christmas chocolate biscuits

December 19, 2011

Again with the “biscuits” instead of cookies. Am I making you cross-eyed yet? The thing is that I’ve adapted to so many Americanisms since moving to this side of the pond but Christmas is stuck in my bones. It’s what I grew up with. I can let go of some things, but Christmas chocolate biscuits with festive sprinkles is not one of them.

These are super simple to make and as Nigella says, meltingly gorgeous to eat. They’re dark, soft pillows of chocolate shortbread – thicker than any cookie or biscuit you’ll have had in a while and so very, very chocolate-y – I love them.

Brits call this kind of topping to a biscuit/cookie “icing”. There’s no butter involved as with American frosting, instead it’s usually made with icing/confectioner’s sugar and boiling water. It’s still a very sweet topping but less rich and of a thinner consistency. Quite delightful really.

Add a bit of a Christmas joy to your life with all those multi-coloured sprinkles and you’re good to go. Merry, merry!

Christmas Chocolate Biscuits
from Nigella Lawson


  • 250g / 8.8oz soft butter
  • 150g caster sugar / 5.3oz white sugar
  • 40g / 1.4oz cocoa powder, sifted
  • 300g plain flour / 10.6oz all purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda /baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

For the topping:

  • 2 x 15ml tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
  • 175g icing sugar / 6.2oz confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 60ml/ 2fl oz boiling water, from a kettle
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Christmas sprinkles


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/350F and line a baking sheet with a Silpat or baking parchment.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until the mixture is soft and light. Add the cocoa powder and mix in. Add the flour, baking soda, and baking powder and beat again until incorporated.
  3. Scoop up pieces of dough about the size of a large walnut and roll them into balls, then slightly flatten into fat discs placing them well spaced on your baking sheet; you should get about 12 on at a time.
  4. Bake for 15 minutes (they might not look baked through but they’ll continue to cook as they cool). Remove the baking sheet to a cold surface and let it sit for 15 minutes before transferring the biscuits to a wire rack, with a sheet of newspaper under it (to catch drips while topping them).

To make the topping:

  1. Put the cocoa powder, icing sugar, water and vanilla extract into a small saucepan and whisk over a low heat until everything’s smoothly combined. Take off the heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
  2. When the biscuits are cool, drizzle each one with a tablespoonful of chocolate glaze  using the back of the spoon to help spread the mixture, though an uneven dribbly look is part of their charm.
  3. After you’ve iced 6 biscuits, scatter with some of the Christmas sprinkles, and continue until all the biscuits are topped. If you ice them all before sprinkling, you will find the cocoa “glue” has dried and the sprinkles won’t stick on. Makes approx. 24.

Note: As I mentioned on this post, British measurements are listed first with American adaptations second. If you don’t own a measuring scale I highly recommend buying a cheap digital one so that you can weigh ingredients accurately for baking. Most have the option for grams and ounces. Here’s a reasonably priced option. Also, the argument for using a scale :)

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathryn December 19, 2011 at 9:00 am

Hurrah for proper chocolate biscuits! You make them look so elegant too. You can’t beat Nigella at this time of year, she’s just the best at festive goodies.


Angharad December 19, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I so agree about Nigella! I love her Christmas specials. She’s such a shimmy-er. Shimmying across the screen in sparkly cardis talking about “meltingly gorgeous” this and “toothsome” that. LOVE.


Em (Wine and Butter) December 19, 2011 at 12:56 pm

Yum!! I always think I’m not that into biscuits – which basically a massive misinterpretation of the fact that I’m REALLY into soft baked cookies. Ive also recently discovered homemade biscuits are VERY different to shop bought custard cremes etc.
These look so pretty!!!


Deanna December 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm

I feel I need to go to Europe to experience a truly magical Christmas. Or at least somewhere with snow. Since that’s not happening this year, these cookies will suffice.


Angharad December 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Cookies are a great alternative to snow! Trust me, this is my fifth Minnesota Christmas and the first with not a snow flake on the ground. Cookies make up for a lot!


Jean | Delightful Repast December 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Angharad, I’m sure Nigella would be pleased with how well you made the chocolate biscuits and would no doubt tell you they are both “meltingly gorgeous” and “toothsome”! I would pair them with a good strong English breakfast tea with just a splash of milk.


Angharad December 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Jean, you are a woman after my own heart.


Marisa December 20, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Cookies or biscuits – these look darn good! And I am in such a cookie making mood right now. Trouble is that I have a really difficult time restraining myself from baking way too many! There are just too many great recipes. Just finished making a new recipe for German Spekulatius cookies and they are really yummy.

Do you have plans for making any other Christmas cookies?


Angharad December 20, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Hi Marisa! I haven’t got plans to make any others although I am massively in the mood for baking. There’s such a glut of sweets and stuff at my office that it’s sadly putting me off creating any more. The German Spekulatius sound awesome!


Danielle December 7, 2014 at 8:47 pm

I made these with oat flour and they turned out great. The frosting was beautiful with the sprinkles they looked wet but were completely hard. Thanks for the recipe, super easy and fun.


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