It’s been a while since I’ve had any spare time for preposterously themed baked goods, but fear not – it’s a bank holiday here in the UK and while everyone else is out in the sun, I’m spending some quality time in my kitchen because I know how to have a good time. Yes, sir.
Star Wars Day (‘May the 4th be with you…’) seemed like a good time to pick up the Darth Vader spatula again. This isn’t the first time time I’ve employed Star Wars as a theme for confectionery – I’ve previously made Star Wars Holiday Special cupcakes, Star Wars shortbread and Han Solo in carbonite chocolates to name a few.
Obvisouly the sugar skulls are usually linked to the Mexican Day of the Dead festival (Dia De Muertos) on 1 and 2 November, rather than Cinco de May (on 5 May), but why let the facts get in the way of a good biscuit, eh? (On a side note – did you know that Mexico has a festival with the unimprovable name of Night of the Radishes? You do now).
Back to the biscuits (or cookies, if you’re of the American persuasion). I adapted the the Super Chocolatey Biscuits recipe from the Biscuiteers Book of Biscuits and followed their guidelines for icing. The whole ‘line’ and ‘flooding’ icing system is a bit of a palaver, and a process that I’ve only used twice before on my peanut butter plectrum biscuits and Kendo Nagasaki biscuits, but it does give a good result.
I used one of my three (yes, three) sets of Williams Sonoma Star Wars cookie cutters to cut out the C-3PO faces, but you can always but them out with a knife.
What you’ll need:
For the biscuits:
275g plain flour (sieved)
100g self raising flour (sieved)
75g cocoa powder (sieved)
125g granulated sugar
1 tsp chili powder (as hot as you dare)
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
125g salted butter, diced
125g golden syrup
1 large egg, beaten
For the icing:
450g (plus 50g spare) royal icing sugar
75ml cold water
Coloured icing gel
What to do:
For the biscuits:
Mix the sieved flours, cocoa powder, sugar, chili powder and cayenne pepper into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the ingredients together until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Next, make a well in the middle and add the egg and golden syrup and mix together into a dough. Add a touch more golden syrup if it’s too dry to form a dough. Divide into two or three balls, squash flat into large discs, wrap in clingfilm and bung in the fridge for an hour or so.
When you’re ready to roll, bring the dough back to room temperature and place a disc between two pieces of baking parchment and roll out with a roling pin. This means that won’t need to add any flour to stop the dough from sticking.
The dough should be about 5mm thick. Cut out your shapes and place them a fair distance apart on a non-stick baking sheet. Stick in a pre-heated oven on 170°C (150°C fan oven)/350°F/gas mark 4 for about 14-16 minutes. Then take them out of the oven and carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Make sure they’re completely cool before you start to ice them or the icing won’t stick.
For the icing:
Bung the water in a large bowl, then add 450g of royal icing sugar. Then whisk them together until the icing is the same sort of consistency as toothpaste. If it looks too runny – add some more icing sugar. (I ended up using the whole 500g). I added a a few drops of icing whitener at this point.
Stick a tablespoon or two into a disposable icing bag and snip of the end to make a small hole. Pipe the outline of the face around the edge of the biscuits, forming a tiny wall of icing with no gaps. Let dry for five minutes.
Next you’ll need to convert the remaining icing in the bowl into flooding icing. To do this, add a few drops of water at a time and mix in until the consistency is slightly runny, a bit like custard.
Spoon carefully into the middle of each biscuit and smooth out to the edges using the back of the spoon or a cocktail stick if you want to be precise. Leave to dry for a while.
Next, paint on the C-3PO face. I used some coloured icing gels that were kindly sent to me the nice people at Dr Oetker. I stuck a blob of each colour onto a makeshift baking parchment palette and used a fine paintbrush to draw on all the details.
I have no painting or drawing abilities whatsoever, so the finish isn’t perfect, but it’s the best I could manage with my ham-fisted artistry skillz.
The last step is to return the iced biscuits to a very cool oven – about about 50-70°C/120-160°F/gas mark1/2-3 for 30 minutes. I know it sounds bonkers, but it dries out the moisture that seeps into the biscuits from the icing and restores the crunchiness.