Portion/Yield:Makes 40–50 biscuits
Wow! I had so much fun making these pretty but rustic festive ginger biscuits, which are ideal for Christmas. I was all on my own when I made them, so it would have been even more fun if I had been joined by friends. I must confess that I had edible glitter and pink royal icing all over the kitchen, in my hair, stuck to my face… just about everywhere.
The recipe for these ginger biscuits is one of my old classic favourites and I normally make gingerbread men, but the beauty of this recipe is its versatility and it can be used to make pretty much any shape you like.
I started making these biscuits to give to friends and colleagues, but then it dawned on me that they would be perfect for my Christmas tree too. I made the first batch with holes in the raw dough, but because these were not large enough, I could not thread the string through the holes. Armed with this discovery, I was more prepared the second time, so I made the holes in the raw dough fairly big and then re-enforced them when the biscuits came out of the oven and were still warm. I used rustic red string but you can use pretty colourful silky ribbons of your choice.
I love this idea to customise your Christmas tree, so no one else will have the same decorations as you. Clever, eh?!
Once I got into the swing of things, I then decided to get the edible glitter (that I also use on my cupcakes) from the back of the larder and dust my biscuits with the glitter. It’s very pretty when the light falls on the glitter and the sparkle is especially enhanced when you have candles lit in the room. It’s truly picture perfect. Who says decorating a Christmas tree needs to be expensive or boring?
Ingredients & Method
For the Ginger Biscuits
- 300g unsalted butter, softened
- 400g dark muscovado sugar (or soft dark brown sugar)
- 300g golden syrup
- 4 medium eggs
- 1kg plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- 4 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 4 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons ground mixed spice
For the Royal Icing
- 1 large free-range or organic egg white, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 165g icing sugar, sifted
- food colouring(s) of your choice
- edible glitter and/or silver balls and other decorations of your choice
- colourful/decorative string or ribbon to match your colour scheme
Prepare the biscuit dough. Cream the butter, brown sugar and golden syrup together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and spices together. Gently fold the flour mixture into the creamed mixture to make a dough. Divide the dough in half, then wrap each portion in cling film and refrigerate for a minimum of 12 hours (overnight is best).
The next day, preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas Mark 2. Line 2 large baking sheets with non-stick baking paper.
Roll out the biscuit dough on a lightly floured surface to about 5mm thickness. Use biscuit cutters to cut out the shapes of your choice, then arrange these on the prepared baking sheets (you’ll need to do this in 2–3 batches), leaving at least a 1cm gap between each one to allow the biscuits to spread slightly and bake evenly. Use a sharp knife to make a hole for the string in each biscuit (be generous with the size of your holes as they close up easily). Bake in the oven for 15–18 minutes or until golden brown but not too dark.
Remove from the oven and immediately reinforce the holes to make sure they are big enough for the string or ribbon before the biscuits cool down too much (if you make the holes after they have cooled down, the cookies will break; disaster!). Leave the biscuits to cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a wire rack and leave to cool completely. Roll out, then cut, bake and cool the remaining biscuits in the same way (see Cook’s Note). The undecorated biscuits will keep for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container (the decorated biscuits will keep for up to a week in an airtight container – see below).
Next, make the royal icing. Mix all the icing ingredients together in a bowl to make a smooth paste. If the icing is too wet, add more icing sugar, and if it’s too dry, add more lemon juice. The icing goes hard quickly so make it when you are ready to use it. I make little portions at a time so that I can play with the colours. It’s also very important to sift the icing sugar to get rid of any lumps.
Decorate the biscuits with royal icing. Using a small palette knife, spread some of the icing over the biscuits, then use a piping bag (fitted with a small plain nozzle) to pipe icing over the biscuits too, if you like. Sprinkle the icing with edible glitter or a decoration of your choice (be sure to do this before the icing sets). Thread decorative string or ribbon through the holes.
Keep the decorated ginger biscuits in an airtight container (see above) or hang them immediately on your festive Christmas tree. The decorated biscuits hung on the tree will remain edible for up to a week, but after that they can be left on the tree, but won’t be suitable for eating (as they will gradually soften). After 2 weeks on the tree, the decorated biscuits may then need to be replaced with freshly made ones.
The wrapped unbaked biscuit dough will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days. It can also be frozen for up to 3 months. If frozen, when required, simply defrost the dough in the fridge overnight, then roll, cut out and bake as directed above.