Inspired by Tom’s Edinburgh-themed Christmas showstopper, these gingerbread biscuits look beautiful hung individually from a tree with twinkly fairy lights lighting up the windows. They make a fun, family Christmas activity for the start of the holidays to get everyone in the mood.
Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/Gas 6.
Make the gingerbread. Place the butter, treacle and sugar in a medium pan over a low heat. Stir for about 3–5 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved.
Place the spices, orange essence, flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Pour over the treacle mixture and stir to form a dough. Bring the dough together with your hands. If the mixture is very crumbly, add just enough cold water (about 1 tablespoon) so that it binds together to make a stiff, smooth dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and leave for 15 minutes – this will help the dough absorb the butter, but don’t worry if it feels a bit oily.
Place each colour of boiled sweet into a separate mug or bowl. Using the end of a rolling pin, gently bash and grind them to break them up (alternatively, place them one by one into a small food processor and blitz to a coarse powder).
Dust the work surface with flour. Roll out the dough to about 3mm thick and use your cutters to cut out Christmas tree shapes. Transfer each tree to a lined baking tray, spacing the biscuits well apart. Once you’ve transferred all the biscuits, cut ‘windows’ in each tree – you could just cut random shapes using a sharp knife, or cut circles using the end of a piping nozzle, or use a smaller tree cutter to cut a tree-shaped centre in the larger biscuits. Be creative! If you intend to hang your biscuits on a tree, use the end of the piping nozzle to cut a hole in the top of each tree for threading string.
Place the trays in the oven and bake the biscuits for 8 minutes. Then, remove from the oven and sprinkle a little heap of crushed sweets in the windows of each biscuit (don’t overfill or the sweets will boil out over the edges). Sprinkle several colours into one window for a mottled effect, if you like. Return the biscuits to the oven for a further 5 minutes, until the sweets have melted. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the baking trays.
Meanwhile, make the icing. Place the egg white in a medium bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Add the icing sugar and beat with a hand-held whisk until thick and smooth.
Transfer the icing to the piping bag fitted with a fine writing nozzle. Pipe around the biscuit edges in solid lines and dots, as desired. Leave to set before serving. If you’re hanging the biscuits, thread the decorative string through the hole you’ve cut in the top of each tree and tie a knot to secure.