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christmas cutout cookies

November 28, 2011

It’s not even December yet and here I am busting out the Christmas baking.

If it helps at all, I haven’t so much as started my Christmas shopping and (horror!) have absolutely no idea what dessert I’ll be bringing to my annual high-school-reunion-over-“Christmas”-lunch that’s planned for this Saturday.

Though I suppose, if worse comes to worst, I can just feed them cookies…

It’s a bit Martha Stewart of me I suppose, but over the years I’ve strayed away from the shops come Christmas-time and have instead made it a habit of mine to make batches and batches each year to give out as presents to those I hold near and dear.

Fiddly annoying messy cookies.

Simple as anything cookies.

Delicious yet somewhat visually unappealing cookies.

So if all goes to plan there’ll be plenty of cookies around this here blog in the coming weeks. Starting with these, my very favourite sugar & spice cutout cookies.

But the best thing about these cookies is that (unlike so many others that have me screaming and stomping and flinging bits of melted dough all over my kitchen) is that they’re 100% temper tantrum free.

They roll without sticking. They don’t need chilling. Which means that you can pop home from work and into the shower so that when your long-time-rant-and-rave buddy rocks up to ask about mortgages and business loans you’re only half as grumpy as you were half an hour earlier.

They’re a one bowl recipe and take no more than 20 minutes from start to oven (unless you agonise about the shapes, and in which case, I take no responsibility for the amount of time taken). Which means you’ll have ample time to throw your hands in the air in exasperation at flagrant indignities without worrying about whether you’ll be done baking and cleaning in time for your 10:30pm curfew.

(Yes, this girl sleeps early. Well, as early as possible.)

But the best thing of all is that, even with the one-bowl, no chilling, easy rolling that happens when making this cookie, they hardly spread at all in the oven.

So if you want to make a sky full of stars, you can do it without any trouble at all.

And if you want to mix them up with a forest of Christmas trees, a couple of angels, some gingerbread men, candy canes, baubles and a fat-man with a sack, you won’t be squinting at the finished product and trying to tell which was what.

(Actually, I lied. The very best thing of all is pulling them out of the oven and coming face to face with a whiff of salty, spicy baked good smell – so heartening that the aforementioned indignities fade away into near nothingness).

Come the weekend, I gathered what cookies were left and made up a double batch of royal icing (I had far too much and have given you a single batch quantity below).

The Bean and I sat and piped. We dyed the icing lurid shades of blue and yellow and the palest of pinks.

I neatly traced the outline of each biscuit before flooding them with coloured puddles.

The Bean drew skeletons and question marks. She turned bells into birdcages and drew leopard spots on candy canes.

And then, when the icing had dried and the leftover silver cashous crunched between our teeth, we sat and drew.

A cookie covered tablecloth. Brown-paper-cloth more like. As a centrepiece for that evening’s meal.

We coloured and outlined and made the silvery blue stars shoot across the page.

(We made it a square for photography purposes, but I think a long strip of brown paper across the middle of a table would make a stunning cookie-adorned runner come Christmas lunch, don’t you?)

brown sugar & spice cutout cookies

you will need:

250g salted butter
2/3C brown sugar
1/4C caster sugar
1 egg
1tsp salt flakes
1tsp vanilla essence
2 1/4C plain flour
1/2tsp powdered ginger
1/2tsp mixed spice

how to do it:

1. Cube the butter and let it sit until it is room temperature. Combine the butter and both sugars in a mixer and beat it until all the sugar is incorporated into the butter. The butter will begin to look creamy and smooth.

2. Add the egg and beat again. It may start to look curdled, but that’s ok.

3. Add the remaining ingredients and mix at a low speed until it comes together into a smooth dough.

4. Split the dough into two portions. Lay a piece of baking paper on your kitchen counter and roll one portion of the dough out until it’s about 3mm thick. Cut out your cookies with cutters and place them on a tray lined with baking paper. They don’t spread much, so you’ll only need to leave 2cm between each cookie. Roll the scraps up into a ball and pop them in the fridge.

5. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

6. Pull the scraps out of the fridge and keep rolling and cutting until you’ve used up all of your dough.

7. Bake the cookies in a 160C (fan forced) oven for 10 minutes (for little stars) or 15 minutes (for christmas trees / 10cm circle cookies) or until brown. The cookies will crisp up a little on cooling.

royal icing

you will need:

1 egg white
1 1/2 C icing sugar
1/4 tsp citric acid

how to do it:

1. Beat the egg white until it is able to hold a peak.

2. Add the sifted icing sugar & citric acid and beat until it is thoroughly combined. You should not be able to feel any graininess if you pinch a bit of the mix and rub it together between your fingers.

3. Put some of the icing in a piping bag, covering the remaining icing with a damp tea towel or a sheet of cling wrap so it doesn’t start to harden.

4. To decorate, you can either pipe patterns directly on the cookies or add some food colouring and water to batches of the icing to make a gloopy mix for dipping the cookies into.


  • #1
    November 28th, 2011

    Those cookies look amazing! I’ve been planning to start my Christmas baking but haven’t gotten round to it yet… Next weekend maybe!

  • #2
    sean
    November 28th, 2011

    hey that drawing looks fun!

  • #3
    November 29th, 2011

    wow…sounds scrumptiously tasty..
    first time here..
    love your space…excellent recipe collection with great presentation..
    Am your happy follower now..;)
    do stop by mine sometime..
    Tasty Appetite

  • #4
    November 29th, 2011

    Hehe skeleton gingerbread man. Cookies look gorgeous, I love the blue and white Christmas ball ones, very pretty.

  • #5
    December 1st, 2011

    I love how you really went out and had fun with your finished product. Really cool… Would love to try this out but unfortunately I only have one and only one cookie cutter in my kitchen so will have to just go with that haha! =D

  • #6
    December 1st, 2011

    Dear Shez,

    For someone who has never made a cookie before, this is pretty impressive and I love the christmas tree shape best 🙂

  • #7
    December 5th, 2011

    Loving those cookies! They look awesome.

  • #8
    December 7th, 2011

    Those blue cookies are the prettiest things ever! So gorgeous!

  • #9
    December 11th, 2011

    And I can totally see how a bell could become a birdcage!

Shez