Christmas shaped gingerbread biscuits

The combination of aromatic sweet spices and decorative red and green icing make these gingerbread biscuits fabulously festive. I like to serve these biscuits at Christmas parties and they’re easy to make ahead as stored in an airtight container they will keep for a week.

Preheat the oven to 180’c/325f/gas3.

Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

Place the butter and both sugars in a bowl and cream together using a wooden spoon (or the paddle attachment of a stand mixer) until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add the egg and black treacle and continue to mix until combined. Sift in the rest of the ingredients and stir together to form a dough.

Dust your work surface with flour, then knead the dough for a few seconds until it comes together. Roll the dough out on your work surface, dusting with flour as necessary, to a thickness of about ½ cm.

Next cut the dough in to whichever Christmas shapes you’d like. You could do Christmas trees, stars, snowmen or even round baubles. If you don’t have special shaped cookie cutters, you can trace any shape you’d like on to paper, then cut out the paper and use it as stencil, using a knife to cut out the shape from the dough.

Transfer the biscuits onto the baking trays and cook in the oven for about 12 -15 minutes, until they are slightly firm, a little darker at the edges and slightly drier on top. Remove from the oven, and if you’d like you can use a skewer to make holes in biscuits so they can be hung from the Christmas tree as decorations. You need to make the holes while they’re still warm from the oven.

Allow the shapes to firm up for a few minutes, then place them on a wire rack to cool. When they have cooled, they can be iced, if you wish, though they’d still be delicious left plain.

To ice them you’ll need three icings, one green, one red and one white. Divide your icing sugar equally in to three bowls. In to one of the bowls, add a few drops of green food colouring and to another add a few drops of red. Add just enough water to each (and to the plain icing sugar) to make an icing the consistency of thick double cream.

Use one colour of icing to fill the piping bag or freezer bag and carefully pipe stripes, swirls or dots of different colours on to the biscuits. Then wash the piping or freezer bag and repeat with another colour, then again for the third.

If you’d rather not use a piping bag, you could use a teaspoon instead. Place the bowl of icing close to the cake and dip your spoon into it, then lift the spoon out and let some icing drip off. Hold the spoon close to the biscuits as you carefully drizzle on stripes, zigzags or swirls.

If you’d like you can tie ribbon or thread through the holes in the biscuits for hanging.