Edible Christmas decorations are perfect for a Christmas party. You can use the idea at other times of year, too, of course: the biscuits make a fun take-home alternative to a slice of birthday cake at the end of a birthday party.
Hands-on time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Baking time: 10 minutes
Skill level: Easy
For the biscuits:
180g unsalted butter
150g dark muscovado sugar
pinch of salt
75g golden syrup
450g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
4 tsp green cardamom pods, husks removed and seeds ground; or 2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp whole milk
150g ready-tempered pearl and silver nibs, or clear hard-boiled mints
silver edible dust
For the royal icing:
20g pasteurised egg white
110g icing sugar
blue food-colouring gel
You will also need:
Snowflake cutters in various sizes
8cm round biscuit cutter
2 baking sheets lined with baking paper
Small piping bag fitted with a No.2 writing nozzle
Ribbon for hanging
Step 1 – Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/Gas 4.
Step 2 – Make the biscuits. Place the butter, sugar and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment and mix on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and creamy. Add the golden syrup and mix again until smooth, then stir in the plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and ground spices. Beat in the egg yolk and milk and mix until the dough comes together and is soft, but not sticky.
Step 3 – Tip out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it out until about 6–7mm thick and stamp out 12 large snowflakes and 12 8cm circles, re-rolling the trimmings as necessary. Cut out the centres of some of the snowflakes with smaller snowflake cutters, to make ‘windows’.
Step 4 – Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheets and use the toothpick to pierce a hole near the top of each biscuit large enough for threading with ribbon later. Add ready-tempered nibs or hard-boiled mints in the window of each snowflake – you’ll need 1 nib or half a boiled sweet for the centre of small snowflakes, and 3 nibs or 1–1 1/2 boiled sweets for larger ones.
Step 5 – Bake the biscuits for 10 minutes, until they are just turning brown at the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little until the windows have set, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. (If any of your threading holes have closed up during baking, re-pierce while the biscuits are still warm.)
Step 6 – Make the royal icing. Put the egg white and a few tablespoons of the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on a slow speed until combined, then add the rest of the icing sugar and mix on low–medium speed until it is a piping consistency.
Step 7 – Spoon 4 tablespoons of the royal icing into a small bowl, cover and set aside. Place the remainder in the small piping bag fitted with a No.2 writing nozzle. Pipe around the edges of the star biscuits and the windows, plus any extra detail as you wish, then sprinkle over the silver dust.
Step 8 – To pipe the round biscuits, pipe dots as snowflakes in the sky. Then, pipe an outline of the landscape, piping 2 lines to identify where the landscape will be blue and where white. Mix the reserved icing with a tiny drop of water to give a very thick flooding consistency and carefully spoon into the white area of the biscuit, using the cocktail stick to help it flow to the edges.
Step 9 – Colour the remaining icing with a little blue food-colouring gel, then flood blue icing into the top area of the landscape. Pipe a white house and trees on each biscuit and leave to set. Attach the hanging ribbons. Use the biscuits to hang individually on your Christmas tree, or thread them together in bunting or as a chandelier.