Decorated with royal icing and made using Christmas spices, these delicious iced nutcracker Christmas biscuits will make charming additions to your festive table read more
For the 7th bake of Christmas Laura Ashley gave to me… 7 Iced Nutcracker Christmas Biscuits.
Over the next month we’ll be bringing you a variety of festive bakes every week as part of our 12 Bakes of Christmas blog series. So keep your eyes peeled on the Laura Ashley Blog for plenty of scrumptious Christmas eats.
There is a reason that Santas favourite Christmas treat is cookies and milk. This Christmas, why not go the extra mile for the man in red by presenting him with some delicious gingerbread cookies decorated in a traditional festive design. Inspired by our Nutcracker Christmas Range, Caro Davies of The Twinkle Diaries has created a festive recipe for some delicious iced nutcracker gingerbread cookies that are so good, they might not even make it to Santa on Christmas eve.
Are there any little rituals that you carry out each festive season? It might be that choosing the tree is your best-loved thing. Or bringing the boxes of decorations down from the attic; unwrapping each treasure until you reveal your favourite.
I’ve always loved all the trappings of Christmas but, since I had my little twins, it’s become even more special. One of the thing I’ve done for the last few years is bake gingerbread; the smell of cinnamon and spices, filling the air, is so evocative of the festive season. Each year it’s the same recipe — foolproof and much loved by everybody — but the decoration has been different each time.
A couple of years ago, I created edible star decorations; whilst last December, the gingerbread biscuits took the guise of our Laura Ashley robin snow-globe. This year I’ve been inspired by a seasonal favourite — the Nutcracker.
I remember the first time I ever watched the Nutcracker ballet (I was probably the same age that my boys are now). I was enchanted by the story and delighted with the little wooden nutcracker doll that I was given for Christmas that year.
Creating these nutcracker iced biscuits brought all those memories flooding back. It symbolises everything I love about the festive season. The ritual of baking with my children; creating something that’s not only a feast for the tastebuds — and the eyes — but also creating memories.The tradition and nostalgia of Christmas, encapsulated in one little biscuit.
How to make nutcracker iced Christmas biscuits
Ingredients (for the gingerbread)
– 200g plain flour
– ½ teaspoon baking powder
– 50g dark muscovado sugar
– ½ teaspoon ground ginger
– 100g salted butter softened and diced
– ½ teaspoon cinnamon
– 50g black treacle
– ½ teaspoon mixed spice
– nutcracker/soldier shaped cookie cutter
1. Preheat the oven to 170C/150C fan/gas 3 before you begin making your biscuits or when ready to cook.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and all the spices into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and mix well. Add the butter. Using just the tips of your fingers, rub the ingredients together until they resemble fine breadcrumbs.
3. When all the butter is evenly mixed in, make a well in the centre and add the treacle.
4. Bring the mixture together to form a soft dough, combining lightly until it has an even colour with not too many streaks of treacle (I do this bit in the Kitchenaid to avoid handling it). Lightly form into a ball. Divide into two and squash it into two even-sized flattish discs.
5. Place one disc of dough on a sheet of baking parchment. Begin by gently squashing the dough down with the rolling pin or your hands, cover with a second sheet of parchment then use the rolling pin to roll properly. If the top sheet crinkles, just peel it off, smooth it down gently and start rolling again. Gently roll the dough until it is 5mm thick all over.
6. Transfer the sheet of rolled dough, still sandwiched between its parchment, to a baking tray and place in the fridge to chill for at least 20-30 minutes before cutting. Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.
7. Using your cutter, cut out the biscuits as close together as possible, lifting each one on to a parchment-covered baking tray and making sure that they are not too close together, as the dough will spread a little on baking.
8. Evenly space the trays in the oven and cook for 10-16 minutes, depending on your oven. Keep a close eye on the first couple of batches you cook until you get used to the recipes and your oven (mine cook in just 10 minutes in the top of the top oven of our AGA).
To decorate the biscuits, make up some royal icing. There are tons of recipes on the internet — all showing various quantities — but I make mine like this:
Royal Icing Ingredients
– 450g icing sugar
– 1 egg white
– 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
– Food colouring gels
1. Beat the egg white with an electric whisk or mixer until it goes frothy. Then add the lemon juice, followed by the sifted icing sugar spoon by spoon, on a high speed until you have the desired consistency.
2. I make my lining icing the consistency of toothpaste. The above icing recipe was perfect for this but you can add a little water to make sure you have the right consistency. Next add your food colouring to the icing and mix well.
3. Spoon the icing into a plastic piping bag and snip the end off. Not too much though — you want your lines to be thin.
4. Pipe a line around the edge of the biscuit first, then leave to dry for 10 minutes. To flood the background of the cookies, thin the icing down with a little water. This makes it much easier to work with, as it’s much looser — almost like the consistency of single cream.
5. You can use a toothpick to tease the icing into all of the corners.
6. Once the backgrounds are dry — it’s worth leaving them overnight (if you can wait that long!) — you can begin to add your details to the nutcracker biscuits. Use the same icing consistency that you used for the outlines.
7. Decorate your nutcracker dolls however you like. You can add beards or moustaches, shiny boots and buttons using the lining icing.
8. Then you can add sweets, sugar balls and edible glitter too.
I find it’s easier to work in colours; layering each one on to the biscuits, then letting them dry until I begin the next. It’s a satisfying process — not to be rushed. Even though, you may have an audience of little helpers who are keen to sample the goods before you’re finished!
If you do manage to fend them off, the gingerbread is relatively long lasting — even in the open air — which means the Christmas biscuits can be used as decorations (either on the tree or dotted around the house). They’re a great thing to keep a little stock of, for sweet-toothed Christmas visitors, plus these little nutcracker iced Christmas biscuits make such great Christmas stocking gifts.
But best of all, by making them, you’ll be filling your home with the aroma of gingerbread and creating wonderful festive memories for many years to come.
Do you like the design of these nutcracker Christmas biscuits? Let us know in the comments below.
To create the perfect festive table for your home, check out the dining ranges in our Christmas Shop.
Follow along with our 12 Bakes of Christmas series and share your creations on our social media channels with the hashtag #LauraAshleyChristmas.