BAKE YOUR OWN DECORATIONS

Want less ordinary decorations that will really impress this Christmas? Then get creative and bake your own. We’ve teamed up with the incredibly talented Nila Holden to bring you a step-by-step guide to creating decorations that will be as fun to take down (eat) as they are to put up! They also make a great gift for surprise guests. WARNING: ensure to bake extra as you’re likely to be a few decorations down by the time Christmas day comes around.

Ingredients
Makes approx 12 medium sized cookies

For the cookies
75g salted butter, cold from the fridge
275g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
95g caster sugar
1 small free range egg, beaten
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract

For decorating
10 boiled sweets, pink or red coloured
100g of white fondant/sugar paste
edible glue
baker’s twine
round cookie cutters
mini cookie/sugar paste cutters eg stars and christmas trees

1. Preheat your oven to 170°c.
2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a mixing bowl and add the caster sugar. Grate the cold butter into the mixing bowl. The colder your butter, the easier this will be. Or if easier, you could cut the butter into small cubes and add to the bowl. Rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your fingers until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
3. Crack the egg into a separate bowl to ensure you don’t get any rogue shell and beat. Add the golden syrup and vanilla essence to the beaten egg and mix.
4. Make a well in the dry ingredients bowl and pour in the beaten egg, golden syrup and vanilla essence mixture. Mix together to form a dough. Try not to overwork the dough as this will make your cookies tough. Place the dough into a plastic food bag and flatten to form a disc shape. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill the dough. Meanwhile, line two baking sheets with baking parchment.
5. Remove the dough from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface until about 5mm thick.

6. Using round cutters cut out your circles and place on the lined baking tray. Using the mini cutters, cut out a shape from the centre of the circle taking care not to distort it. Take the pointed end of a clean paintbrush or lollipop stick and make a hole at the top of the cookie. Place in the oven and bake for five minutes.

7. In the meantime place the boiled sweets in a food bag and crush with a rolling pin until you have a fine powder.

8. After five minutes take the cookies out of the oven and leaving them on the tray, sprinkle the crushed boiled sweets into the centre of the cookies. You will need to work quickly here, but take care not to get any powder onto the edge of the cookies as this will not look great when completely baked. Also make sure that the space inside the cookie is covered to the edges with the crushed sweet powder.

9. Return the tray to the oven and bake for a further five minutes. When baked, remove from the oven. You may need to re-pierce the holes at the top of the cookies if they have closed up a bit. Carefully remove from the tray and cool on a wire rack.
10. When completely cooled, thread some baker’s twine through the hole at the top of the cookie and tie a knot at one end. And voila – you have some beautiful stained glass decorations for your tree!

A good way to disguise any drops of melted sweets that might have crept onto your cookie shape is to roll out a small amount of sugar paste and then cut out a circle with the same cutter you used for your cookies. Cut out a shape from inside the circle with the matching cutter. Using a paint brush lightly cover the cookie with edible glue and cover with the sugar paste. Once you’ve mastered the technique, why not try experimenting a little, with different cookie shapes or different coloured sweets? Be as creative as you like!

Wishing you a very merry and sweet Christmas!

For more beautiful handmade designs by Nila, visit her notonthehighstreet.com store now.

Want to try Nila’s recipe but need some new equipment? Why not try our selection of baking accessories.

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