Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas Biscuits

It's starting to feel a bit more festive around here now. We haven't put the tree up yet as even when I lived at home it would always go up later in the month. It's my parents anniversary and my little brother's birthday the week before Christmas so we would usually wait until after those events before getting started on the Christmas decorations. So our tree will be going up around the 21st/22nd December and stay up until Twelfth night. We did pick up a mini pre-decorated tree in the supermarket last week though just to bring a little bit of the Christmas magic in. And as I've started to feel just a little bit festive I thought it was time to make some Christmassy biscuits.


I recently received a selection of products from Sugar and Crumbs to review and I have used them here to create the decorations for these biscuits. I used white sugar paste as the base for all the decorations along with some red paste and some holly green paste. I also received some dessicated coconut which you can see on the base of the snowman biscuit. The yellow, blue and black decorations were made using other packets of sugar paste I already had in my cupboard. I also bought the silver sprinkles from Lakeland to add a bit of bling to some of the biscuits.

I have to say that the best thing about these packets of sugar paste is that they are resealable which in my eyes is a huge bonus. As you may have noticed from reading this blog I don't do a massive amount of decorating with sugar paste and so I always have to try and make sure I wrap up leftover paste carefully so it doesn't dry out. It turns out that when I came to use the blue paste which was leftover from my boyfriends birthday cake, the clingfilm had come loose around it and it had gone a bit dry. I didn't use all of the paste I received from Sugar and Crumbs, I'm saving some of it to decorate my Christmas cake with and it's good to know that it will still be soft and easy to work with in a couple of weeks time.

On to the biscuits, I went for a simple shortbread recipe here as it's quick and easy to make which leaves you with more time to spend on making the decorations. I used some homemade vanilla sugar to make vanilla flavoured biscuits but you could use ordinary caster sugar instead and add a few drops of vanilla extract. Incidentally if you want to make your own vanilla sugar it's very easy, simply get a clean jar, big enough to hold around 500g of sugar so you have a good stash of it, fill it with caster sugar, split a vanilla pod and push it down into the sugar, leave it for a couple of weeks for the flavour to infuse and there you have it.  You can then use the vanilla sugar in place of normal caster sugar if you want a hint of vanilla in your bakes.



Ingredients - makes 25 biscuits using a 7cm cutter

For the biscuits:
300g plain flour
200g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
100g vanilla caster sugar

For the decorations:
500g white sugar paste
at least 50g each of holly green and red sugar pastes
other colours if you fancy, I used black, blue and yellow, I coloured my own blue and yellow but I've found it's better to buy black if you can
dessicated coconut
silver sprinkles

Preheat the oven to 180C. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and bltiz on full power until it just starts coming together. Remove from the processor bowl and bring the rest of the dough together by hand and knead a little to get a smooth ball. Roll out to about 1cm thick and use a straight edged 7cm cutter to cut out the biscuits. This dough is quite short so it does have a tendency to crumble so take care when handling the dough. Bake on a non stick baking tray for 10 minutes until the biscuits are just golden. Carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool, I do mean carefully as I managed to break a couple when I was doing these, they were my bakers treats! Whilst the biscuits are cooling it's time to get started on the decorations. You can decorate these however you want but I will share my ideas to give some inspiration.



Roll out the white sugar paste to about 5mm thick and then use a fluted 6cm cutter to cut rounds out, these will form the base of your decorations. Use your finger or a small paintbrush to brush a little water on the underside of each round and press down on top of the cooled biscuits.

For the holly leaves I used plunger cutters in two different sizes which I also bought from Lakeland but you can probably get them in most cake decorating shops this time of year. Roll out the holly green sugar paste so it is quite thin and use the cutters to cut out as many as you want. Place the cut out leaves on a plate lightly dusted with icing sugar so they can  firm up a bit before placing on the biscuits. To make the holly berries I used tiny pieces of the red paste and rolled them into balls. When you're ready to decorate just put a tiny dab of water of the back of each leaf and stick into position then do the same with the berries. For the silver sprinkles I just lightly pushed these into the white paste so they didn't fall off.



For the Christmas tree use the holly green paste again and cut out a tree shape using small, sharp knife or a cutting tool if you have one. Sugar and Crumbs very kindly sent me a set of modelling tools which were very helpful in making these decorations, especially the mini palette knife for picking up the holly leaves without squishing them. I was brave and cut the tree out freehand but if you can find a tree shaped cutter you could use that instead. As with the holly leaves let it dry out for a bit before using a tiny bit of water to stick it to the biscuit. Roll out thin pieces of red paste to decorate the tree and add a little bit of yellow paste to the top to make a star, use a sharp knife to gently drag it into a star shape, or if you have a very small star cutter that would be even easier. Press on a few silver sprinkles to look like fairy lights.


The next two designs are very easy, a yellow star and a candy cane. Use smallish sized star shaped cutter to make the star from a piece of yellow paste and decorate with sprinkles in each point. For the candy cane take equal sized pieces of red and white paste and roll into long thin sausages and then twist them together like a rope. Shape into a cane and trim the ends before sticking on top of the biscuits.

 

The next two designs are a bit more fiddly but not difficult to make, trust me if I can do it anyone can. For the snowman create a snowy base by lightly brushing water over the white sugar paste base and sprinkle over dessicated coconut and press it on so that it sticks and shake off the excess. To make the snowman take 2 small pieces of white paste, one slightly bigger than the other and roll into balls. Put the smaller ball on top of the larger one and gently press together. Give the snowman a face with tiny pieces of black paste rolled into balls and a tiny piece of yellow paste pressed into a cone shape for the nose. The fiddly bit is getting these bits to stick to the face. Make some buttons for him using some more pieces of black paste. Gently press the snowman onto the biscuit base.


For the penguin take a small piece of black paste and shape it into a fat cone with a rounded point at the top, this will be the head. Take a small piece of white paste and shape it into a wide oval and press it onto the black piece, this is the penguins tummy. Take 2 smaller pieces of black paste and roll into fat sausages, press these onto the sides of the body and flatten slightly so they look like wings. For the beak use a tiny piece of yellow paste and shape it into pointed cone. For the eyes use two tiny pieces of white paste rolled into flattened balls and then add two even smaller pieces of black paste to create the pupils. Roll out a small piece of blue paste and stick it onto the base to create a water effect and sit the penguin on top.


Hopefully I've given you some ideas to get creative in the kitchen this Christmas. These designs could also be used to decorate cupcakes as well if you wanted to. Thank you to Sugar and Crumbs for inviting me to review some of their products, you can keep up to date with them on Facebook and Twitter as well as visiting their online store. Also thank you to Sous Chef for the fake snow which I used to decorate the cake board with. I have another post using more of the dessicated coconut which will be coming up very soon.

Disclaimer: I was sent a selection of products to review from Sugar and Crumbs and I also received a free sample of fake snow from Sous Chef. All opinions and views expressed are my own.

I'm updating this post to link up with the Biscuit Barrel challenge where the theme is festive biscuits.




8 comments:

  1. adorable!... I love the one with the candy cane on it... lovely x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Dom, that ended up being my favourite as well.

      Delete
  2. I think they all look great. Well done you, decorating is not my strong point - I get too impatient.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not the most patient of people, hence the lack of lots of decorated cakes on here. These were all quite easy to do though.

      Delete
  3. Very festive and great blog. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. thanks for share..

    ReplyDelete
  5. These look so pretty. You are so talented.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Awww, I love these! Such good sugarcraft skills =) Thanks so much for sharing them with the Biscuit Barrel Challenge.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for reading, please feel free to comment on any of my posts. I love to hear what you think! :)