These sweet festive cookies are a wonderful treat to gift to friends and are great fun to make with children. They are spiced with the Christmas flavours of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves and then iced with pretty patterns to decorate. The cookies should last in an airtight container for 1 week.
Using an electric whisk or stand mixer, start by creaming together the butter and brown sugar (ensure your butter is softened to room temperature before you attempt to do this). Once the mixture is pale and fluffy add the molasses and vanilla extract and mix again.
In a separate bowl mix together the dry ingredients; the plain flour, Maldon salt, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture in stages and then mix until it forms a soft dough. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for an hour.
Preheat the oven to 170C.
After the dough has chilled, remove it from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface roll out the dough until it is roughly ½ cm thick. Use any cutters you like to cut out shapes – gingerbread men, stars, Christmas trees, candy canes – have fun with it! Place the biscuits onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, keeping the biscuits a few cm’s apart (you may need to do this across a couple of trays). Put the trays into the preheated oven and bake for 14 – 15 minutes until the biscuits are slightly darker and baked through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before lifting onto a wire rack to cool fully.
To make the icing place the 500g icing sugar into a bowl and add 1 tbsp water, mix until it forms a paste. Keep adding a small amount of water at a time till you reach your desired consistency. You want the icing to still be thick enough to pipe and hold its shape. Once you have the correct consistency, pour the icing into a piping bag with a small nozzle attachment and decorate the cooled biscuits anyway you like.