*cue Michael Bublé* – what does this guy do for the other 11 months of the year? That is the real question.
Christmas baking always gets me in the mood for Christmas, I was a little stuck for ideas this year and although I LOVED last year’s Christmas bake (still my favourite bake to date), I didn’t fancy making another gingerbread house and opted for something easier and quicker. These little chocolate biscuits are the perfect gift, tree decoration, gingerbread substitute, accompaniment to your morning cup of tea. Take them to school, uni, for work colleagues or keep them all to yourself. Basically a festive jack of all trades. These will stay good for a couple of weeks once iced and kept in an airtight tin.
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind few weeks over here, Storm Desmond caused a huge powercut – we got evacuated from campus with half an hours notice and off I trotted home for Christmas a week early… With three of my flatmates bundled in to the back of my tiny car! We kinda turned up at my parents’ house and demanded TLC after our traumatic powercut experience. Once drama queens… Always drama queens. Regardless, it was nice to get an extra week’s holiday and sleep in my own bed! Unfortunately, amongst all the haste, I left loads of baking stuff up in Lancaster and subsequently couldn’t bake half the things I’d planned for you guys! Improvisation will happen though, don’t worry. I gotchu guys over the festive period. I gotchu.
I’m slightly conflicted when it comes to the nomenclature associated with cookies/biscuits. In the UK, a biscuit is well, a biscuit (think digestive biscuits). And a cookie is you know, a cookie (think Maryland cookies). In the USA, they refer to both of the above as cookies and call their scones biscuits… (?!?!) For the purposes of this blog post and keeping my readers over the pond happy, I will refer to these biscuits as both cookies and biscuits.
This recipe makes quite a lot of biscuits. But that’s NEVER a bad thing and you probably have all the ingredients in your cupboards anyway. Icing the little decorations on them is SOMUCHFUN. But if you have small children, it could get messy. Still super fun, but icing may or may not end up all over the place. I’m a 21-year-old, fairly calm and collected individual – I iced these alone and icing still ended up on the ceiling. *mops ceiling furiously before my mum finds out*
I also wanted to show you guys that you can make festive and Christmassy shapes WITHOUT special cookie cutters! I (badly) drew a Christmas tree shape and a gingerbread man shape on a piece of card, cut it out and used it as a stencil on the dough. It worked perfectly and I didn’t need to buy any more tools that would end up clogging the cupboards for the rest of the year!
Makes 40-50 biscuits
For the biscuit/cookie dough:
225g salted butter, softened
225g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tbsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp coffee powder dissolved in water
300g plain flour
90g cocoa powder
For the decoration:
300g icing sugar
1. Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer until fluffy – about 5 minutes.
2. Add the egg and either vanilla or coffee and mix until combined.
3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together in another bowl. Add it to the creamed mixture and mix slowly until combined. Be careful not to over mix.
4. Gather your dough in to a ball and wrap in cling film. Chill in the fridge for about an hour.
5. Once chilled, the dough should be firmer but still soft enough to roll easily (and poke). See the picture below for texture.
6. Heat the oven to 180FAN. You’ll need a few baking trays to get this done. You can, of course use just one but it’ll take a lot longer.Roll the dough on a floured surface to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut your desired shapes and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
*If you want to hang these on the tree, don’t forget to add a little hole to the biscuits before baking with a skewer or straw*
7. Once you’ve filled one baking tray with cookies, pop it in the freezer and cut some more. After 15 mins in the freezer, the biscuits are ready to bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes depending on how crunchy you want them. Once baked, remove from the oven and let them cool for 5 mins on the baking tray before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. Continue with your batches until you’ve chilled and baked all the biscuits. I must have done at least 4 batches!
(To summarise that rather lengthy explanation it goes a little something like, cut-freeze-bake-repeat.)
To decorate, make the icing by sifting icing sugar in to a large bowl. Add water by the tablespoon until you get a firm, pipe-able icing. Think, toothpaste consistency. Add the icing to a piping bag with a small round writing nozzle and off you go!
To hang on the tree, just add a small ribbon and let your house inhale the aroma of freshly baked chocolate cookies.
If you need some alternative decorating ideas, try dipping in melted chocolate and sprinkles, or sandwiching two cookies with cookie butter and drizzling in melted chocolate! (Erm hello homemade oreos but better.)
Happy holidays to all who celebrate and if you still need some last minute present inspiration, don’t forget to browse www.dotcomgiftshop.co.uk! Thanks to the team for sending me a lovely recipe card tin (I couldn’t get any pictures to show you guys how cute it is because it’s still in Lancaster – I left it up there in the panic!)
To all those not celebrating, enjoy your time off with friends and family! x