Count down to Christmas in style by getting creative with homemade chocolate gingerbread. Decorate it in festive fashion then pin onto a chalkboard Christmas tree.
"Get crafty this year and make your own Advent calendar. It’s a gorgeous way to bring festive cheer to your home and great fun if you’ve got kids around. Plus, these are much tastier than cheap chocolate novelties." Sarah Cook, BBC Good Food magazine Food editor
Firstly, make your chocolate gingerbread...
Use our versatile recipe to make a batch of chocolate gingerbread. It should make 24 biscuits with a little mixture to spare. Our version uses grown-up sized biscuits, but if you’re making for little ones, scale down the size, then one batch of dough should make enough for two or three children. If you haven’t got enough room to hang three Advent calendars, just make sure the biscuits are thoroughly dry, then hang each day’s treats off the same string.
Choose how many of each shape you'd like on your Advent calendar, and pre-cut them before baking.
Once you've taken them out of the oven, before leaving them to cool punch holes in the top of each biscuit for hanging. Firstly, press the end of a straw into each one to cut out a hole.
Next, snip off the end of the straw with the piece of gingerbread inside and continue with the other biscuits.
Decorate your biscuits:
Make this fun design with your family – little fingers will make light work of the decorating, and you can have a maths lesson along the way!
TO DO Cut your biscuits into triangles using a template – ours was 7cm on each side. After baking, cut two hanging holes in the middle of one side. Use number cutters (or cut out with a small sharp knife like we did) to stamp out 1 to 24 from a sheet of ready-rolled icing. Make runny icing by mixing some sifted icing sugar with a dribble of water. Use small paintbrushes to paint the tops of the icing numbers with some runny icing before dunking in their favourite coloured sprinkles and edible glitters. Leave the numbers to dry for 10 mins, then use more runny icing painted on the bottom of the numbers to stick them to the biscuits.
These look gorgeous strung along a fireplace or hanging from a picture rail.
TO DO Stamp your biscuits out using different snowflake cutters. Decorate each biscuit differently by painting some with runny icing (see instructions above), then dunking into edible glitters and sprinkles – it’s easiest if you tip them onto a small, flat saucer first. Add more icing sugar to your runny icing to make a stiffer consistency, spoon into a piping bag and pipe on pretty details. You can pipe a number onto each with this icing too, if you want.
These are as nice to nibble on as they are to look at – you could even add a drop of flavoured extract into the icing – orange would work well with the gingery chocolate biscuits.
TO DO Make a stiff-ish icing using fondant icing sugar this time (this results in a shinier finish). Then thinly pipe around the outsides and holes of each biscuit. You’re making a ‘wall’ to hold in the other icing, so make sure you don’t leave any gaps. Leave to set for 30 mins until hard. Make more icing of a slightly runnier consistency. Pipe or spoon the icing onto the biscuits, ‘flooding’ the area inside your icing ‘walls’. Shake a little to evenly spread the runny icing, then immediately use the remaining stiffer icing to pipe on a number.
For more help with this, see Edd Kimber's guide to flood icing biscuits.
Other ideas for biscuits:
Clockwise from top left: Gingerbread men, Rudolph and reindeer friends, a Nativity scene, 12 days of Christmas.
Assemble your Advent calendar
We painted a sheet of plywood with chalkboard paint (both from Homebase), then used white chalk to draw our Christmas tree, and hung our biscuits on it using drawing pins. If you put up your real tree early enough, you could hang them from there, or tie the biscuits on a long string and hang along a wall.
Have you ever made your own edible Advent calendar? Share your ideas with us below...