12 Cookies of Christmas – gingerbread Christmas trees

Today didn’t go exactly to plan.

I was really looking forward to putting up the Christmas tree. I had bought some gorgeous silver decorations and bows from Sainsburys (half price at the moment for you fellow bargain hunters) I couldn’t wait to stick on some Christmas music and decorate the tree with my boys.

I braved the sleet outside, dragged the tree out of the shed and took it into the house.

I was all set to assemble it when I realised a pretty vital part was missing – a piece of the stand for the bottom. Nooooo! I went back out into the shed with a torch but had no luck locating the missing piece šŸ˜¦

So I decided to console myself with a little baking instead. I had a recipe in my head for some little chocolate shortbread discs filled with dulce de leche. I got to work on the dough, rolled the shortbread discs out and popped them in the oven. Five minutes later I hear screaming from upstairs. I bolted up the stairs. My son had tripped over a remote control truck and cut his toe. Once I had cleaned it up, put a plaster on and administered lots of cuddles, I smelt burning. My chocolate shortbread. Burnt to a crisp.

Needless to say I won’t be sharing that recipe with you today! But I will this week, I promise. That’s if I don’t burn them again!

Instead I’m sharing a recipe that the whole family can join in to help make – gingerbread Christmas trees. I enjoy decorating them as much as the kids, despite the fact that my decorating skills are zero! But that doesn’t matter because they never hang around for long!

This gingerbread recipe is my children’s favourite. It comes from an old BBC Good Food magazine.

The orange extract is optional but adds a lovely flavour to the gingerbread. I picked this tip up from my foodie friend Rikka. Rikka’s Finnish gingerbread is a very popular recipe in my cooking friends circle. It was even published in a book called Brilliant Biscuits written by the very talented Pamela Giles, who is very sadly passed away a couple of months ago. Rikka’s original recipe calls for pomerans which is dried mandarin powder. That’s not something you can easily get hold of in the UK, so Pamela suggested using orange extract as a substitute. Now I always add orange extract to any gingerbread recipe – it really does impart a lovely subtle orange flavour.

Gingerbread Christmas trees

100g butter
175g dark muscovado sugar
75g golden syrup
350g plain flour
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp orange extract (optional)
One large egg, beaten

Combine the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda in a bowl.
Gently melt the butter, muscovado sugar and syrup in a large pan. Take off the heat and let the mixture cool a little before tipping in the flour and beaten egg. Stir until the mixture comes together into a smooth dough. Cut the dough in half, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for around one hour or until firm.

Preheat oven to 180C. Take one half of the dough out of the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface. Cut out shapes using tree cutters and arrange on lined baking trays. Bake for 10-15 minutes. The biscuits will still be a little soft in the middle. Leave on the baking tray for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack.

When the Christmas trees are completely cold, decorate with icing, sweeties and edible glitter!

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