Forget Christmas biscuits in the shapes of snowflakes, angels or stars. Enough already with the reindeer, jingle bells and holly. Candy canes and pine trees? Totally over. This year the festive period is all about flamingo-shaped biscuits. Oh yes.
While I was in Paris I picked up the cutest free magazine, le Bonbon, and made the serendipitous discovery of a recipe for Ginger Disco Biscuits. (No, there are no ecstasy pills here; this is much more fun than that.) Surely these were heaven-sent as the perfect vehicle for some edible glitter? And what could be better for showcasing said glitter than a fabulously retro pink flamingo?
Ginger Disco Biscuits, translated and adapted from le Bonbon 3e + 4e, Décembre 2009
370g flour, sifted
125g soft butter
90g brown sugar
4 tablespoons runny honey
1 egg, lightly beaten
a large pinch of salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
For the icing:
1 egg white
200g icing sugar, sifted
the juice of half a lemon
+ whatever food colourings and decorations your heart desires
You can either do this first bit in a food processor or by hand. If the latter: cut the soft butter into small pieces and beat in the brown sugar and honey with a wooden spoon, then with either electric beaters or your hand (which needs to be warm and clean), until the mixture is light and creamy. Add the beaten egg, flour, ginger, cinnamon, mixed spice and salt and mix to form a soft dough. Knead on a lightly floured board until smooth. Shape into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Take the dough out of the fridge and roll it out (preferably on a marble board :) until it’s around 5mm thick. Cut out your biscuits, space them out on the prepared baking tray and cook for around 8 minutes, depending on the size of your cutouts. Keep a close watch on them to avoid burning. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Make the royal icing by mixing the egg white with the icing sugar then stirring in the lemon juice. If you’re averse to the idea of using raw egg, you can make a basic glacé icing instead by simply adding a couple of tablespoons of water, or orange or lemon juice, to the sugar. You can add colouring – I used Sugarflair’s Claret to obtain a shocking pink. I prefer gel colourings to liquids as they don’t affect the consistency of the icing and it’s easier to control the final colour (put a tiny amount on the end of a cocktail stick, add, and repeat until you build up the required shade). Alternatively you could add some sieved cocoa instead of the colouring to make a chocolate icing.
Once the biscuits are completely cool, ice them and decorate as you wish. I use edible glitter (in this case, Edable Art’s Disco Neon Flamingo, aptly) to sparkle up my baking whenever opportunity allows and would highly recommend it if you want to make your creations look really special. Perfect for parties. Scoop a small amount of glitter onto the end of a teaspoon, hold above a just-iced biscuit, and tap the spoon handle gently with your finger to scatter evenly. Beware – the glitter will somehow find its way across your ENTIRE kitchen. If you touch your face you’ll also have instant Christmas makeup.