It’s Christmas Eve everyone — and while for some of you that might fill you with dread – fear not. If all of your Christmas shopping isn’t done, you can’t face the shops, and/or your online orders haven’t come in time…there is another option! This year I have done more baking than ever, and have already whipped up a few edible gifts for my nearest and dearest, which always go down a treat. There’s still time to pop these simple (I promise) recipes in the oven, and deliver something handmade and fabulous this year. If you’re all smug, wrapped and have your presents sorted, then you can indulge in doing these yourself – just for the fun of it, if that’s your thing (it’s definitely mine).
First we go to biscuits, and my favourite recipe is the Biscuiteers one available here. I take no credit for this wonderful recipe, which is tried, tested and faultless. One thing I do like to add to the recipe myself however is ground cinnamon and ground ginger – a teaspoonful of each to the mixture, but it’s completely up to you if you want to try something different, I’m planning on making a batch with cardamom today myself!
Obviously you’ll be working with the cutters you have, but don’t forget you can get super creative with a sharp knife in the dough too, and make your own desired shapes. To make these dala horse shapes, I got resourceful and cut with a knife around a mini cake tin from Ikea, but have since ordered a proper dala horse cutter from Ebay. Once the biscuits are baked and cooled, the real fun begins. I learned how to ice at the Biscuiteers icing cafe (you can book here if you’re interested in future — and this is also a great last-minute gift idea!!!), but it is simple in essence. Dependant on how many colours you want to use, you need to make two batches of each icing colour, one runny and one more stiff. Again, you can use Biscuiteers’ recipes for icing here, or I just use the instructions on the back of the Royal Icing box (revolutionary!!!). I will say that I always buy plenty spare for any mishaps though! For colouring- if you’re at the supermarket- gel colour is better than liquid food colouring, however if you’re ordering in future, Sugarflair coloured paste is best!
For the dala horse biscuits pictured here, I used green, red and white line icing, and red and white flooding icing. The line icing goes all the way around the shape you’re icing, so that you can then ‘flood’ the desired area with the colour of your choice without leaks. Once this ‘flooding’ has dried, you can even then go back over it with the line icing to finish off your biscuits. Piping bags can be bought from most supermarkets– my favourite ones so far are the Waitrose own brand ones, but any will do. My BFF gave me the top tip of filling the piping bags by popping them into a tall drinking glass, and folding them over, to make it easy to then tie the tops, without making mess. For the flooding icing you’ll need a squeezy bottle, I ordered some ‘crafting bottles’ from Ebay, but again you can find them in some supermarkets!
While I sometimes pre-design what I want my biscuits to look like, I do like to freestyle and play around with them too – hence the many different designs on my pictured dala horse biscuits! You’re free to do whatever you like, and what you think the recipient of your gift will like best! To add the finishing touch, popping the biscuits into a tin or decorative box, labelled with a flourish can give them extra punch. I picked up bells, twine and boxes from TK Maxx and Paperchase to give all my gifts a personal edge. If you have card, paper or some cushioning to separate the biscuits in the box – that can also increase their longevity — and there you go!
Finally, my second bake idea is Chocolate and Hazelnut Biscotti – a recipe from Megan Isobel of Lipso Facto (here). I read this recipe on Meg’s blog years ago, and come back to it every December without fail. Packaged up in cellophane, again with a flourish, these biscotti go down so well as gifts, and are the perfect accompaniment to a wintery cup of coffee. Sticky labels and cellophane bags can easily be bought on Ebay, but again you may be lucky in the supermarket – or you can get creative with what you have at home. If you or someone in your house is a chocolate fiend- empty Ferrero Rocher boxes can be super handy for this too! It’s worth keeping interesting packaging that you can wash and re-use just for moments like this.
I have loved making up all of these handmade gifts and sharing them out to my loved ones. It’s such a fun activity to do with your children/siblings/parents/friends/other halves, just pop on some Christmassy music and get super creative! I hope you liked these little recipe suggestions for this Christmas (and all year round really!), and I hope you all have fantastic Christmases and New Years! Until next time…