The festive spirit is finally upon me! And it’s not because of an excess of mulled wine or an overdose of caroling.  

It’s because I’ve made Christmas cookies.  The house smells divine, all sugary.  If I wanted to I could have made holes in these little beauties, dusted them with cinnamon or allspice and put them up on the tree. 

But they’re too good not to eat.  Slightly crunchy on the outside, meltingly soft in the middle.   Ridiculously easy both to make and to eat.

Next stop, mince pies.  

For the cookies:

  • 150g icing sugar, sifted
  • 250g good baking margarine (you can use butter but honestly, you don’t need to)
  • 375g plain flour, sifted
  • 1tsp vanilla extract (please don’t use vanilla flavouring – horrid stuff)
  • 1 egg yolk

To decorate:

  • 170g icing sugar
  • 2tsp milk
  • Sugar balls

Cream the margarine and the sugar together until fluffy, then add the egg yolk along with the vanilla extract and beat in.  Fold in the flour – at which point it will look quite dry – but keep going and all of a sudden it will come together until you have a sticky dough.  Cover, and pop into the fridge for an hour at least (you can keep it in the fridge overnight, any more than that, double wrap it and find a space in the freezer).

Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 5 and line three trays with baking parchment.  Using icing sugar to lightly dust the surface, then roll out the dough until it is about 1cm thick.  Cut out using shapes or a knife, then bake for 12-14 minutes until lightly coloured. They do suddenly catch so if you think you can smell them, open the door and check!

Decorate with thin icing and scattered sugar balls, put the kettle on, sit down and taste… try to keep your hands off the rest of them!  Oh, and if you do want to put them on the tree, make a hole at the top of each shape before cooking to later thread a ribbon through (a straw is good for this).

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