The recipe for these lovely Jewel Biscuits is taken almost un-fiddled-with from the lovely Scheherezade Goldsmith’s lovely Christmas book (subtitle: how to have a really lovely jolly eco Christmas; chapter 1: first acquire an enormous amount of money and several hundred acres of Herefordshire. Add staff to do the menial stuff while you footer about with felt and oranges, and find friends of the sort to appreciate a galvanised bucket of salt as a present.)
Cream 100g butter and 275g caster sugar. Add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and 2 large eggs, then sift in 525g plain flour, 2 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp ground cinnamon and a pinch of salt. Mix it all up with a slosh of milk until it is nice and doughy, then wrap in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or so (NB Sheherezade does not specify clingfilm as it is not very eco. Use whatever you like.)
Preheat the oven to 190C. Roll out the dough on a nice floury surface, to about 1/2 cm thick. Cut shapes – I did a Christmas tree, a star and a bell – and use a smaller cutter (or the lid of aÂ screw-cap wine bottle) to make holes. Fill the holes with crushed hardboiled sweets* (S says they should be organic; I used Foxes). You could sprinkle some caster sugar over now, for a glittery effect, but I found I preferred a snowy dusting of icing sugar once they were cooled. Don’t forget to make a hole if you want to hang them – and you really do, else you can’t appreciate the stained-glass centres. Put in the oven on baking sheets covered in baking parchment, about 10 minutes: move the entire bit of parchment onto the cooling rack and leave until completely cold. Icing sugar; ribbon (cellophane bag for school fete).
Oh, and the book says this makes 12 cookies…mine were reasonably large (palm-sized trees and stars; slightly smaller bells), certainly as big as you would want, and I got about 30, plus another 15 toddler-sized plain stars when I ran out of sweets.
*My entire kitchen is covered in minute shards of hardboiled sweet. Ignore at your peril Sheherezade’s top tip of putting them in a (clean, recycled) plastic bag before bashing with a rolling pin: the individual plastic wrappers Do Not Do. Or, as I found rather late in the process, if you get your hole the right sort of size – say the size of the wine-bottle top – you don’t have to crush at all, just bung an intact sweety in. They melt just the same.