Oh how I love this time of year.
It’s no secret that I’m not a fan of autumn and winter but December is most definitely excused.
I LOVE the festive season; the run up to Christmas is magical.
Preparation for the big day seems to consume my every waking minute and I love the way that the mood seems to be lighter — most people seem happier — and there’s a an air of excitement, almost as soon as the calendar rolls over from November.
It’s also the time of year that I like to cosy up indoors and indulge in a spot of crafting or baking. I barely seem to do any over the summer months — I’d much rather spend time outdoors than cooped up in the house — but winter (and especially the run up to Christmas) is the perfect excuse to stay inside and cook up a storm.
Gingerbread cookies are brilliant at any time of year but especially at Christmas.
The aroma of treacle and spices, as they’re cooking, is so festive. It’s the best kind of scent to welcome guests into your home.
These little Christmas themed biscuits are perfect to serve up to hungry visitors too, or boxed up to give as gifts (if you can manage to part with them!).
How to Make Christmas Snow Globe Cookies
This biscuit recipe itself is tried and tested. It makes wonderfully moreish biscuits that have a gentle snap when you break them and are soft to the bite. They’re delicious.
For the gingerbread biscuits
You will need:
200g plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder,
½ teaspoon each of mixed spice, ground ginger and cinnamon
50g dark muscovado sugar
100g salted butter softened and diced
50g black treacle
Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3 before you begin making your biscuits or when ready to cook.
Sift the flour, baking powder and all the spices into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and mix well.
Add the butter. Using just the tips of your fingers, rub the ingredients together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
When all the butter is evenly mixed in, make a well in the centre and add the treacle. Bring the mixture together to form a soft dough, combining lightly until it has an even colour with not too many streaks of treacle (I did this bit in the Kitchenaid to avoid handling it). Lightly form into a ball.
Divide into two and squash it into two even-sized flattish discs.
Place one disc of dough on a sheet of baking parchment. Begin by gently squashing the dough down with the rolling pin or your hands, cover with a second sheet of parchment then use the rolling pin to roll properly. If the top sheet crinkles, just peel it off, smooth it down gently and start rolling again. Gently roll the dough until it is 5mm thick all over.
Transfer the sheet of rolled dough, still sandwiched between its parchment, to a baking tray and place in the fridge to chill for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
Using your cutter, cut out the biscuits as close together as possible, lifting each one on to a parchment-covered baking tray and making sure that they are not too close together, as the dough will spread a little on baking.
Evenly space the trays in the oven and cook for 10-16 minutes, depending on your oven. Keep a close eye on the first couple of batches you cook until you get used to the recipes and your oven*.
*Mine cook in just 10 minutes in the top of the top oven of our AGA.
To decorate the biscuits, make up some royal icing. There are a gazillion recipes on the internet — all showing various quantities — but I make mine like this:
For the royal icing
You will need:
450g icing sugar
1 egg white
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
Food colouring gels
Beat the egg white with an electric whisk or mixer until it goes frothy.
Then add the lemon juice, followed by the sifted icing sugar spoon by spoon, on a high speed until you have the desired consistency.
I make my lining icing the consistency of toothpaste. The above icing recipe was perfect for this but you can add a little water to make sure you have the right consistency.
Next add your food colouring to the icing and mix well.
To Decorate Your Cookies
Spoon the icing into a plastic piping bag and snip the end off. Not too much though!! You want your lines to be small and neat!
Pipe a line around the edge of the biscuit first, then leave to dry for 10 minutes.
To flood the background of the cookies, water down the icing with a little water.
This makes it much easier to work with, as it’s much looser — almost like the consistency of single cream.
You can use a toothpick to tease the icing into all of the corners.
Release Your Inner Van Gogh
Leave the backgrounds to dry.
If you can muster the patience it’s worth leaving them overnight. Once they’ve hardened, you can begin to add the details to your cookies.
Use the same icing consistency that you used for the outlines.
Create as many dots and squiggles as you like! You can also add sweets, sugar balls and edible glitter too.
As I wanted to recreate my little snow-globe in biscuit form, I used food-colouring to handpaint the little robins on to the front of each biscuit. I figured it would be much easier than piping them on.
Plus I’ve spoken on the blog about enjoying water-colour painting and this was kind of the same thing! It was so therapeutic!
Once the robins had dried, I finished off the biscuits with little dots of piped icing, to look like snow.
A plateful of festive biscuits, inspired by some of our favourite decorations!