The last few Christmases have been a little all over the place for my little family; and this is the first year I feel able to establish my own small traditions, that will hopefully carry on over the next few years. The first thing that sprang to mind was tree biscuits – although I don’t have a tree to hang them on yet, so this was a trial run! I hope that in the years to come, I can mark the start of the season with Small Boy with a batch of these simply spiced biscuits.


Ingredients (made 24 assorted sizes)

300g flour (plain or self raising)

100g butter

100g sugar

2 free range eggs

1 tsp cinnamon



First, the butter – because I make these with my son, I melt it in the microwave for a minute to make it easier to stir in. Traditionally, you would rub it into the flour with your fingertips, but once I started melting my butter in the microwave, I’ve never looked back. So whatever method you choose, you need to combine the butter and flour to form a breadcrumb consistency.

Tip in the sugar and cinnamon, and beat in the eggs to combine to form a dough.

Flour your work surface and hands, tip the dough out, and work it briefly to shape.

Roll it out, I don’t own a rolling pin, so I use a clean, empty bottle – a wine bottle, old vinegar bottle, any glass bottle will do. Roll it out to around half a centimetre thick for optimum biscuit thickness. Honest.

Cut out using your cookie cutter, or if you’re feeling radical, a blunt knife to make whatever shaped biscuits you like. (Not one to promote brands too much, but I picked up most of my novelty cookie cutters from Poundland, the 99p store, and Ikea!) If you want to hang them on the tree, make a small hole using a skewer, or the tip of a sharp knife – the hole will need to be larger than you think, as it smooshes back together in the oven a little!

Lightly grease your baking sheet, and place your cookies on top, leaving a few millimetres around them in case they spread out and all stick together. Bake in the centre of a preheated oven for 12 minutes at 180C, remove, and allow to cool.

I dredged mine very lightly with icing sugar while warm, for an extra sweet kick. Thread string or ribbon through, and hang them on the tree…if you think they’ll last that long!

Jack Monroe. Twitter: @MsJackMonroe. Facebook:



  1. I’ll be making some biscuits at Christmas but won’t hang them on the tree as our pets would pull the tree down trying to get to them.

    One Christmas tradition in our house is that we always give our daughter new pj’s on Christmas Eve. She’s 18 now but still wants to keep it going & I’ve bought her a onesie this year.

  2. I do a similar Christmas biscuit with grated orange or lemon rind and a bit of the juice. Orange would work well with cinnamon

  3. Aaahh, lovely- you reminded me about these! A few years ago I made a big batch of Xmas biscuits, iced, added ribbon and gave as gifts when visiting friends pre-christmas. A drinking straw makes a nice neat hole to thread ribbon through. Thanks for the inspiration again!

  4. That sounds a lovely simple recipe – I will try it tomorrow. One of my Christmas traditions with my daughter is that we make gift tags out of last year’s cards – we always do it on a Saturday in November with a Christmas film on the TV and it’s a good opportunity to look back at last year’s cards too. We use a pair of crinkly scissors (pinking shears borrowed from my mum – or craft scissors) and a hole punch and make nice big tags – we do the same with birthday cards – so we always have a good supply of gift tags throughout the year.
    I am new to your column Jack, but am enjoying reading it – lots of good ideas and also you are raising lots of important social and political issues that affect people’s lives. Hope you and your family have a lovely first Christmas in your new home.

  5. I love the thought of all these Christmas traditions I too also have no tree but will make one out of twigs painted silver or gold or even white and then put in a vase ,then decorated with whatever I can buy in the charity shops or 99p shops.I wish you and your sweet son lots of joy and continuous success in your work and writing.

  6. Easy Christmas tree – ask a friend, or go for a woodland walk, and get some thin branches – pop in a container/no water even needed – can spray white or use paint if wish (spread cost with friends) – hang biscuits, baubles, ribbons, pastry cutters, children’s mini toys even – see how inventive family can be – not that Jack has problems with that! Makes an interesting Christmas ritual – can even store branches if have space – make it different each year – good luck and have fun x

  7. Meant to add – did this with lilac branches one year, sprayed white, popped in WATER – decorations looked lovely amongst little green leaves that suddenly appeared!

  8. i have a tree cutter and make christmas shortbread for pressies (we roll a dice for our secret santa cost and once we rolled £1) as most people just went to poundland to get a gift – i cooked up a batch of shortbread trees and wrapped in celophane for my £1 effort. i did this for my mums stocking one year – after we saw some at a christmas craft fair, she went to look at them and walked away as they were so expensive (worked out at over a pound a biscuit!!) so i made my own and wraped them in the same style – she told me in private i should not have spent so much, untill i suggested looking to see if the handwriting on the lable looked familier .. she was blown away i went to so much effort (not really effort though)

  9. Thanks for this lovely Christmas recipe. On some blogs have seen popcorn sewn on thread used instead of tinsel on Christmas trees. I think it’s a US tradition. Looks festive and saves money too.

  10. Similar to what we make every year. And we do the boiled sweets trick too – very pretty with the lights shining through! I use a straw for the ribbon hole – just about the right size. I’ve used Nigella before – might try your recipe this year!

  11. I made these tonight just as snacks. Nice and not too sweet. I’ll make another batch as decorations 🙂 Do you know how look they last? If I make them now will they survive until Christmas?

  12. Oooh I’ve just tried these-they’re amazing! My husband isn’t usually a cinnamon fan but he’s just demolished three in quick succession. I think they’d taste really nice with some raisins in too. One word of warning-they do grow in the oven!

  13. Delighted to come across your recipe as had managed to lose mine – have made these for years and thought I’d had to forego them this year as couldn’t remember the ratios! Thank you 🙂 I usually cut them into star and cat shapes and make them for loads of people. I hope 2014 is kind to you and you get what you would wish for.

  14. These sound great. Another way to make the holes is to use a straw just after they’ve come out of the oven and are still soft. Not sure it’ll work on this dough, but it makes decent sized holes that are easy th thread ribbon etc through!

  15. I’ve just made these and they’re amazing! My four year old boy was v excited about hanging them on the tree, and then proceeded to try and eat the whole lot! Very successful and very easy
    Thanks for the tip about microwaving butter to make the breadcrumbs, makes it so so much easier!!

  16. I made these for Christmas, only mine were just circles cut out with a knife and an upturned glass as I couldn’t be bothered to dive into the cupboards for my cutters! Very nice- not too sweet, even when dredged with icing sugar whilst warm, and not too crumbly, so my boyfriend could eat them without getting crumbs in his cast! Has anyone tried them with other spices, at all? I’m thinking ginger might work, maybe?

Leave a Reply