I've hummed and hawed over whether to call these cookies (attractively alliterative), shortbread (which sounds nicer than biscuit, but in actuality these treats do not have the slow-baked dry crumbly nature of shortbread), and eventually came to the conclusion that the texture bears most resemblance to the soft chewy and crisp-around-the-edge nature of a Shrewsbury Biscuit, and the "iced biscuits" of the school canteen and small cosy sweet-scented bakeries tucked away on the village high street....
In short, biscuit it is.
I love the cranberry speckle and the pretty frosted snowflake tops... they are even nicer to eat than look at (I had to have a sneaky try... it would be wrong to send an untested batch out into the world, wouldn't it?)
In cellophane packges, tied with ribbon, and a nice label, they are fantastic token gifts for teachers, youth group leaders and friends in the community. It's the sort of gift a child can get involved in making for their own leaders and friends too; easy to make from scratch for keen or older bakers, or decorating for the younger ones.
Bonus Variation - Rainbow Chocolate
The Snow-Iced Cranberry Biscuits would look really pretty boxed up with some cookies decorated like these ones I found on Food Network to make a variety pack; simply make the recipe below minus the cranberries but add a drop or two of vanilla essence to the dough, and then top with melted white choc instead of icing sugar and sprinkle with coloured sugar strands instead of coconut.
Here is how we make our Snow-Iced Cranberry Biscuits:
This makes 8 large biscuits
200g plain flour
150g butter - we like this one
100g granulated sugar
50g dried cranberries
Icing sugar and desiccated coconut to decorate
I like to put the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor and pulse until it comes together, adding the cranberries just before it clumps together. If making by hand, cream the butter and sugar together until well mixed then rub in the flour with your fingertips; mix in the cranberries and squeeze the dough together. Roll out to around 1cm thick. Cut out into rounds with a cutter or the edge of a beaker. Place on lined baking trays. Bake at 165C for 20 minutes. Leave for another couple of minutes before lifting the biscuits carefully off and onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container and ice only when ready to give away; I use water icing, then sprinkle with desiccated coconut to finish.
Will you be baking gifts this Christmas? Any ideas or links to share?