Weekend Christmas baking in the UAE: 7 recipes for the cookie box

Weekend Christmas baking in the UAE: 7 recipes for the cookie box

From ginger biscuits to butter cookies, these recipes will jolly up your festive sharing

Assorted cookie box
We can't think of a better Christmas gift than a homemade assorted cookie box Image Credit: Shutterstock

If Christmas cookies haven’t been a part of your daily diet for at least a week now, we have seven recipes to right that wrong immediately, and help build your own cookie box.

Because simply put, Christmas means an abundance of cookies.

Homemade cookie boxes are fun to put together with the whole family, to give as gifts. Simply mix and match on a plate, then cover with cellophane wrappers. Or buy cute tins and make your own gift boxes overflowing with deliciousness. Or just reserve them for Santa with a glass of milk.

To fill up your very own cookie box, start with this guide to biscuit making and a peanut butter biscuit recipe. Then up the ante with these seven delicious additions below. They’re sparkly, ooey-gooey, chunky and crunchy. There’s spicy and extra sweet. There’s textures that melt in your mouth or provide a whole lot of munch.

There’s something for both fruit and chocolate lovers, from glace cherries to chocolate buttons. There are biscuits in the shapes of candy canes, Christmas trees and snowmen. There’s decorations from simple dustings of icing sugar to flaked almonds and fruit drops. There’s even a gingerbread house.

We haven’t forgotten the can’t-miss classics either – there’s butter cookies and ginger biscuits. If you don’t have the time for elaborate masterpieces, they work great. There’s something for everyone, and for every mood, because we know festive traditions are incomplete without the aroma of freshly baked cookies filling your home.

Ready to make one show stopping cookie box? Read on…

Chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate chip cookies Image Credit: Camera Press

Prep + cook time 30 minutes

Makes 36


250g butter, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

¾ cup (165g) caster sugar

¾ cup (165g) firmly packed light brown sugar

1 egg

2¼ cups (335g) plain flour

1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

375g dark chocolate melts/buttons, chopped coarsely


Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan. Grease three large oven trays and line with baking paper.

Beat butter, extract, sugars and egg in a large bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Stir in sifted flour and soda, in two batches. Stir in chocolate.

Roll tablespoons of mixture into balls; place about 5cm apart on trays.

Bake cookies for 15 minutes or until golden brown; cool on trays.

Christmas Biscuits

Christmas Biscuits
Christmas Biscuits Image Credit: Camera Press

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Chill time: 1 hour


250g butter

100g caster sugar

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp all spice

300g plain flour


Cream the butter until light. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract.

Gradually blend in the flour and all spice. Cover and chill dough for at 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 180°C.

Roll dough out on a lightly floured surface to .25cm thickness. Cut into desired shapes, using lightly floured biscuit cutters. Place biscuits on ungreased baking trays.

Bake in the preheated oven for 8 to 12 minutes or until golden. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Decorate as desired or dust with icing sugar.

Ginger biscuits

Ginger biscuits
Ginger biscuits Image Credit: Camera Press

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Baking time: 12-15 minutes

Makes about 50


250g butter

530g sugar

2 large eggs

180g golden syrup

650g cake flour

15ml ground ginger

¾ tbsp (12.5ml) baking powder

12.5ml bicarbonate of soda


Beat together the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and syrup and mix well. Sift the dry ingredients and 4ml salt together and add to the butter mixture. Mix until a soft dough is formed.

Roll the dough into small balls and place on a greased baking tray – leave enough room between the biscuits. Bake in a preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

Leave the biscuits to cool for a few minutes on the baking tray then transfer them to a metal rack.

Gingerbread house

Gingerbread House
Gingerbread House Image Credit: Camera Press

Prep + cook time 3 hours (+ refrigeration, cooling & standing)

Makes 1 house

You will need to start this recipe the day before.


250g butter, softened

1 cup (220g) firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup (350g) golden syrup

2 egg yolks

5 cups (750g) plain (all-purpose) flour

2 tbsp ground ginger

2 tsp mixed spice

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)

1 sheet cardboard • 28cm x 33cm (11¼ -inches x 13¼ -inches) covered board

700g assorted sweets

Desiccated coconut, for ’snow‘

For the glaze

1 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar

2 tbsp water

½ tsp powdered gelatin

For the royal icing

2 egg whites

3¼ cups (500g) pure icing (confectioners’) sugar, approximately

½ tsp strained lemon juice


Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in golden syrup and egg yolks. Add sifted flour, spices and soda; stir to combine. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide dough in half, cover with plastic wrap; refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 160°C. Cut cardboard into a 20cm (8-inch) square and a 20cm (8-inch) equilateral triangle (all the sides are the same length). Roll one half of the dough on a piece of baking paper until 5mm (¼ inch) thick.

Using cardboard templates, cut out one square and one triangle from dough; remove excess dough. Slide shapes, still on baking paper, onto a large oven tray. Roll out remaining dough half; cut out another square and triangle; remove excess dough. Place, still on baking paper, on another oven tray.

Cut out a door and window from one triangle (keep door shape, discard window); place door on tray with other shapes. Bake door about 30 minutes; bake larger shapes for about 40 minutes or until firm. Leave shapes on trays for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool.

Make the glaze. While the gingerbread is still warm, combine sugar, water and gelatin in a small microwave-safe dish. Microwave on medium (55 per cent) for 30 seconds; stir until sugar dissolves.

Make royal icing. Lightly beat egg whites in a small bowl, on low speed, with an electric mixer until just broken up; do not whip into peaks. Beat in the icing sugar a tablespoon at a time to get the required piping consistency, stir in juice. Cover surface of icing with plastic wrap to prevent drying.

Brush all gingerbread shapes with the glaze while still warm; stand until cool.

Spread a thin layer of icing on the covered board (to use as a non-slip base). Assemble gingerbread house on board, using icing to secure pieces together; stand until set. Sprinkle desiccated coconut on board around the house. Spoon icing into a piping bag, pipe along all joins. Position the door in place with icing. Stand until set.

Thin a small amount of remaining icing with a little water; pipe peaks of icing on the underside of roof to represent snow/icicles. Stand until set. Using a small plain tube, pipe an outline around the window and door. Decorate house with sweets; secure to house with icing.

Shortbread wreaths

Shortbread wreaths
Shortbread wreaths Image Credit: Camera Press

Prep + cook time: 45 minutes

Makes 20


250g butter, softened

1 ½ cups plain flour

1 cup cornflour

Red and green glace cherries

80g flaked almonds


Beat butter and 1 cup icing sugar mixture (you can also substitute with confectioners’ sugar or plain icing sugar) in a bowl with electric mixer until light and creamy. Gradually stir in sifted flours and mix until well combined.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes or until smooth. Divide dough into 3 portions. Roll one portion between 2 sheets of baking paper until approximately 6mm in thickness.

Cut dough into rounds using an 8.5cm fluted cutter. Then, using a 5cm fluted cutter, cut out the centre of each one to form wreaths. Place wreaths on a baking paper-lined oven tray.

Cut red and green glace cherries into small pieces. Decorate the top of each wreath with one piece of red cherry and two pieces of green cherry, then arrange the flaked almonds in a slightly overlapping pattern around each one (refer to picture). Continue with remaining dough portions and centre trimmings. Bake wreaths in 180oC preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Stand on trays for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Tip: Wreaths will keep in an airtight container, with a sheet of baking paper between each layer, for up to 2 weeks. Alternatively, they can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Stained glass Christmas stars

Stained glass Christmas stars
Stained glass Christmas stars Image Credit: Camera Press

Prep + cook time 45 minutes (+ refrigeration & cooling)

Makes 24


1 vanilla bean

250g unsalted butter, softened

¾ cup (165g) caster (superfine) sugar

1 egg

1 tbsp water

2¼ cups (335g) plain (all-purpose) flour

90g individually wrapped sugar-free fruit drops, assorted colours


Split vanilla bean in half lengthways; scrape seeds into a medium bowl with butter, sugar, egg and the water. Beat with an electric mixer until combined. Stir in sifted flour, in two batches. Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth. Cover; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 180° C/350° F. Line two oven trays with baking paper.

Using a rolling pin, gently tap wrapped lollies to crush them slightly. Unwrap lollies, separate by colour into small bowls.

Roll dough between sheets of baking paper to 4mm thickness; return to the refrigerator for 15 minutes to chill. Cut shapes from dough using 7cm (2¾ -inch) wide star cutter; place cookies on oven trays. Use a 6cm (2½ -inch) or 4cm (1½ -inch) star cutter to cut out the centre of each star to make windows. Using a skewer, make a small hole in the top of each star for threading through string.

Bake stars for 7 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove trays from oven; fill each window in stars with a few of the same-coloured lollies. Bake for a further 5 minutes or until browned lightly. Cool stars on trays.

Christmas cookie decorations: Star iced cookies

Hang iced sugar cookies on the tree this year for a deliciously interesting variation on Christmas decorations

Star iced cookies
Star iced cookies Image Credit: Camera Press

Prep + cook time: 30 minutes plus standing time

Makes about 40


500ml cake flour

½ tsp salt

½ tsp (2ml) bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

250ml castor sugar

125ml butter, cold

1 egg, beaten

1 tsp vanilla essence

30–60ml water


300ml icing sugar, sieved

1 egg white, lightly beaten

Various food colourings

Shiny, edible decorations

String or ribbon


Sift the dry ingredients together three times and grate the cold butter into the mixture. Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips until it forms crumbs.

Mix the egg, vanilla essence and half the water. Pour into the flour mixture and mix together. Add more water if necessary and mix until a soft dough is formed. Let the dough stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200 °C and grease a baking tray. Roll the dough out to about 3mm thick on a floured surface and press out different shapes with cookie cutters. Use a stick to make a hole in each cookie (to thread string through) and bake for six minutes or until done. Set aside to cool.

Mix the icing sugar and egg white and beat to form a smooth icing. Separate the icing into batches for the different colours you’re going to use and add a little food colouring to each. Decorate the cookies, thread with string or ribbon, and they’re ready to go on the Christmas tree!

Tip: Check that the hole is big enough for the string to pass through as soon as the cookies come out of the oven. If it isn’t, press out the hole in the warm cookie again.

- Recipes by Camera Press

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