Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekend baking: Christmas cookies (but of course)

Cookies are one of those great foods that can be tweaked to suit any occassion. And what can be more perfect for the Christmas season than cookies that can be hung on the tree? These cookies come from Nigella Lawson's fantastic baking book, How to Be a Domestic Goddess. I use her Butter Cut-Out Biscuits recipe as (like she says) they really do hold their shape and taste good. Anything of the shortbread variety is just too crumbly I find.
175g soft unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 tspn vanilla extract
400g plain flour (organic really does a make a difference)
1 tspn baking powder

1 tspn salt
Cream the butter and sugar in your mix-master until pale and mousy then beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt, add to mix-master and mix gently. The mixture should be a sticky dough that can be handled. Form into two fat discs, wrap in clingwrap and refrigerate for at least an hour. One of the batches can be frozen for later use (when the tree needs refilling).
Place one of the discs on a floured surface, sprinkle the top with a good bit of flour and roll out to about 1/2 cm thick. Use assorted Christmas themed cookie cutters to cut out shapes. We got 30 shapes out of our batch. Make a hole in the top centre of each shape with a chopstick or skewer and place on a baking tray lined wi
th greaseproof.

Bake for 8-10 mins or until lightly golden around the edges. Transfer to a wire rack and once cool ice however you like (if your hole has closed up during cooking redo it while the cookies are still warm). This year we went for plain white icing (150g icing sugar and a couple of teaspoons of near boiling water mixed to form a smooth paste) and little silver balls for a bit of Christmas bling. To string cookies you can use any type of ribbon. To go with the traditional Christmas decoration look we used silver Japan thread (from Spotlight). Let the kids decorate the tree and voila a Christmas decoration and snack in one.


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