I had my niece over for the day at the weekend, and we had an excellent time making Nigella’s Edible Christmas Decorations. That link is an updated version I think, I was using the recipe in How to Be a Domestic Goddess which contains many of my most favourite recipes.
Anyway these are SO EASY and fun and tasty and look lovely, and are an excellent activity for younger and older kids. I changed to cup measurements, because although I have electronic measuring scales I swear literally everytime I use them the battery has run out, and we have the smallest kitchen in the history of time so all in all cups are a lot handier. Plus I have matryoshka cups which are incredibly cool. We also made a couple of small changes to the ingredients: we didn’t put in much pepper – just a couple of twists of the pepper mill, we used soft brown sugar instead of muscovado, and used salted butter but didn’t add any more salt. So our ingredients looked something like this:
- a generous 2 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
- couple of twists of black pepper
- 100 g butter
- a generous 1/2 cup soft brown sugar
- 2 eggs (although you might need 3 in case one decides to roll off the table when you’re not looking)
- 4 tablespoons runny honey
Now, although Nigella clearly says to chuck everything in except the eggs and honey, and although I spent years giving cooking sessions to groups where I would go on and on about how important it is to read through a recipe, I accidentally chucked everything into my ancient food processor at the same time. And it’s possible that the mix was quite squidgy as a result. Ahem. However, niece and I had a great time kneading a bit more flour into it before chilling it in the fridge. We then halved the mix, had a rolling pin each, rolled out to a bit thicker than a pound coin, then cut out our shapes (we had a star, a heart and a circle). We cut out little holes for the ribbon with a piping nozzle (I have lots, but I reckon you could use a chopstick or similar. You do want the hole to be a reasonable size though as it closes up a little). Then we baked at 170C for about 20 minutes, switching the trays around after 10. The whole flat instantly smelt like Christmas.
We watched half of Elf as the biscuits cooled, then got down to the icing. I had thought about making royal icing, and then realised I just couldn’t be bothered. So we mixed about 3 cups of icing sugar with about 3 tablespoons of just boiled water – it was a pretty thick mix that was drying a little as it sat in the bowl. I got two disposable icing bags and put medium nozzles in them, then filled with a couple spoons of icing. And we got busy! My rule with this sort of thing is that there are no rules, the first one is always going to be a trial run, and as long as they look tasty you’re doing it right. We both started just covering the whole biscuit then embellishing with silver balls, gold balls, snowflakes, and gold confetti, then got a lot more creative with borders and wiggly lines and crosswork. Niece had the excellent idea of making the round ones look like Christmas puddings, so we dug out some green and red fondant icing and made little holly leaves to go on them.
We then watched the second half of Elf and ate a lot of cheese and crackers and most definitely didn’t cry while the icing set a little, and then cut lengths of silver gift ribbon and began threading it through and knotting. And voila! We each had about 16 beautiful tree decorations. A most excellent way to spend an afternoon, and niece had something lovely to take home with her that the whole family can enjoy. Thanks Nigella!