
2 egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar, caster
½ teaspoon peppermint essence
2-3 drops of green food colouring
- Preheat the oven to 120°C and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Using an electric mixer, whip the eggs whites in a clean bowl until they start to become frothy. Add the salt and continue to whip until soft peaks start to form.
- Gradually add the sugar a little bit at a time while continually whipping. Make sure the sugar dissolves before adding another load.
- Once all the sugar is added whip the mixture until stiff peaks form (the mixture should hold when you lift the mixer).
- Whisk in the peppermint essence and food colouring. Add colouring until you reach the colour you want, but be careful of adding too much colouring as it might make the mixture too runny.
- Pipe or spoon the meringue onto the baking sheet, bite size blobs work best.
- Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Decorate with crushed candy cane or chocolate.
Tiny hands: Get the kids to pipe or scoop blobs of meringue on a baking sheet and to decorate the meringues with crushed candy cane or chocolate, as soon as they come out of the oven.
These are Santa’s favourite for a reason! Best enjoyed with a tall glass of milk, next to the fireplace (or a flickering candle for most Singapore homes).
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
120g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar, light brown
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Sift together flour, baking powder, all the spices and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
- In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. It is best to do this with an electric mixture if you’re less experienced as this mixture needs to be very light.
- Add in the egg and vanilla and mix for another minute or two.
- Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix using a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated. The dough is ready when it can be shaped into a ball.
- Divide the ball into two pieces, wrap them in separate pieces of cling film. If you slightly flatten them, they are easier to roll out later. Let the dough rest for at least 2 hours (or overnight if you can).
- Preheat the oven to 160°C and prepare a baking sheet by placing parchment or baking paper on the sheet.
- Transfer one half of the dough to a floured surface and cover with a floured sheet of parchment paper. Roll out to just over ½ cm in thickness.
- Cut out shapes and place them on the prepared baking sheet. As soon as a tray is filled up place it in the oven.
- Bake for 12 minutes, until they are golden brown. Cool on a wire rack. Repeat this process with the second half of the dough.
- Eat as is or decorate with royal icing.
Tiny hands: Get the kids to cut out the cookies with different shaped cutters and decorate the cookies with royal icing. The more rustic they look the better!
Make your own gingerbread house with this recipe and our handy gingerbread house cut-out template that’s free to download!
- ¾ wholemeal flour and 1 ¼ cups plain flour
- 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of baking soda
- 3 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- Pinch of salt
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 3 tablespoons water
To decorate your gingerbread house:
- Royal Icing: 3 cups icing (confectioners’s/powdered) sugar, sifted mixed on high speed with 2 egg whites (ideally pasteurised), and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar. Keep covered when not using to prevent it from hardening.
- Lots of coloured candies, candy canes and smarties.
- Cut out the gingerbread house template (download from here).
- Sift together all the dry ingredients: flour, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt.
- Using an electric mixer, cream together butter and brown sugar until pale and creamy. Then pour in the honey and water and mix until well combined.
- Using a wooden spoon (or your mixer on low speed), gradually incorporate the flour mixture into the butter mixture until it comes together. Then kneed the dough gently on a floured surface until it becomes a smooth dough. If it feels too sticky, add a little more flour while kneading. If it is too dry, you can add a small amount more water.
- Shape into a ball, cover with cling wrap and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to rest and make it easier to work with later.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Line baking trays with non-stick baking paper and set aside.
- Between two sheets of non-stick baking paper, roll dough out. Place template sections on top of dough and cut to shape. Repeat with remaining dough, re-rolling the trimmings, until you have two side walls, a front and back wall and two roof panels and a chimney.
- Place the gingerbread pieces back into the fridge for about 15 minutes before baking as they tend to hold their shape a lot better.
- Bake gingerbread in oven for 10 – 12 minutes, or until golden brown. Allow to cool to hard on tray for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. This is really important as if they are not completely cool and hard then your gingerbread house won’t stand up!
- Once cool. Pipe generous amounts of icing using a piping bag along the wall edges, one by one, to join the walls together. Use a small bowl to support the walls from the inside, then allow to dry, ideally for a few hours. Once dry, remove the supports and pipe icing onto the roof panels and chimney to fix on. Once dry it’s time to let the kids decorate using the remaining icing as glue to fix on the candies and sweets!
As Christmas’ most understated hero, Mrs Claus definitely deserves a treat of her own. Yes, this is our way of patting you on the back for surviving the silly season!
220g butter, unsalted, room temperature
5ml rum essence
½ cup sugar
2 cups flour
¾ teaspoon salt
Icing sugar for dusting
- Preheat oven to 160°C and prepare a rectangular baking sheet (20cm x 18 cm) by laying it out with parchment paper
- Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, nutmeg and salt) in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, cream the butter until fluffy then add the sugar and rum essence. Continue until the mixture is light yellow and airy.
- Next, add the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until all the flour is incorporated.
- Place the dough into the prepared pan and pat it so it’s even. Prick holes in the dough with a fork or a toothpick at equal intervals.
- Bake for around 35-40 minutes or until the dough is firm – it shouldn’t become too brown.
- Allow to cool completely before cutting and dusting with icing sugar
Christmas is a lovely time to spend with family and I can’t think of a better way to spread the holiday cheer than by sharing something made with love. It is, after all, the season of giving!
Featured image via Unsplash
Images #1, 2, 3, 5 taken by Leandi Archer
Image 4 via Pexels