Home-Made “Iced Gems”

This is my take on the classic biscuit snack, Iced Ggem. These are small, oval-shaped cookie that have some sort of hardened sugar icing on top, which are the “gems. The gems came in different colors like blue, pink, green, yellow, and white. As a kid, I had these in school. I ate the cookies and reserved the gems for later. Your tongue ended up with the color of the gem that you ate.

In this version, instead of the crunchy cookie base, I made a short cake cookie. Shortbread cookies, from what I read, usually use white or confectioner’s sugar. I like the flavor and the chewiness that brown guar brings, so that’s what I used. Some shortbread cookies do not have eggs, but I added egg yolks to the cookie dough.

This was the first time I made these, so bear with me if I made a lot of technical mistakes. 😊

You will need:

225 grams cold butter

3 cups of flour

4 egg yolks

1 ½ cups brown sugar

Vanilla extract

The zest of 1 lemon

4 egg whites (1/4 cup)

1/8 teaspoon Cream of tartar

½ cup white sugar


Make the Cookie:

  1. Combine the flour and the cold butter, using your hands, until it forms a sand-like texture. Set aside.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar together. Add the lemon zest and the vanilla, then whisk again.
  3. Add the egg mixture to the flour and butter. Form into a dough.
  4. Cover with parchment paper and chill for at least 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, roll the dough into about ½ of an inch thick in between 2 layers of parchment paper.
  6. Mold using an oval cutter. Place on a baking pan lined with parchment paper.
  7. Dock the oval cookies with a fork. Chill for an additional 30 minutes.
  8. Bake in a pre-heated 200-degree Fahrenheit oven for about 10 – 12 minutes.
  9. Set aside to cool before taking them off the pan.

Make the “gem”:

  1. In a metal bowl, whisk the egg whites, white sugar, and cream of tartar.
  2. Put the egg white mixture on top of a pot of simmering water. Make sure that the bottom of the bowl is not touching the water.
  3. When the sugar is dissolved, remove from the heat and continue whisking using an electric hand mixer (high speed).
  4. Whisk until it forms stiff peaks. This takes about 5 minutes or so.

Put them together:

  1. Place the icing on a piping bag with a star tip.
  2. Ice the cookies by making sure that the start tip touches the cookie, pres once, and pull up quickly. Repeat until all the cookies are iced.
  3. Chill in the fridge to let the icing set. Or you can eat this right away.


The dough needs to be cold, so you can work well with it. And because it is summer here, I had to re-chill the dough several times. I had to work quickly; the dough sticks a lot when it is warm.

The cookies do not expand or spread out when you bake them, so it was alright to not leave a lot of space in between them.

I was really nervous about the icing; I thought that I would not achieve the stiff peak phase because it was taking a while for it to fluff up.

The house smelled like butter, lemon and vanilla while the cookies were baking. 😊

This recipe made heaps of iced gem cookies. You can divide the recipe in half if you want fewer cookies. You can add food coloring to the icing, because the “gems” in the Iced Gem cookies have different colors. I just did not want to add any coloring to the icing, and I preferred the white gems. 😊

Here’s how many cookies we made, not including the ones we already ate:

Just divide the recipe in half, or store the unused dough in the freezer, form into a log, an wrap in cling film and parchment paper. Just slice them when you are ready to bake.

Until my next cooking adventure! Cheers!


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