I like these as spiced and peppery as German Lebkuchen and decorated only in white and silver or gold. I tend, also, to limit myself to bells, angels, and stars, but if you want to go bolder and brighter, you should. And if you want these to be milder and therefore more likely to please young children, use the smaller amount of pepper. But keeping them peppery is also a good way of keeping them hanging on the tree. . . .
Of all Christmas rituals up for adoption, making these is probably the most satisfying one.
Total Timeunder 2 hours
Make Ahead RecipeYes
Taste and Texturespiced
Type of Dishcookie, dessert
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon mixed ground spice
- 1-2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper
- Scant ½ cup unsalted butter
- Scant ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs beaten with
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons boiling water
- Gold or silver balls or sprinkles
- Set of Christmas cutters
- 2 baking sheets, lined with parchment or wax paper or nonstick
- Florists’ ribbon for hanging
Combine the flour, salt, baking powder, mixed spice, and pepper in the processor. With the motor on, add the butter and sugar, then, slowly, the eggs and honey, though don’t use all of this liquid if the pastry has come together before it’s used up. Form two discs and put one, covered in plastic wrap or in a freezer bag, into the refrigerator while you get started on the other. Preheat oven to 325°F.
Dust a surface with flour, roll out the disc, also floured, to about 15 inches and cut out your Christmas decorations. 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 piping tip and use the pointy end to cut out a hole just below the top of each cookie (through which ribbon can later be threaded to hang them).
Arrange on the 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 them to cool on a wire rack. Make up ordinary glace icing by mixing approximately 3 tablespoons of boiling water with the sifted confectioners’ sugar and stir till you’ve got a thin, glossy glaze. Ice the cold decorations using a teaspoon (the tip for dripping, the back for smoothing) and scatter sparkles or sprinkles as you like.
2001 Nigella Lawson