“Peace, joy & a time of noÃ«l – that’s what I’m wishing for this Christmas…” said I, my voice trailing off as I thought of all those who’d be lacking in one, if not all three, at this time of year.
“That’s not very helpful” replied Koji, just a little shortly.
He always gets more than a little flustered around this time of year as the frenzy of shopping and buying and wrapping and receipt saving commences.
“Well, perhaps some nice earrings then?” said I, in an attempt to mollify the Grinch.
“How about some coal?”Â
I’m just about done with my Christmas baking this year, which is something I’m pretty darn proud of actually. Especially considering I’m usually the girl stirring a batch of hot caramel come midnight on the 23rd.
Even better, I’ve handed a good deal of edible treats out, meaning my fridge and freezer will be well clear by the time I set about making dessert for our Christmas Eve feasts.
(Well, my parents’ fridge and freezer that is. The Bean & I have been living out of a bar fridge since August, mainly due to our reluctance to shell out for a larger size.)
These cookies (which are currently sitting in clear cellophane packages, waiting to be doled out to their intended recipients) were borne out of a suddenly free afternoon and the startling realisation that after making and eating a gingerbread cake, a festively flavoured batch of macaron and a treacley cheesecake, I was well and truly over the flavour of Christmas.
Also, I was tired.
Also, I needed a drink.
Oh, and I wanted some cookies. Good ones. With crunchy icing.
A trip to the pantry found me holding a jar of ground up coffee beans, a bottle of whiskey (gosh that stuff makes an appearance in a lot of my recipes), and a heck of a lot of butter.
I tapped away at my computer until I located the recipe of last year’s batch of no-melt-no-chill-no-spreading-in-the-oven cookies and set to work messing about with what was tried and true to make something that might be slightly less tried, but would certainly be just as tempting.
If not more so.
I’ll be using the cookie wreaths to decorate the table this year, now that the floral centrepieces of early December have been wilted and tossed compost-ways.
Two snow white(ish) plastic Christmas trees perched atop a cake stand should do it, aÂ selection of cookies propped atop their branches.
And the best bit about it all?
The centrepiece doubles as dessert.
(Or second dessert, as the case may be).
And if you just can’t be bothered making multi-piece, stacked cookie towers that are liable to be knocked off their perch and reduced to crumbly (albeit tasty) messes?
A colour theme and a small smattering of slightly fancied up cut-out cookies will do the trick (with some slightly less fancy, but just as tasty, smaller cookies to fill in the gaps on the branches, of course.)
(I couldn’t help but include these last two shots of my final set up. Not particularly Christmassy, but look! A ninjabread man vs gingerbread man war! Can you just imagine?)
irish coffee cut out cookies
you will need:
250g salted butter
2/3C brown sugar
1/4C caster sugar
1 tbsp whiskey
1tsp salt flakes
1tbsp ground coffee beans
2 3/4C plain flour
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 thatâ€™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 itâ€™s about 3mm thick. Cut out your cookies with cutters and place them on a tray lined with baking paper. They donâ€™t spread much, so youâ€™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 youâ€™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 wreaths / baubles) or until brown. Let the cookies cool for 10 minutes on the sheet before removing to a cooling rack as the cookies will crisp up a little on cooling.
royal icing recipe & cookie cutting techniques
I used this easy-as-pie meringue powder based royal icing recipe to make my cookies this year around, egg whites being a precious commodity at this time of year.
to make the wreaths:
1. Cut out a large fluted circle with a cookie cutter.
2. Using a smaller, circular cutter, cut out a circle in the middle, making sure the width of the cookie left is still at least 1.5cm. (It is easier to cut these cookies out directly onto the paper you’ll be baking on, so they don’t stretch when moved about).
3. Cut out the letters you would like to use and any additional decorations.
4. Bake as set out in the recipe above.
5. To decorate, tint some royal icing green and pipe blobs all around the outside of the wreath. Pipe a second row of blobs on the inside border of the wreath, nestling the blobs in the gaps left by the first row. Use white royal icing to pipe the outlines of the letters and the star (if using). When the green icing has started to form a slight crust, use more green icing to secure the letters to the wreath. Pipe little white spots of white royal icing on top of the green wreath for decoration.
to make the baubles:
1. Cut out a circle with a cookie cutter. Cut a star out from the centre of the circle.
2. Bake as set out in the recipe above.
3. To decorate, outline the circle and the star with write royal icing. Mix a little bit of royal icing with blue food colouring and enough water (a few drips will do) to make it runny enough to push around with a skewer and so it smooths out nicely if left alone. Once the white icing is dry, fill the gap between the two lines with blue icing. Immediately pipe white decorations on top of the blue icing with more white royal icing. Leave to set.