These are the easiest, spiciest, prettiest biscuits to make as tree decorations this Christmas. The idea is inspired by Alastair Hendy's beautiful Christmas Book which tells the story of a baker who is down on his luck and struggling to make his business work.
In the story the baker decides to make one last effort to create some Christmas treats to sell in his shop. And so one evening he lays out the ingredients to make biscuits the following day. When he gets up the next morning the biscuits have been made. Delighted the baker puts them in his bakery and they sell out. The following evening the baker leaves more ingredients out and the next morning he is surprised again. This goes on for several days until eventually he and his wife decide to stay up one night and find out who is making this lovely Christmas produce. They discover it is elves. The baker and his wife work out a way of thanking the elves for the kindness they have shown - for the bakery has been saved from financial ruin....
The elves don't give the recipe for the biscuits so I have found one elsewhere and here it is:
Spiced treacle and pine nut biscuits
Makes 24 small biscuits
200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
50g soft light brown sugar
100g unsalted butter, cold
50g black treacle
25g pine nuts (optional for the tree biscuits)
Sieve the flour, baking powder and spices into the bowl of a food processor. Add the sugar and give these ingredients a quick blitz. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Turn the flour, sugar and spice mixture into a large bowl and make a well in the centre of the ingredients. Warm a metal spoon and add the treacle (the treacle falls more easily from a warm metal spoon) and bring the mixture together with your hands until all the streaks of treacle have disappeared and the mixture looks smooth. Shape the dough into a ball and divide into two. Cover and chill the dough until ready to use but don't let the dough get too cold or it will be difficult to roll out.
To roll out the dough
Shape one of the pieces of dough into a flat disc and place on a piece of parchment paper. Cover the dough with a second piece of parchment paper (Clingfilm works well too) and roll the dough until it is 5mm thick . It should be nice and even.
Using the baking parchment to lift - transfer the dough onto a baking tray and place in the fridge to cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into shapes. Cut out the biscuit shapes using cutters or create your own templates using thick card. Remove any excess dough from the parchment paper and re-roll the dough before cutting more shapes
I made my own templates out of cardboard to make the trees and hearts. Press the pine nuts into the tree shaped biscuits.
If you want to hang the biscuits from a Christmas tree you will need to make a hole to thread ribbon through.
Preheat the oven to 170C/350F/Gas mark 4
Cook the biscuits on a baking sheet lined with the parchment paper for about 15 minutes or until they are just beginning to brown. Remove the baking tray from the oven and lift the parchment paper onto a cooling tray. Cool the biscuits thoroughly before storing otherwise they may loose their crunch. They will keep for a week.