Cookies are to Christmas what chocolate is to Easter! I just love making Christmas cookies, from gingerbread men to crinkles, snickerdoodles to speculaas. Christmas cookies can come in all shapes and sizes – carefully cookie-cuttered or rustic. I don’t discriminate, I love them all. I am so impressed at all the amazing decorated cookies that I see on Instagram and Pinterest. Some people are so talented. Meanwhile, I’m over here keeping it very simple with these Spiced Stars and Snowflake Cookies.
These cookies are so perfect for Christmas, sort of half way between a sugar cookie and gingerbread. There’s some subtle spices to make them feel festive, but feel free to add more if you like! I’ve used golden syrup here, but you could substitute honey or maple syrup to make a lighter cookie. If you want more of a traditional gingerbread, try using treacle or molasses. Either way, the dough comes together quickly and easily and can be made in advance and refrigerated until you’re ready to cut out and bake your cookies.
Here in Australia, we have a summer Christmas, so it’s often very hot when I’m trying to do my festive baking! How ironic that these cookies are snowflake shaped!! It’s important to keep the dough as cool as possible to create the best cut out shapes. If you need to chill your dough a few times between rolling it out then definitely do. It is much easier to work with and the cookies keep their shape better.
You can also put your cut out shapes on the baking trays in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes prior to baking. I also like to roll the dough out between two sheets of baking paper to prevent it from getting sticky and warm. I use an offset spatula, lightly floured to gently lift the cut out cookies onto the baking sheets, which again helps keep their shape perfect. As you can see, I’ve used star and snowflake shapes but you can do whatever shapes you like!
These Spiced Snowflake Cookies are so cute, and even though I’m not that great at piping and decorating, I think they still turned out really well. They would make lovely little gifts or addition to your cookie box. This is definitely something that you can get the kiddos involved with. You might end up with sugar all over the floor, but think of the memories!! I always loved making Christmas cookies with my Mum and Nanna.
The glaze is as simple as it gets – icing sugar and water. The trick here is to get the consistency right. You want it to be smooth and drizzly – not too thick or too liquid because either extreme will be difficult to pipe. If you need to thin out the glaze, add additional water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until you’re happy with it. Alternately, you can add extra icing sugar to thicken it up. The glaze will eventually dry hard but it can take a while. Be careful not to stack or pack away the cookies until the glaze is fully dried.
To decorate the cookies, I’ve used gold and white sanding sugar. It is a large granule sugar crystal that is great for decorating sweets because it won’t dissolve in the heat. I had never used this before but I love the classic, sparkly, wintery look that it gives these cookies. I found it in the baking aisle of the supermarket, next to all the sprinkles. If you can’t find it, use your favourite festive sprinkles, edible glitter or shimmer powder! At first I tried dipping the whole cookie into the sanding sugar, but I found that generously sprinkling it looked nicer.
And lastly, if you make these Spiced Stars and Snowflake Cookies or any of my other Christmas recipes, please let me know here in the comments or over on Instagram. Please take a pic and tag me @spicyicecream. I absolutely love to see your photos of the recipes you’ve made!
Spiced Stars and Snowflake Cookies
These Spiced Snowflake Cookies are so cute and would make lovely little homemade gifts or addition to your festive cookie box. The cookies are lightly spiced, halfway between a sugar cookie and gingerbread and are really fun to decorate.
- 125 g butter, softened
- 1/2 cup caster sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup or golden syrup
- 1 1/2 cups plain flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 cups icing sugar sifted
- 2 1/2 tablespoons water
- Sanding sugar
Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until pale and creamy, about 10 minutes. Add the egg yolk and beat to combine. Add maple/golden syrup, flour, cinnamon, vanilla, ginger and nutmeg and beat until well combined.
Divide the mixture into two, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Line two baking trays with non-stick baking paper.
Roll the dough between two sheets of non-stick baking paper, to about 3mm thickness. Use snowflake and star cookie cutters to cut shapes out of the dough. Re-roll and repeat until all dough is used.
Use a lightly floured offset spatula to carefully transfer the cookies to the baking paper lined trays. If it’s very hot when you are baking, you might want to refrigerate the cut out cookies for 15 minutes prior to baking.
Bake for 7-8 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on the trays.
To make the glaze, place sifted icing sugar and water in a bowl and stir until well combined. Adjust the consistency to your liking by adding a little extra water 1/2 teaspoon at a time. Transfer the glaze to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe the glaze onto the cookies, staring with the outline shape and fill in the center. Use a toothpick to smooth out the glaze. Quickly sprinkle the sanding sugar onto the cookies. I did this one by one, piping the glaze and then sprinkling the sugar immediately.
Allow the glaze to fully dry before stacking or packing away the cookies. Cookies will keep in an air-tight container for 3 days.
Makes 30-40 cookies
Recipe adapted from Donna Hay magazine