Sunday, December 4, 2011

An angel for the top of the Christmas tree

I love Christmas. I love singing Christmas carols (to myself as I am incredible tone deaf!), I love Christmas food, I love buying presents for people and I love the festive feeling that is in the air. 

Growing up, Christmas was always a big affair full of tradition. We always put the Christmas tree up on the 1st December with carols playing in the background and my sister breaking at least one ornament (age did not stop this tradition). My Mum sat back and watched until it was time to put the angel on the top of the tree - that was her job. I have so many wonderful memories of those years that I want to incorporate some of them into my own family so my son can enjoy them he grows up. My family always used a fake tree, however my husband's family used a live tree. More often than not it would be a massive branch that they found somewhere in a park (or one year, just on the side of the road). My husband has always said he wanted us to have a real tree, so this year, we do. It's not huge, but something that can grow and take on a shape of it's own.

As we don't have a star or angel to grace the top of our new tree, I thought I would bake some little angels to ensure her presence was there. These are similar to my Christmas Tree and Snowmen cookies from last week, however vanilla. Enjoy.

Angel Sugar Cookies
125g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup icing sugar 
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 cup plain flour 
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Using an electric beater, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla until combined and slightly fluffy. Add the flour and salt and mix until just combined. Roll the dough out between two pieces of baking paper until it's about 1.5/2cms thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut shapes and place on a baking tray. Bake cookies for about 10 to 15 minutes. Cool for about 5 minutes on the baking tray then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Royal Icing
2 egg whites
2 tsp lemon juice
3 cups icing sugar

Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until stiff peaks. Add half the sifted sugar and beat on low speed until smooth, then add the second half and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat or the icing will be too thick. Sketch out your design on a piece of paper and separate the icing into individual bowls for each of your colours. Add food coloring. The icing needs to be used immediately or put in an airtight container as it hardens when exposed to air. 

Using a small piping bag, pipe the outside edge of your cookie. Then fill the inside of the shape. Store in an airtight container.

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