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Sugar cookies

In my budding attempts at entertaining these are the baked goodie I always do. They are so versatile and a real crowd pleaser. They can be elegant and small, funny or topical depending on the cutter used and decoration added. This is the recipe I'm without doubt the most sentimental about as I have some great memories attached to it. I made them for my first Christmas party in our house, then my sons first birthday, followed by his second birthday, my daughters christening and on and on. Now I get asked to make them for other family 'do's'.

The first time I made them I was so stressed with my upcoming house warming / Christmas party that two of my friends came over and we made three batches of the them together and a couple of batches of mince pies. I love making these cookies. They are simple to make, they stay crispy so maintain their crunch and ice really well. They are great for using with shaped cookie cutters. If you chill the dough correctly they don't spread on the tray during cooking so hold their shape well.

300g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
230g vanilla sugar
230g butter
1 egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Start by baking the cookies. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Sieve the flour and baking powder together and put to one side. Cream the sugar and the room-temperature butter with an electric whisk. Add the egg and vanilla extract, and continue to whisk until everything is blended together. Gradually add the flour mixture, beating gently until it is all incorporated.

Roll the dough onto a floured board and use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. Lay out on greaseproof paper on baking sheets and bake for about 8 minutes. Leave the cooked cookies on the sheet for a few minutes to cool a little and firm up, then use a spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack.

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