You may think it’s a bit premature to be preparing for Christmas in October, but think again! Shops are already stocking up with festive goods and those who prepare their own Christmas cakes in the traditional way will have had their fruit soaking in brandy for some time already.
If heavy, alcoholic fruit cakes and the accompanying teeth rotting combination of marzipan and icing aren’t for you, there are plenty of lighter baking options to exploit for the festive season. One of the simplest and most useful involves Christmas themed cookies. Get the kids involved too and experiment with a variety of flavours and decorations. Invest in a set of Xmas cookie cutters with shapes including Santa’s hat, an Xmas tree, a bell, a sleigh, a holly leaf, a star, a present, an angel and a stocking shape. Not only are these great to share, they can also be used to decorate your tree!
Basic recipe for Christmas cookie cutters
To make 24 biscuits:
- 100g unsalted butter, softened
- 100g caster sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 275g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 190ºC and line a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper.
Add the butter and sugar to a large bowl and cream together until light, fluffy and creamy. Gradually add the egg and vanilla extract, beating in well until fully combined.
Fold in the flour so the mixture forms a soft dough.
Lightly flour a work surface, turn out the dough and roll to a thickness of about 1cm. Use your Xmas cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the dough and place them carefully onto the baking tray. If you are planning to hang the decorations from your Christmas tree, make a small hole in the top of each biscuit before baking.
Bake for about 10 minutes, until the biscuits are light golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave the biscuits for about 5 minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.
Decorating biscuits made with Christmas cookie cutters
You now have some wonderfully festive shaped biscuits, but that’s not enough! You now have to decorate the biscuits in suitably Christmassy fashion.
To make a basic icing for this quantity, sift about 400g icing sugar into a large bowl and gradually add the water, stirring in well, until you have a smooth consistency. For two or more colours, just separate the icing mixture into separate bowls and add your food colouring very carefully, drop by drop.
Spread the icing onto your biscuits with a palette knife then decorate with edible glitter or other cake decorations.