For the biscuits:
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) soft dark sugar
- 10 1/2 ounces (300 grams) plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- Pinch salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 large free-range eggs, beaten
- 4 tablespoons clear honey
- For the icing and trimmings
- 10 1/2 ounces (300 grams) instant royal icing sugar (made to packet instructions)
- 3 tablespoons water
- Gold or silver sugar balls or sprinkles
Florist's ribbon or wire, for hanging
Special equipment: Set of Christmas cutters
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (170 degrees C).
Place the butter and sugar in a clean bowl and mix together vigorously with a wooden spoon until the color and texture of the mixture becomes pale. Place the mixture into the bowl of a food processor and add the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and freshly ground black pepper. Blend the mixture. While the food processor is blending, gradually pour the eggs and honey down the funnel of the food processor's lid into the bowl until a dough has formed (you may not require all of the liquid if the dough has come together before it is used up). If the dough is too dry add a little water to the mixture. If the dough is too wet add a little flour.
Halve the dough. Wrap 1 half of the dough in cling film, place it into a freezer bag, and refrigerate. Place the other half of the dough onto a floured work surface. Roll the dough, with a rolling pin, into a disk to about 1/4-inch thick. Using a set of Christmas biscuit cutters, cut decoration shapes out of the dough. Re-roll the remaining dough and cut out more shapes until the dough is used up. Remove the second half of the dough from the fridge and repeat this process. With the pointed end of a small icing nozzle, puncture a hole just below the top of each decoration (through which ribbon or wire can later be threaded to hang them). Arrange the decorations on baking sheets lined with a layer of reusable silicon baking parchment and cook for 20 minutes or until they are cooked through and golden-brown in color. Transfer the decorations to a wire rack to cool.
Prepare the icing according to the packet instructions (the icing texture should be liquid enough to be easy to apply but thick enough not to run off the decorations). Ice the decorations using a teaspoon (use the tip of the spoon for dripping the icing onto the decoration and the back of the teaspoon for smoothing). Sprinkle the gold or silver balls over the decorations and press them gently onto the icing. Cut the ribbon into short lengths and thread the ribbon through the holes in the decorations. Tie the decorations to what ever needs decorating with the ribbon.