Saturday, 22 November 2014

Vanilla & Mixed Spice Christmas Biscuits



Along with the theme of homemade gifts, here is a biscuit recipe that I have made for Christmas presents this year. I am planning on wrapping these in cellophane bags like the clay decorations (I made sure I bought food grade bags) but I'll be doing that much closer to Christmas.

We made these a few years ago and I put them in Kilner Jars with some nice ribbon and tags, we also kept them as vanilla biscuits but iced them. This is a really versatile recipe, and I have adapted it today to give them a Christmas flavour. They are more a shortbread than a cookie biscuit, but they freeze well so I make them in advance and get out in December - no rushing around in December for us! I love being able to enjoy December - my Christmas cards are always posted out on the 1st, the Christmas shopping is pretty much finished and I can just enjoy it!


Makes: Approx 35-45 biscuits (about 2.5 inch square depending on the thickness)

Note: If you are just making these for yourselves rather than as gifts then you'll only want half the recipe! You also need to make and chill the dough before you can bake them.

Suitable for freezing

Ingredients:
  • 500g Unsalted Butter (room temperature and cubed)
  • 360g Caster Sugar
  • 700g Plain Flour
  • 4 Tbsp Milk
  • 4 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Tsp Ground Mixed Spice

Method:
  1. In a large bowl add the butter, flour and sugar, and rub until it is a breadcrumb consistency.
  2. Add the spice and mix well.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and the milk, mixing well again.
  4. Bring together into a ball and knead with your hands a little until it form a soft dough.
  5. Wrap in clingfilm or a covered bowl and chill for 30 mins in the fridge. (The first batch I forgot and left them in the fridge for an hour, but they were fine!)
  6. Remove from fridge and unwrap, kneading a few times to make the dough smooth.
  7. Roll out on a lightly floured surface until the dough is about 1cm thick (if like me you want more biscuits then you can do them a little thinner than this, but obviously reduce the baking time later on).
  8. Preheat your oven to 180°C (Fan Oven) or Gas Mark 4.
  9. Cut out your biscuits with your chosen cutter (These are lovely for snowflakes - our original vanilla version were iced snowflakes!) and place onto a tray lined with greaseproof or baking paper. Make sure they are a couple of cm's apart, they don't spread much though.
  10. Optional: If you want to emboss a message in them, do it now.
  11. Chill for 5-20 mins in the fridge (crucial as they will spread if you don't chill the butter in the biscuits - trust me, my first batch were terrible! My second batch I had to bake in two sittings so my first were chilled for 5 mins, and the second remained in the fridge until the first had finished baking).
  12.  Bake for 15-20 mins depending on the thickness - towards the end a minute can make the difference between crunchy and burnt so keep an eye on them!
  13. Leave to cool for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack.
  14. Enjoy!
Tips:

These should keep in an airtight container for about 2 weeks but ours have never lasted that long (they've been eaten!).

They are also suitable for freezing and I have left them in the freezer for about a month before and they've been fine. Make sure you put them in a freezable and airtight container, lining with clingfilm or greaseproof paper, and covering with either of those again between layers. My containers usually have about 4 or 5 layers of biscuits in! They will defrost overnight at room temperature and can then be finished if icing or packaged ready to be given away.

You can also leave out the mixed spice and just have plain vanilla biscuits which a really nice!

Once I've wrapped and labelled ours I'll update this recipe with a picture of the final gift for you to see!

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