spiced stars (and dinosaurs!)

As regular readers may have noticed, I’m pretty fond of Christmas baking! I originally started largely with family favourites, but gradually I’ve added new recipes as the production (in both senses of the word!) has expanded, and now I try to add one or two each year (and retire ones that are less popular or I’m sick of making). These simple spiced stars (and note that ‘perfect’ was already in the name – I prefer to stick to ‘my favourite…’) have been part of the rotation from the beginning, so I thought it was time they got their own post!

Iced sugar cookies, Lebkuken and spiced stars

While I avoid the ‘perfect’ terminology, these actually are the perfect Christmas box biscuit. They’re delicious – the brown sugar, zest and spices lifting something that is basically a shortbread; they last very well, several weeks at least; and the shape and small size make them a perfect mouthful.

cutting out spied stars

The only downside is that that same small size means they take forever to cut out! The dinosaurs above were ostensibly for the cousins to decorate, but also because I really got sick of cutting out mini stars – you can see above I finally just cut the last bit of dough into random pieces. 🙂 You could obviously do bigger shapes, or cut them in squares or diamonds, but the stars are really lovely if you are giving as gifts.

cutting out spiced stars

The Perfect Spiced Christmas Stars
Adapted very slightly from David Herbert‘s ‘Perfect…’ column in the Weekend Australian

250g soft butter
150g brown sugar
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla
375g plain flour
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon (freshly ground cinnamon is best in these)
pinch salt

Beat butter, sugar, rind and vanilla in a stand mixer until light and fluffy.  Sift over dry ingredients and mix at low speed until just combined.  Form into a flat disk and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Roll dough between sheets of baking paper (or on a floured surface if you prefer) to about 5mm thick.  Cut biscuits with a star cutter (I use a fairly small one as it makes transferring the biscuits easier).  You can make other shapes if you prefer – I made some dinosaurs this year for the young cousins to decorate. Chill dough again if it has softened. Bake on baking paper lined trays at 160C for approximately 15 minutes until golden and firm.

Makes at least 40 small stars. The stars keep well in a tin, and make good gifts.