A couple of weeks ago I was in Sainsbury’s when I spotted a giant snowflake cookie cutter. It was only £4 and with Christmas fast approaching I thought it would be perfect for trying out some Christmas biscuits. If you’re looking to purchase one they are available via eBay and other cake related online shops. £4 is a bargain as they can sell for as much as £16! Gingerbread has become very popular at Christmas with gingerbread houses, men and various other Christmas related shapes gracing magazines and shops. I’ll be honest and say I’m not overly keen on ginger. I knew I needed a biscuit dough that I could roll out and cut to use my cookie cutter so had been investigating different spiced Christmas biscuits. I came across this BBC Good Food recipe for chocolate gingerbread and thought that the chocolate might help distract me from the taste of the ginger! The recipe is originally intended to make an advent calendar so makes a good quantity. I made 3 large snowflakes and also made some reindeer (also using a Sainsbury’s cookie cutter).
I will readily admit I’m not the most creative of people when it comes to decorating things so I was a little apprehensive. After looking at some images online I decided to go for simple white icing with some silver balls to decorate however you could let your imagination run wild and use all sorts of different decorations like edible glitter, sweets and sprinkles. For my reindeer I opted for some red icing for a nose and some light brown to decorate the antlers. I was happy with how they turned out but If I was to make them again I would probably be a little more ambitious! These would make lovely Christmas tree decorations – you would need to make a small hole in the top with a straw and then thread some ribbon or string through them. I did think after I took them out of the oven that they would look lovely baked with some crushed boiled sweets in the holes to create a stained glass window effect.
You will need 3-4 baking trays lined with baking parchment.
For the gingerbread
300g plain flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
120g butter (cubed)
120g brown sugar
140g golden syrup
For the icing
Approx. 200g icing sugar
Food colouring (if using)
1) Heat oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
2) Put the flour, cocoa, ginger, butter and sugar in a processor, and whizz until you can’t see any lumps of butter. Dribble in the syrup and pulse to a smooth dough.
3) Take about a quarter of the dough at a time and roll out between 2 sheets of baking parchment to the thickness of a £1 coin. Peel away the top layer of parchment and use cookie cutters to make shapes – leaving about 2cm between each shape as they will spread as they cook.
4) Peel away the dough trimmings and lift the parchment with the shapes onto a baking tray. Bake for 12-15 mins until firm. (If making Christmas tree decorations you will need to remove the gingerbread from the oven and use a plastic straw to make a hole for hanging and then put them back in the oven for 1 min to re-warm.)
5) Continue rolling and shaping all the remaining dough and trimmings while you bake a tray at a time, until all the dough is used up.
6) Once the gingerbread is completely cool you can decorate as you wish. If using icing make runny icing by mixing some sifted icing sugar with a dribble of water.
7) Fit a piping bag with a small nozzle and pipe on patterns and detail, colouring your icing if needed (I used gel colours and some tubes of coloured icing to ice the details on my reindeer.)