Makes: about 20
Preparation time: 2 hours plus refrigeration, cooling and drying time
Baking time: 10-12 minutes
Oven temperature: 180°C
1 Sift the flour, baking powder, spices and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl. Mix in the castor sugar. Rub in the butter and then knead to form a dough. Add a little milk if the mixture is too dry.
2 Shape into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to one hour.
3 Roll out on a lightly floured surface. Use the templates to cut out bauble shapes. Alternatively, use different shaped cookie cutters. Put the biscuits on to a greased baking tray. Use a straw or wooden skewer to make a hole at the top of each biscuit. Bake in a preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
4 Icing Make the icing by whisking the egg whites until frothy. Add half of the icing sugar and stir well. Add the rest of the icing sugar a spoonful at a time until the mixture is less runny. It should just keep its shape when it is piped on to the biscuit. Stir in the glycerine, if using.
5 Divide and colour the icing and spoon about a quarter of each colour into individual piping bags folded from baking paper. Pipe a border around the cookies.
6 Mix a little water into the remain- ing icing. It must be slightly runny and just lose its shape when piped into the centre of the outlined biscuit. Spoon into separate piping bags. Flood the biscuit and shake a little from side to side to fill any gaps. Mix the colours while still wet if you want to create patterns in the icing. Leave to dry overnight. Keep the piping bags sealed with cling wrap in the fridge.
7 Pipe patterns on to the dry icing and decorate with cake decorations or crystals. Leave to dry for a few hours. Use ribbons to hang the biscuits on your tree.
Words and images: Ideas magazine