There’s nothing new or revolutionary about these, in fact I definitely baked these as a child with my Nana, but sometimes the old ideas are the most magical. Whoever thought up this idea originally, I take my (Santa) hat off to you. Simple and pretty is my mantra when choosing recipes to bake and these cookies are just that.
All you need is a batch of your favourite festive spiced sugar cookie dough (or use the recipe below), a variety of cookie cutters and some boiled sweets.
I want to say these are ideal for baking with children, but I don’t want to put any adults off, as my Mum and her 23 year old daughter (me!) enjoyed making them! They’re brilliant for hanging on the Christmas tree or even taking as a Christmas party contribution. I will also be making these with the girls at the Guide unit I help to run, as our Christmas bake.
[Makes approx. 15-20 biscuits]
100 g sunflower spread (or butter if you prefer)
180 g plain flour
50 g caster sugar
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
About 9 boiled sweets
Step 1. Rub the sunflower spread into the flour.
Step 2. Stir in the sugar, ground ginger and cinnamon.
Step 3. Add a tablespoon of milk and try to bring the dough into a ball with your hands. If it’s too dry add a little more milk but be careful you don’t add too much.
Step 4. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. You don’t want it too thin; a thickness of about 3 mm is ideal.
Step 5. Cut out assorted large shapes. Then take smaller cutters and cut a small shapes out of the centre of your large shapes. You can be creative here but make sure you leave enough biscuit between the cut out shapes that it will keep its structure.
Step 6. Using a skewer, make a reasonably small hole in the top of the biscuit so you can thread through string when baked. (If any holes close up during baking, you may be able to remake them as soon as you remove the biscuits from the oven.)
Step 7. Lift the biscuits carefully onto a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Step 8. Place broken sweets in the centre holes of the biscuits. You will need between 1/4 and 1/2 of a sweet in each hole*.
Step 9. Bake in the middle of the oven on Gas Mark 4 for approximately 15 minutes.
Step 10. Leave to cool for at least a few minutes on the baking paper, as the sweets need to set hard again. After this, you should be able to peel the biscuits carefully off the paper.
*The one thing to note is that you need a surprisingly large amount of boiled sweets in the middle. I based my recipe off Jamie Oliver’s, which had the warning don’t add too much smashed sweet or they will overflow. So maybe I was over cautious, but I ended up not putting in enough to melt and fill the hole, which led to me adding more sweets half way through baking (which FYI works just fine if you do underestimate). I found you needed approximately 1/2 a boiled sweet to fill a larger middle shape (but obviously this depends on the size of your boiled sweets and the size of your cookie cutters!)