MAKES: 35 – 40 biscuits
FOR THE BISCUITS
300 grams plain flour (plus more for dusting)
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
100 grams soft butter
100 grams soft dark brown sugar
2 large eggs (beaten)
4 tablespoons runny honey
FOR THE ICING AND TRIMMINGS
300 grams instant royal icing (from packet)
edible glitter or gold or silver balls
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment and preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3/350ºF.
- Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and pepper in a food processor and, with the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the beaten eggs and runny honey, though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up.
- Form 2 fat discs and put one, covered in clingfilm or in a freezer bag, in the fridge while you get started on the other.
- Then dust a work surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about 5mm / ¼ inch and cut out your Christmas decorations with cutters of your choice, which could include fir-tree shapes, angels, stars, snowflakes, and so on.
- Re-roll and cut out some more, setting aside the residue from this first disc, well covered, while you get on with rolling out the second. When you’ve got both sets of leftover clumps of dough, roll out and cut out again, and keep doing so till all the dough’s used up.
- Now take a small icing nozzle and use the pointy end to cut out a hole just below the top of each biscuit (through which ribbon can later be threaded).
- Arrange the pastry shapes on the lined baking sheets and cook for about 20 minutes: it’s hard to see when they’re cooked, but you can feel; if the underside is no longer doughy, they’re ready. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
- Make up the instant royal icing, beating it until it’s thick enough to be able to cover the biscuits with a just-dripping blanket of white; but don’t beat it for as long as the packet says or you’ll have icing so thick it will need to be spread with a spatula and you won’t get such a neat outline.
- Carefully ice the cold decorations, using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing), and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like. When the icing is set, thread ribbon through the holes and hang on your tree.
MAKE AHEAD TIP: Make the biscuits up to 1 week ahead and store in an airtight container. Ice the biscuits the day before needed to allow them plenty of time to set.
FREEZE AHEAD TIP: The raw cookie dough can be made and frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw in the fridge overnight. The cooked biscuits can be made and frozen in sealable bags for up to 6 months.