For the dough:
70g golden syrup
Juice of 1 orange
90g light muscovado sugar
1 tbsp ground ginger
½ tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
100g butter, diced
1 scant tsp bicarbonate of soda
240g plain flour
2 tbsp soft peak royal icing in a piping bag with a number 2 nozzle for the outline
2 tbsp stiff peak white royal icing with a PME 13-star nozzle or similar
Small star nozzle for the trim and bobbles (you can also use red and green if you want to add more variations)
3 x 150g flooding runny royal icing in white, Christmas red and party green in a plastic piping bag
1 cocktail stick
To make the dough, mix the golden syrup, orange juice, sugar and spices in a pan and heat, stirring regularly on a low to medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved and everything is melted and well amalgamated. Don’t boil this or it will make your cookies tough.
Add the butter and stir gently until it is fully incorporated.
Add the bicarbonate of soda and whisk into the hot mix until it is fluffy and paler in colour.
Tip the mix into your stand mixer bowl (unless you are doing this by hand) and when it has cooled slightly, add all the flour and beat on slow, or mix with a wooden spoon, until the mix comes together and resembles an oily dough.
Plop out on to 2 large pieces of clingfilm laid out in a cross formation and wrap up to seal the flat block of dough. Chill for at least 2 hours before rolling, or leave overnight in a fridge and roll out the next day. (This can be frozen now for up to a month. To defrost place in the fridge overnight then leave out at room temperature for 1 hour and knead the dough to make it pliable.)
To decorate, using the white soft peak icing, begin piping a line around the edge of each cookie shape—it’s best to start at the top and work towards yourself. Begin squeezing the bag at your starting point and lift the piping bag up and allow the icing to flow out slowly, letting gravity work and let the icing fall around the edge, just within the shape. Continue in one motion around each shape.
Once you get back to the starting point, bring your nozzle towards the cookie and push the royal icing on to the starting point. Stop squeezing and pull the nozzle away. You may notice that you get a pointy bit sticking up when you do this if you are new to piping. It’s not the end of the world, especially if you make your starting point b an area where you can pipe over with the furry icing trim, but if you want to neaten this off, use a small damp paintbrush to gently push down this little icing tail.
Once each shape is outlined, you can now begin ‘flooding’ the inside of the shape with your runnier icing. Be creative and use different colours for the base with other dots or lines for the detail. To make a polka dot one, just flood with one base colour, then using a different icing colour, work above the cookie and allow little blobs to drop into the background colour. Space them out as equally as you can.
For the stripy argyle-style ones, flood the whole background colour (eg green), then drop over horizontal lines with your red, then white to create stripes. With the cocktail stick, begin on one side of the cookie and sweep through in one motion, up and down in vertical lines through the cookie lines. This creates a marbled pattern effect, which looks really effective on this design. It’s really easy—just keep going until you get to the other side of the cookie.
Once you’ve finished all your main flooded patterned parts, you can pipe with stiff royal icing along the base of the hats and mittens to create the sugary fur trim and top the hats off with their bobbles. By using stiff royal icing, it will create a ruffle effect when piped through a small star shaped nozzle.
Begin on one side of the mitten or cookie along the base, and using a firm steady pressure, keeping the nozzle close to the cookie, pipe a slightly wavy lie to fill up the bottom of the cookie to create the finished fur effect. For the bobbles, pipe close into the cookie with a firm pressure to create a pompom effect, squeeze the icing in one spot until the bobble is the size you want, then stop squeezing and pull the piping bag away from the cookie. Leave these to dry overnight and then wrap or serve as required.
Recipe: Juliet Sear