COOKIES ON TOP
MAKES 1 BATCH (for decorating, with lots of leftovers)
BASIC GINGERBREAD COOKIES
125g unsalted butter, softened
90g brown sugar
230g golden syrup
375g plain flour, sifted
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda, sifted
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
FOR THE BASIC DOUGH Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 10-12 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until pale and creamy. Add the golden syrup, flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger and mixed spice and beat until the mixture just comes together to form a smooth dough. Roll out between 2 sheets of nonstick baking paper to 4mm thick. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Preheat oven to 160C/gas 2½ and line a large baking tray or two with nonstick baking paper. Cut out and bake cookies as below. Allow to cool on trays slightly before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Use to decorate the cakes and store leftovers in an airtight tin.
FOR SNOWMEN Use 10cm and 9cm snowman-shaped cutters. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
FOR ANTLERS Use an 11cm antler cookie cutter. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
FOR REINDEER Use 7cm and 5cm deer cookie cutters. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Place 160g icing sugar and 2-2½ tsp boiling water in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place in a piping bag and pipe decoratively on to each reindeer.
FOR HOUSES Use an 11cm 3D gingerbread house cookie cutter. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. To assemble, place 160g icing sugar and 2-2½ tsp boiling water in a small bowl and mix to combine. Place in a piping bag. Pipe around the edges of the walls and doors and press together to seal. Pipe along the roof and tiles to decorate. Set aside for 30 minutes to firm.