I love the Christmas lights decorating our mainstreets, and I think London has out done itself this year . They cheer up a dark afternoon and put me in the mood for Christmas. Making biscuit is a very relaxing way to while away the time before Christmas too. Rolling out the dough, choosing which cutters to use is a very calming occupation and of course the delicious aroma coming from the oven as you bake is very evocative of all the fun that Christmas brings.
Each year I am finding more variations of this centuries old tradition. If I don’t get around to making all these new discoveries, I’ll be well armed for next year. I am still making the speculaas and the chocolate thins that the family loves but I have changed the way I make the dough. Most of the older recipes start with creaming the butter and sugar, making a soft dough that needs considerable time in the fridge firming up before you can roll it out. I have experimented making the biscuits in the food processor, whizzing the butter into the dry ingredients as you do for pastry or crumble. I have also omitted any baking agents, powders etc and used an egg as the liquid for binding. I think this definitely makes for a better looking biscuit.
My new favourite is flavoured with hazelnuts with only a hint of Christmas spices. Some I decorate with icing, but most I leave plain so as not to mask the delicate flavour of the nuts. Perfect with a cup of tea when a little something is needed. The biscuits stay crunchy in a tin. The uncooked dough can also be refrigerated ready for a second batch of baking . And yes they make a lovely gift wraped in cellophane. Happy Christmas and happy baking.
250g plain flour, 150g cold butter, 80g icing sugar, 50g hazelnuts, 1 tablespoon mixed spice, 1 egg.
Blend everything, except the egg in a food processor until the mixture resembles crumble, then add the egg to bind everything together. Put the dough, wrapped in the fridge for 30 minutes then roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut out biscuits and place on baking paper lined oven tray. Bake at 180C for 15 minutes.