Are there any biscuits as pretty as iced gems? The pastel hued crunchy iced top immediately draws the eye and nothing compliments a tea party more (whether real or for dolls) than a saucer full of these pretty little gems. I’ve always noticed my daughters looking on, with a hint of envy, when they’ve seen friends devouring these colourful little morsels – anything that pretty surely must taste divine too! I’d always though a recreation would not be possible as royal icing was way out of my grasp – that was until aquafaba came along, and suddenly an icing that properly hardens was possible. I played with and tweaked a recipe after trying a few versions that are on the community Facebook page ‘vegan meringues, hits and misses’ and came up with a version that I was happy with, both taste and consistency-wise. The key to a good iced gem is to pipe the tops first onto baking parchment and let them fully dry for about 24 hours before sticking them to the top of the little shortbread cookies, then the effect will be just right. If you are happy for the icing to remain soft inside then pipe away, straight onto the mini- shortbread biscuits. I have to say I was mighty pleased with the results – they are even prettier than I imagined (hence the overload of photos) and have been declared ‘heavenly’ so I think these may have to feature quite heavily in upcoming birthday party teas!
Iced Gem Biscuits
(dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, soya-free, sesame-free, vegetarian and vegan)
for the shortbread:
225g plain flour
75g caster sugar
150g dairy-free margarine (I used Pure sunflower)
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped out or 1 tsp vanilla extract
50g granulated sugar, to sprinkle
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade/Gas Mark 4. Line a baking sheet with parchment
- Sift the flour into a bowl and stir in the sugar and vanilla. Add the dairy-free spread and rub in with fingers. Once it starts to combine, bring together to form a soft dough.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1cm thickness. Cut into tiny little circles.
- Place on the lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Then turn the baking sheet round and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Once the shortbread is golden brown remove from oven. Cool on the baking sheet, then move to a wire rack.
for the royal icing:
4 tbsps aquafaba (water from a tin of beans or chickpeas)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
4 cups icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
food colouring as desired
- In a stand mixer, or an electric whisk, whisk together all the ingredients until a smooth thick paste is created.
- Colour as desired. I split the mixture into three, and then coloured each with natural food colouring.
- Using a closed star nozzle pipe individual flowers onto lined baking sheets and leave in a cool dry place to harden. It will take up to 24 hours.
- Using a think water icing, attach the flower tops to each mini shortbread circle. Leave to set.
- These keep beautifully for at least 1 week.