Kim-Joy’s robin cookies recipe
With cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom, these spiced biscuits tick all the Christmas flavour boxes. Although, Kim-Joy didn’t initially intend on making sugar wings for these robins – that came about as a lucky accident when she was playing around with the recipe.
“They’re filled in the middle with hard crack sugar caramel that’s coloured orange,” she explains. “After a while that started setting – then we twisted it and did some sugar work to make some little wings for the robin, so it kind of worked out well.”
Robin cookies from Christmas With Kim-Joy
For the speculoos cookie dough:250g salted butter (or replace with vegan butter – for the best results, use vegan butter that’s close to 80% fat)250g brown cassonade sugar (or light brown muscovado sugar)¾tsp ground cinnamon¼tsp ground nutmeg⅛tsp ground white pepper⅛tsp ground cloves⅛tsp ground cardamomPinch of ground anise¼tsp bicarbonate of soda½ egg (or 2tbsp aquafaba)350g plain flour (or gluten-free flour plus ⅓tsp xanthan gum) plus extra for dustingYou can also add the finely grated zest of 2 lemons or 2 oranges to flavour
For the sugar centre:225g caster or granulated sugar150g liquid glucose50ml waterOrange gel food dye
For the royal icing:40g egg white (substitute with aquafaba for a vegan version)225g icing sugarPlus extra egg white (or aquafaba) and icing sugar to adjust and get the right consistency
Plus:Black and orange gelFood dyesSprinkles of your choice
1. For the cookie dough: line a baking sheet that you can fit in the fridge with baking paper and set aside for now. Cream the butter and cassonade sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a balloon whisk attachment until the butter and sugar is soft, fluffy and paler in colour. Scrape the sides and base of the bowl occasionally.
2. Add all the spices, bicarbonate of soda and egg or aquafaba, then mix for a few more seconds until completely combined.
3. Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and add all the flour. Use your hands to rub the butter and sugar mixture into the flour, then combine into a ball.
4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface, then use cutters to stamp out circles, about 7.5cm in diameter, and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. On half the cookies, stamp out a smaller circle, about 4cm from the lower third area (refer to the photo for guidance).
5. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the edges are just starting to colour. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.
6. When the cookies are cool, make the sugar glass for the centre. Add the caster sugar, liquid glucose and water to a small saucepan and stir to combine. Add a drop of orange gel food dye to colour. Heat over a high heat, but don’t stir at all until the mixture reaches 150°C. Remove the pan from the heat and use a large spoon to spoon the sugar syrup into the centre of the cookies. Immediately scatter over sprinkles. Leave the sugar syrup for 20 minutes, or until completely hardened, then peel off the baking paper.
7. Next, make the royal icing. Use a stand mixer (or handheld electric whisk) fitted with a balloon whisk attachment to combine the egg white/aquafaba and icing sugar until you get a smooth consistency. Then add tiny amounts of extra egg white (or aquafaba) and/or icing sugar to get the right consistency. Spoon one-third of the mixture into a piping bag, then divide the remaining icing between two bowls. Stir black food dye into one bowl and orange food dye into the other to colour.
Transfer each colour to a piping bag and cut a small opening on each. Use to pipe a robin design (refer to the photo for guidance). The wings are an optional extra decoration. You can make them by letting the leftover sugar syrup (used for the centres) cool, then pulling it into a long wide ribbon using your hands and cutting it into pieces with scissors. Just be careful not to do this when the sugar is too hot! It needs to be cooled to the point where it can be stretched and is malleable. It’s not a problem if this doesn’t work for you, as the robins still look good without the wings!
Christmas With Kim-Joy: A Festive Collection Of Edible Cuteness by Kim-Joy is published by Quadrille, priced £15. Photography by Ellis Parrinder. Available now
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