"Scare your friends with these delicious treats made from gingerbread and decorated to look like mummies, ghosts and skeletons. They’ll thank you for it later."
Set the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Stir the flour, ginger, bicarb and salt together in a large bowl.
Tip the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup into a pan. Heat gently on the hob until melted (this is a job for a grown up) then leave to cool until still a little warm but not hot.
Pour the mixture into the flour bowl and mix until you have an even dough with no white bits. Wrap in cling film and chill for an hour until firm. You can chill overnight if you wish, just take it out an hour (might take as little as half an hour on hot days) before rolling so that it has time to soften again.
Cut the dough into thirds and keep the spare thirds wrapped while you work with the first one. Roll out on a floured surface to about half a centimetre (a quarter inch) thick. Cut out as many gingerbread men as you can.
To avoid breaking or squashing your shapes, it’s easiest to pull away the excess before you lift your gingerbread men. Transfer them to a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.
Gather the offcuts up into a ball, roll out and repeat until you’ve used up all of your dough. Repeat the process with the next third of dough. With the final third, roll out the dough, then cut out your gingerbread men with the legs of the cutter placed past the edge of the dough. This will give you your ghost shapes!
When you’re ready to bake, place your gingerbread in the oven for 10-12 minutes until a gorgeous golden colour. You’ll probably have to bake them in batches.
Allow to cool on the tray for a moment, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
To decorate, put the icing sugar, cream of tartar and egg whites in a large bowl and whisk until light and glossy. Add the water and beat again until you have a royal icing that’s just perfect for decorating. Transfer your icing to a large piping bag, and snip the very end off your bag to create a small opening.
You can decorate your cookies in any way you like, but for a spooky effect, feel free to copy the designs shown here to create skeletons, ghosts and mummies!
The mummies were the easiest, just whiz back and forth with the icing to create bandages.
The ghosts we achieved by tracing an outline just inside the edges of the cookie, and then piping two eyes and a long, ghoulish mouth.
The skeletons are the fiddliest, but quite easy to master after the first couple. Just take your time, starting with the skull, then draw in the spine, then the ribs and hips, then finish with bones for the arms and legs. I dotted on some toes too.
To finish, melt a couple of squares of dark chocolate in the microwave and use a toothpick to give the mummies’ eyes and to paint detail on to the skeletons’ faces.
Aren’t they great fun?