Last year for the girl’s teacher gifts we made up gift bags full of biscuits and cookies. It wasn’t planned, Annie had been having a bad week and was very stressed. Baking is excellent therapy for stress, so she and I spent the day cooking together.
We made (clockwise, starting at midday): Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees, Chilli Cheese Biscuits, Chocolate Shortbread Hearts, Gingerbread people (made with Heidi) and Chocolate Chews. Not pictured, but also made, were Florentine Biscuits.
We wrapped the cookies in cellophane and ribbon, cellophane bags would have been easier but I didn’t have any on hand. I made tags for each packet of biscuits using the cookie cutters (ie gingerbread people tags for the gingerbread cookies), the girls stamped Christmas images on one side and I wrote what sort of biscuit/cookie it was on the other side.
Annie’s hand down favourite was the Chilli Cheese Biscuits, they were really delicious and using a good quality butter and Parmesan cheese certainly made a big impact on the flavour.
Chilli Cheese Biscuits (recipe from Family Circle “Best Ever Christmas New Gifts & Ideas” book)
- 1 cup plain flour
- 1/4 cup self raising flour
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard powder
- 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
- 125g butter, chopped
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup water
- Milk, for glazing
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to moderate 180C. Brush oven trays with melted butter or oil (I used baking paper instead). Sift plain and self raising flours, mustard and chilli into a bowl. Add chopped butter.
- Using finger tips, rub butter into flour for 2 minutes or until mixture is a fine crumbly texture…. or if you have sensory issues, pop the flour, chilli, mustard and butter into a food processor and blitz till mixture is a fine crumbly texture.
- Add almost all the water, mix to a soft dough, adding more water if necessary.
- Turn onto lightly floured surface, knead for 1 minute or until smooth, shape dough into a log, 5cm in diameter. Store, covered with plastic wrap, in fridge for 15 minutes.
- Using a sharp knife cut log into 3mm thick rounds. Place on oven trays, allowing room for spreading.
- Brush rounds with milk, sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly golden, loosen, cool on trays for 5 minutes.
- Transfer to wire rack to completely cool.
Chilli Cheese Biscuits can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week. Dough can be frozen for up to 2 months.
Once we had prepared all our biscuits and wrapped them up into little parcels, I filled gift bags with a selection of each type of biscuit and the girls wrote cards to their teachers, aides and other support staff at school. The whole thing was quite unplanned and turned out much better than I thought it would when we started cooking.