Well I don’t know about you but I am full of the festive cheer this week. We picked up our tree on Saturday and spent yesterday making the house feel all Christmassy so now I’m writing this surrounded by twinkling lights and candles and candy canes and I just can’t wait for it to be holiday time already.
For my latest ‘Tis the Season feature I thought I’d share a simple recipe for some festive iced cookie decorations with you, the results of which are now adorning the branches of our spruce (well half are, the other half were scoffed while decorating said spruce). I think because we’re having Christmas at home this year, I’ve felt totally justified in indulging my inner creative and going overboard with lots of baking and making – and these cookies were one of the most fun and rewarding tasks. I can’t help but smile when I see my handmade creations smiling back at me from the tree. I reckon baking my own tree decorations might just become an annual tradition, and it would be such a great activity to do with kids too.
The cookie recipe itself is as simple as it comes because I wanted to concentrate on the icing decoration but of course, you can switch it up in any way that suits you – from gingerbread to cinnamon or nutmeg flavours. In the past I’ve always found icing cookies to be a very frustrating business, and usually one which results in some pretty terrible monstrosities at the end of it, but now I’ve discovered ready to roll icing and I’m feeling pretty smug about the whole thing so if you are planning to give these a go, save yourself the drama and pick up some coloured royal icing and a pack of writing icing too (I used Dr. Oetker products which I’ve detailed below).
These cookies were also my first for a new baking platform I’ve joined – We Bake. It’s a type of baking social media which allows you to create your own foodie profile and then share recipes, tips and advice with others. It’s the community which rewards you for baking! Now you all know I’m a massive fan of any sort of baking community. I’m a member of a few baking related platforms, and as most of you probably know, I also set up my own baking club at the beginning of this year (which you can join right here, we’re baking festive treats this month so its easy to get involved) – I actually truly believe that food is one of the few things which can bring almost everyone together, and personally I find sharing a love of cake and baking with others a great way to get to know new people and have fun at the same time. As I use my blog social media pages for all aspects of my lifestyle and not just baking, We Bake is the perfect alternative for me as I can use it solely to share my baking endeavours and get inspired by others doing the same.
So, onto the recipe…
What you’ll Need
The Cookie Dough (makes around 20-30 biscuits depending on size)
I made a plain cookie but feel free to add any spices or flavours you like to mix it up
100g caster sugar
200g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla essence
A selection of cookie cutters – I used a mixture of gingerbread men, circles, trees, bells and stars
These are the products I specifically used but of course you could make your own icing and pipe from a nozzle or use any royal icing.
Dr Oetker Regal Ice ready to roll coloured royal icing
Dr Oetker writing icing tubes
Dr Oetker designer icing
A selection of sprinkles, chocolate chips and chocolate balls
How it’s done
The Cookie Dough
Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy
Whisk your egg and add to the sugared mixture a little at a time along with the vanilla essence until combined
Slowly add your flour to the mix in stages until it starts to form a dough (add a little more egg or water if too dry)
Knead together and then wrap and chill in the fridge for an hour or so
Once chilled, break into small sections and roll out on a floured surface (make sure you don’t roll the cookies too thin as they’ll go brittle when baked – keep them fairly thick)
Using your cookie cutters cut a selection of shapes and place on a baking tray with a sheet of greaseproof paper (If you’re making these for the tree don’t forget to make a hole at the top of each – I used a straw to punch out a circle)
Repeat with all of your dough and re- roll your off cuts if you need to until you have enough cookies
Place in a pre-heated oven on the middle shelf and bake for approx 10-15 mins at around 200C/ Gas Mark 5 (don’t wait for them to brown as this is the point they might go brittle, remove them when ever so slightly browned and still a little soft)
Leave to cool completely before beginning to ice
I created a few different designs of tree cookie based on my shapes so here’s how I did each one…
The Snowmen (using your round shaped cookies)
Cover the whole cookie with soft white icing (you could roll out white royal icing, but I preferred the rustic look for the snow so used a knife to spread on plain icing)
Using the blue royal icing, knead slightly and then roll out flat before cutting out circles slightly smaller than your cookie shape. Cut these circles in half and stick to the top of your snowman to create a hat
Decorate the hats as you wish using hundreds and thousands and writing icing/piping a design. To add sprinkles to a section, simply wet the royal icing in the area you want the decoration to go, sprinkle on and then tip and they should only stick to the area which was wet.
I used chocolate chips for the noses (with a dollop of yellow on top) and chocolate balls for the eyes and mouth
The Christmas Trees
Roll out your green royal icing and cut out tree shapes
Dab a little warm water onto the cookies before placing the icing tree on top and pressing down slightly
Decorate by piping on icing dollops in varying colours to mimic baubles, and tinsel. Use sprinkles for added sparkle
The Gingerbread Men
Roll out red and green royal icing and cut into the shape of shorts (or skirts – whatever you prefer)
Dab a little warm water onto the cookies where you want the shorts to go and place the icing on top, pressing it down to secure
Decorate using writing icing to create bowties, hair and gloves
Use chocolate balls for buttons and eyes
The Stars and Bells
Do a mixure of royal icing (rolled out and cut into desired shape to place) and normal icing in varying colours to create a variety of different designs.
Decorate using writing icing (my favourite was piping a snowflake design) and add sprinkles and balls to finish
Finally leave the icing to set and then string ribbon through the holes at the top ready for the cookies to be added to the tree!
I told you the recipe itself was easy, you just need a little patience and a steady hand for the decor. It can take a bit of time (especially at the beginning when you’re still figuring the techniques out) so block out a morning, put some christmas music on and just potter away.
These are just my version of decorations but of course, once the cookies are baked you can really ice and decorate them in any way you wish!
In the run up to Christmas, We Bake has launched a challenge to find the community’s best bauble bakers (with 50 winners getting to see their decorations adorn the Christmas tree at London’s Westfield shopping centre) and so if you do give these a go, why not sign up to We Bake and enter them into the bauble competition?
Remember if you bake any of my recipes, tag #BakewithBB on social so I can see them, and of course look out for more bakes from the #BBbakingClub this month!
*This post was in collaboration with We Bake and Dr Oetker but it’s a platform I’m really excited to be a part of so I was happy to share – recipe, words and photos my own*