Iced Gems 糖霜饼干

Remember these cutesy little biscuits that we used to buy from the neighbourhood provision stores (杂货店) when we were kids? They were usually packed in glass or tin canisters and sold by the weight. I didn't know what they were called; I simply pointed and told the store owner how much I wanted. Then I would eagerly open the packet and munched off the sugary top first, followed by the bottom cookie or sometimes just ditched left the cookies for my mum to eat :p Those were the days :) How nostalgic!

It's only when I started baking and searched around for recipes I learnt that they are called Iced Gems or Fancy Gems Biscuits. Now commercially packets are sold by Khong Guan Biscuits and Jacobs, but I think some old school provision shops still sell them by weight. Initially I thought this pretty little cookie is unique to Singapore, but after researching, I realised they were first made in the 1850s (the biscuit part) by British biscuit manufacturers (read the history from here and here)!

Anyways, I have bookmarked a few recipes for a long time now and finally gotten down to make it because I got into the SCS Dairy Singapore Star Baker Challenge (Round 2) and the theme is Cookies :) This is the best opportunity to test a new recipe! The recipes I found are quite similar to one another, so I just adapted accordingly.

So basically there are 2 parts: the butter cookie bottom using plain flour, unsalted butter, egg, sugar, golden syrup and salt (some recipes call for corn flour, milk, baking powder) and the royal icing top using meringue powder, icing sugar and water. Alternatively, instead of using meringue powder, use raw egg whites, icing sugar and water, or store-bought royal icing sugar with water. I'm concern about using raw egg whites (actually pasteurized ones are okay to use) and also couldn't find royal icing sugar, therefore settled for meringue powder.

First, sift the flour (200g) with salt (1/8 tsp). Then add cold, cubed unsalted butter (100g). Use the fingers to press into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand.

Next, add the whole egg (60g type), caster sugar (80g, original is 100g) and golden syrup (1/2 Tbsp) into the mixture. Use a butter knife to mix all the ingredients into a dough. Do not use hands as the dough will be sticky. *sugar level can be further reduced.

Divide the dough into 2 portions. Place each portion in between 2 sheets of parchment/baking/cooking paper. Then roll using rolling pin until about 1/2 inch thickness. Place both portions into fridge to chill for at least 1hr.
Take out one portion of dough and stamp the biscuit into desired shapes. I used a mini flower stamp which is about 1.5cm in diameter. Alternatively, use the bigger part of a piping nozzle, mine is 1.5cm in diameter (if using nozzle, would need a toothpick to help push out the dough). After stamping, the remaining dough can be re-used, just repeat the previous steps and stick the dough back to the fridge until firm. Meanwhile, repeat with the other portion of dough. Keep repeating till all dough used up.

Place the stamped cookie dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper/silpat mat. Bake at 180 degree celsius (fan mode) for 8-9 minutes till golden brown. Let the biscuits cool down completely before piping the icing.

For the royal icing top first sift the icing sugar (290g) to get rid of lumps. Then mix the icing sugar, meringue powder (2 tbsp) and warm water (4 tbsp) in an electric mixer. If the mixer is heavy-duty, mix at low speed for 7-10 mins; if mixer is handheld, mix at high speed for 10-12 mins. *The original recipe calls for 300g of icing sugar but I had only 290g left. If wish to reduce sugar further, water must be reduced accordingly because the icing may become too runny and cannot pipe.

After mixing for 10 mins, the royal icing will turn from initial opaque to white (like photo). I got about 360g, and divided into 4 portions of 90g each (there will be excess which can be piped and eaten on its own!). Tint the icing according to desired colours, by picking up a little bit of colour using toothpick and then adjust shade accordingly.

Transfer the 4 coloured icing into piping bags and ready to use. Cover the nozzles with aluminum foil when not using to prevent the icing from drying.

The meringue powder and icing colours are both from Wilton. The nozzles used are 17, Wilton 20, Wilton 21 and 199 respectively.

Proceed to pipe the icing on top of the biscuits! It helps to hold the biscuit when piping because the icing is quite sticky.

Let the icing set/harden for at least 2-3 hrs. Placing the trays of biscuits in an air-con room might speed up the hardening process. I didn't and after 3hrs, due to the humidity, although the icing had set, the biscuit turned slightly soft. So I placed the trays into the oven for 15-20 mins (DO NOT bake/turn on the timer, just use the remaining heat from the oven if it's still hot OR turn temperature to about 100 degree celsius without turning on timer) and after taking out and cool down, the biscuits turned crunchy again.

Remember to store in airtight container (only after biscuit is cooled)!


The biscuit base is not exactly like the ones sold commercially, it's munchy and in fact tasted more buttery and fragrant which I like! The icing top is exactly the same, sugary sweet and very crunchy :)
When my kiddo saw these biscuits, he kept asking for more, going from colour to colour. In fact, he was grumbling why I didn't make it with him. And so I have promised to make another batch with him next week. I think it would be a fun project for kids, stamping the dough, mixing the colours and piping the icing!


Iced Gems 糖霜饼干
(Yields about 180-185 biscuits)
(recipe references: Beverly Glock, Culinary Kitchenette, Cakes and Catwalks, Cherry on a Cake)

Biscuit base
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1/8 tsp fine salt
  • 100g unsalted butter, cubed, cold
  • 80g caster sugar (original 100g)
  • 1 whole egg (weighs 60g with shell)
  • 1/2 Tbsp golden syrup
Steps
  1. Sift the flour with salt. Then add the unsalted butter. Use the fingers to press the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
  2. Next, add the caster sugar, egg and golden syrup into the mixture.
  3. Use a butter knife to mix all the ingredients into a dough.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 portions. Place each portion in between 2 sheets of parchment/baking/cooking paper. Then roll using rolling pin until about 1/2 inch thickness. Place both portions into fridge to chill for at least 1hr.
  5. Take out one portion of dough and stamp the biscuit into desired shapes. After stamping, the remaining dough can be re-used, just repeat step 4 and stick the dough back to the fridge until firm. Meanwhile, repeat with the other portion of dough. Keep repeating till all dough used up.
  6. Place the stamped cookie dough on a baking tray lined with baking paper/silpat mat. Bake at 180 degree celsius (fan mode) for 8-9 minutes till golden brown. Let the biscuits cool down completely before piping the icing.
Royal icing
  • 290g icing sugar, sifted (original 300g)
  • 2 tbsp meringue powder
  • 4 tbsp warm water
Steps
  1. Mix the icing sugar, meringue powder and warm water in an electric mixer. If the mixer is heavy-duty, mix at low speed for 7-10 mins; if mixer is handheld, mix at high speed for 10-12 mins.
  2. The royal icing will turn from initial opaque to white (like photo).
  3. Divide the icing into desired portions and tint with colours accordingly.
  4. Transfer the coloured icing into piping bags and pipe onto the biscuit base
  5. Let the icing set/harden for at least 2-3 hrs. If the biscuits turned slightly soft, place them into the oven for 15-20 mins (DO NOT bake/turn on the timer, just use the remaining heat from the oven if it's still hot OR turn temperature to about 100 degree celsius without turning on timer).
  6. Let the biscuits cool down completely and store in airtight container.


So as I was saying, I will be submitting this photo to the SCS Dairy Singapore Star Baker Challenge :) Hopefully I can be selected for Round 3! Wish me luck!



6 comments:

Wendy said...

Thank you very much for sharing the recipe. You will get into round 3. All the best to you.

Jozelyn Ng said...

This cookies remind me that during child hood...i love this kind of "tou chi bing"...I was just thinking about this cookies few days ago...really miss them!
Thanks for sharing with LTU!

daydreamer said...

Thanks Wendy :) Crossing my fingers :p

daydreamer said...

Hi Jozelyn,
Thanks :) Yep, it reminds me of those innocent carefree times when we were young!

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