Monday, 29 July 2013

Recipe: Home made iced gems

Home made shortbread iced gems, as made by EJ
It's been a while since I've shared a recipe here! But you'll be pleased to know there are quite a few in development at the moment :)

This one really was just done on a whim, iced gems nostalgically popped into my head the other day and I wondered why I had never made my own version. I've deviated from the traditional biscuit base and replaced it with melt-in-the-mouth shortbread. Making your own versions of commercial food should always be about making them better (and for me, pretty much nothing beats this shortbread) :) But if you wanted to go for a more traditional base, I think my sugar cookie recipe would be a good fit.

I used a 2.5cm round cutter, making these little biscuits a slightly larger version of their inspiration, I've decided this is actually the perfect size for my melting shortbread, as larger biscuits can be very fragile. The base is made of my favourite shortbread recipe, which is velvety and luxurious - and very moreish. I believe it's the inclusion of cornflour that makes the texture of this shortbread so delicate and light. As with all of my biscuit recipes, I chill the cut shapes before baking. Due to the high proportion of butter in the recipe, you might find it useful to chill the dough before rolling it out as well (especially if you are making these on a hot day). I've realised that to get the best results from this, the dough needs to be rolled out in batches - and be careful re-roll as little as possible. Each time you re-form and re-roll the mixture, it inevitably takes on a little more flour, which will change the consistency - so I'd recommend splitting the dough into four separate batches before rolling it out.

Home made iced gems, as made by EJ
Makes approximately 72 shortbread iced gem biscuits.

For the shortbread:
175g lightly salted butter (soft at room temperature)
55g caster sugar
135g cornflour
140g plain flour

For the icing:
335g royal icing sugar
30ml water
One drop of each of the following gel food colours:

Cutters and nozzles:
JEM closed star nozzle no. 30
2.5cm round cutter


1. Line three baking trays with very lightly oiled baking paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar together.

3. Sift in the cornflour and plain flour and gently mix until it forms into a soft dough.

4. Generously dust a clean work surface with plain flour and roll out 1/4 of the dough to a thickness of 4-5mm.

5. Use the 2.5cm round cutter to cut out tiny biscuits and arrange on the baking trays, leaving approximately 1cm space between each.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 with the remaining dough.

7. Pre heat the oven to 150C (fan) and chill the trays of cookies for approximately 15-20 minutes (while the oven is pre-heating).

8. Bake the shortbread for approximately 10 minutes - the biscuits should remain pale. To test if they're done, gently press down with a finger, the shortbread should depress a little but give some resistance.

9. The shortbread will be fragile when you remove it from the oven, so leave to cool on the trays for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Iced-gems, close up!
To prepare the royal icing and decorate:

1. Sift the icing sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer, add the water a few drops at a time while mixing on a low setting, until the icing forms stiff peaks.

2. Split the icing between four bowls. Use a cocktail stick to add a tiny drop of the gel food colouring to three of the bowls. To keep the colours a traditional pastel shade, you won't meed more than the very tip of the cocktail stick dipped into the gel colouring.

4. Prepare four piping bags with a JEM closed star nozzle (no.30) - you'll be piping each colour onto 18 biscuits. To pipe the traditional iced gem ruffle, hold the nozzle directly above the biscuit and apply pressure, allowing the icing to spread sideways as you slowly raise the nozzle upwards. To finish the ruffle, remove pressure from the bag and dip the nozzle down a little before pulling sharply upwards - this should give you a nice point on top.

5. Leave the icing to set for a few hours until completely hard - then they are ready to enjoy :)  


  1. these are adorable and sound yummy too!

    1. Thanks Dina! We have almost eaten all 72 of them already... they are exceptionally moreish :)

  2. Hi these look fab, how long will they keep! thank you

    1. Thank you - they were lovely to make. We kept ours in a sealed tupperware for about a week.