I realise it’s been a very long time, once again, since I’ve done a post but I am happy to be back with a baking one today because the Autumnal atmosphere recently has got me so excited for my favourite time of year.
I love Autumn for the change in the weather, the beautiful crunchy orange and red leaves and the anticipation for the festive period. I particularly enjoy baking at this time of year and, very un-originally, enjoy the multitude of pumpkin spiced things from Lattes to candles to treats! Today’s post took a long time to put together and a couple of trials (of which my colleagues enjoyed benefits of!).
I’ve always wanted to master the art of icing biscuits and I must admit, I spend far too much time on Pinterest and the Biscuiteers website and Instagram page ogling all of the beautiful works of art they create onto a sugar cookie. I would highly recommend taking a look! Little did I know, all you needed was some egg white in your icing sugar and water and it makes the perfect, opaque icing which will completely harden after only a few hours.
So, enough waffling, lets get into the recipe and fair warning- it makes a lot of biscuits so if you don’t want that many, I would half the recipe of the biscuits and the icing. Or alternatively, you could just bake up half of the biscuits and freeze the left over dough for another time- easy!
For the Cookies
2 Cups of Butter at room temperature
1 Cup of Granulated Sugar
1 Cup of lightly packed Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup of Pumpkin Puree-they sell this in cans in my local Sainsbury’s, but you can also order it on amazon.
2 Large Eggs
1 tsp of Vanilla Extract
2 tsp of Cinnamon
1/2 tsp of Ginger
1/8 tsp of Nutmeg
1/2 tsp of All-Spice
5 cups (maybe half a cup more) of Plain Flour
1/2 tsp of Salt
For the Icing
2 2/3 Cups of Icing Sugar
2 tbsp of Meringue Powder (or powdered Egg White)
6 tbsp of Water
A selection of Gel Paste food colouring- I went with Orange, Brown and a rusty-brown colour and my favourite brand is Sugarflair which I pick up in my local Lawsons.
50g of Dark Chocolate
Additional water for thinning
Disposable Piping Bags (or just any cellophane/plastic cone shaped bags)
Fine nozzles- I used a 1mm and a 2mm.
Cookie Cutters- you can go for whatever shape you like. I used a pumpkin one from Hobby Craft and an Acorn shaped one from John Lewis. If you didn’t want to buy the cutters you could try making yourself a paper template and cut them out yourself though this would be time consuming.
A hand mixer or free-standing mixer (you can just use a bit of elbow grease but it will be tough).
- Using a low speed, cream the butter and two types of sugar together in a bowl using an electric or free-standing mixer with the paddle or dough hook attachment. You can do this by hand but just make sure you are thorough. Don’t over mix these as you’ll create too much air within the mixture. It should only take about a minute or so, just make sure everything is incorporated nicely.
- Add the pumpkin puree and eggs whilst slowly mixing. Add the vanilla extract and stir this in. Don’t forget to scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure you’re getting everything incorporated.
- Sift the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl so that they are blended. Then re-sift them into your wet mixture and begin to mix everything on a very low speed or carefully by hand. This part will be messy so just take it slowly. It should only take 30 seconds to a minute and you’ll know when it’s done because the dough will start to form itself into one large ball and it’ll be extremely tough to work with if you’re doing it all by hand. If you overtax it at this stage you’ll cause the gluten to develop and in turn will have a tough cookie *pun absolutely intended*.
- Separate your dough into three balls so that it’s easier to work with. Wrap each ball up in cling film and put them in the fridge for at least an hour but preferably more.
- Once they’ve had sufficient time to chill. Take out your first ball of dough and place it on a very floured surface. This dough might be the stickiest I’ve ever worked with so you’ll need a good deal of flour to be able to work with it.
- Begin rolling out your dough and cutting out your desired shapes. Place these shapes onto lined baking sheets and then pop them back in the fridge to chill for at least 15 minutes. Repeat this step now or once you’ve made your first batch.
- Now turn your oven on whilst your biscuits are cooling to 170°c and pop the biscuits in once they’ve had their chill.
- Bake the biscuits for 8-10 minutes. Some larger shapes may take longer but the trick is to keep an eye on them for colouration. You don’t want them to turn colour at all really. If your biscuits are golden around the outside then you’ve gone too far.
- Let them cool, which shouldn’t take too long! Be careful with them whilst they’re still warm because they will be quite fragile and whatever you do, don’t ice them until they are completely cooled!
Now it’s time for the icing!
- Begin by whisking the meringue powder with the 6 tbsp of water until it becomes foamy and much larger in volume. You can do this by hand but it really will take some patience and determination.
- Add in your icing sugar to this and whisk on a medium speed until very stiff and thick (it should hold a stiff peak).
- Now separate it into 3 batches in individual bowls.
- You can add in your food colourings at this point- whichever ones you’re using! You’ll have to basically use trial and error for this bit and just keep adding and stirring until you get your desired colour. Be aware that the food colouring will thin the icing the more you add.
- If, at this point, your icing is still too thick to outline and then flood, add water just a drop or two at a time so that you can keep control of the consistency. I would recommend keeping it a little stiff for your outline initially.
- Use the 2mm nozzle inside a piping bag and fill with your icing to outline all of your biscuits first in your desired colours (I used a rusty red for the base of the acorn and a brown for the top, then an orange for the pumpkin along with the brown I’d already mixed).
- You can then start to thin your mixtures very carefully so that you don’t make it too runny. It should roll off the spoon in a nice smooth flow but still be a pretty thick liquid. I found that I could use a small spoon to flood most of mine which made it so much easier and faster. Just be really careful and don’t over-flood it with icing because you can just use a cocktail stick to drag icing into patches that aren’t covered. You are most likely to have accidents but don’t worry, I did too! It really is something that takes a lot of practice.
- To give the pumpkins their segmented-looking texture I decorated them in stages, letting two segments dry at a time and then going back in to fill the rest of it as you can see from the image below (hopefully).
- When the tops of your acorns have pretty much dried, melt your dark chocolate in the microwave and pop it into a piping bag with the 1mm nozzle. Then begin to pipe diagonal lines going in one direction and then the opposite to create grids. This really finishes the acorns off I think.
- Because of the egg white within the icing, it should be pretty solid after a few hours. Be very careful if you do have a prod, and if they’re not dry just leave them for longer. I left mine over night on boards and covered them well with tea towels just to be safe.
After having attempted to ice biscuits before and failing very miserably, I’m very happy that these were more presentable. I really hope that you learned something new and got some inspiration from this! Please let me know if I’ve missed anything or if you have any questions for this recipe. I hope you try it out for yourselves and enjoy them as much as myself, Jack, my family and my colleagues did!
See you for more festiveness soon I hope! Ooooh I do love this time of year.
Lots of love,
A Little Disclaimer- This is not a sponsored post. All products/items featured have been purchased with my own money or have been gifts from friends and family. I am not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned or the links to websites that may have been provided. All opinions are entirely my own and honest, I am not being paid to advertise these products. All pictures on this post have been taken by yours truly (unless I am in the photo, then it is someone employed by myself) and, as such, must be approved by the author for any further or commercial use.