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Kim-Joy's cardamom, almond and honey bee cookies
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"BZZZZZZ these will make you bee-come an instant hit at parties, as they’re super cute but not cute enough not to be gobbled up! They look like they’re a bit of an effort to make (yet they’re so easy), so no one will think you’re winging it!" - Kim-Joy
Makes: about 30 cardamom cookies
Semolina Shortbread (see below for ingredients and method) plus 3⁄4 tsp ground cardamom (for the best flavour, finely grind the seeds in a spice grinder)
plain [all-purpose] flour, for dusting
75g [ ∕3 cup] butter, at room temperature (or vegetable shortening or coconut oil to make vegan)
125g [3⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp] icing [confectioners’] sugar
1⁄2 tsp vanilla bean paste 1–2 Tbsp milk or plant-based milk, to soften as necessary
1⁄2 quantity of Royal Icing (see below for ingredients and method)
black gel food dye
honey, or a thick maple syrup or agave syrup to make vegan
laked [slivered] almonds
yellow gel food dye
1. Line 2 baking sheets with baking paper.
2. Make the shortbread (see below), adding the cardamom along with the flour. Add a little yellow food dye to colour the shortbread, if you like.
3. Roll out the shortbread on a lightly floured surface to about 3mm [ in] thick, and use a 4-cm [11⁄2-in] diameter round cutter to stamp out about 60 cookies.
4. Place these on the prepared baking sheets and preferably chill in the fridge or freezer for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 180°C [350°F/Gas mark 4] and bake the cookies for 10–15 minutes until just starting to colour at the edges.
6. Meanwhile, make the buttercream. Put the butter and sugar in a large bowl, then cream together until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix. Add the milk to soften to a pipeable consistency, and mix well to create a fluffy buttercream.
7. When the cookies have finished baking, leave to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to finish cooling.
8. While the cookies are cooling, make the royal icing (see method below). Colour the royal icing black and transfer to a piping bag. Cut a small tip and set aside for later.
9. When the cookies have cooled, you are ready to sandwich them together and decorate. Pipe buttercream around the circumference of a cookie disc, then spoon in a little honey (or maple or agave syrup) in the centre. The buttercream will stop the honey leaking out! Repeat with half the discs, then sandwich with the other discs.
10. Pipe 3 black stripes on all the bees’ bodies. Place the piping bag into another piping bag, and cut a smaller tip to pipe the finer details of the eyes and mouth. Insert flaked almonds into the buttercream on the sides to create the bees’ wings.
Semolina shortbread recipe:
This dough can be rolled out thinly and used to cut out shapes, though you will need to take care, as it has a high fat-to-flour ratio and is a little more delicate. If you are new to working with cookie dough, use this only for simpler shapes.
200g [3⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp] salted butter
85g [7 Tbsp] caster or granulated sugar
200g [11⁄2 cups] plain [all-purpose] flour
70g [1⁄4 cup plus 2 Tbsp] fine semolina
1. Line a baking sheet with baking paper. Beat the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Add the flour and semolina and mix until just combined. The dough should be slightly sticky, but soft and easy to handle. If needed, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 10–15 minutes until firm enough to roll out.
2. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to about 3mm [ -in] thick. Use cutters or templates to cut out your desired shapes, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C [350°F/Gas mark 4].
3. Bake for 10–15 minutes until just lightly browned at the edges. Leave to cool for 10 minutes on the sheet, then gently transfer to a rack to finish cooling.
Royal icing recipe:
This makes enough for a decent number of cookies
40g [22∕3 Tbsp] egg white
210g [11⁄2 cups] icing [confectioners’] sugar,
plus extra egg white and icing [confectioners’] sugar to adjust and get the right consistency
Use a stand mixer (or handheld electric whisk) fitted with a balloon whisk attachment to combine the egg white and icing sugar until you get a smooth consistency. Then add tiny amounts of extra egg white and/or icing sugar to get the right consistency. Add food dye to colour as desired! That is it!