And now for a full proof sugar cookie recipe…

3 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1 cup butter
1 egg lightly beaten
3 tablespoons cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS 1. Preheat oven to 200ºC.
2. Sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.
3. Cut in the butter and blend with pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Stir in lightly beaten egg, vanilla and cream. Blend well. Chill dough for one hour for easier rolling.
4. On a floured surface, roll out dough to ¼ inch thickness. Cut out Hot Air Balloons using the template or a cookie cutter.
5. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes until lightly brown.
6. One batch makes 40 small cookies.
7. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 6- 8 minutes.
8. Allow to cool completely before icing.

4 egg whites
900g icing sugar
Food colouring – colours according to your theme

DIRECTIONS 1. Ensure your mixing bowl is scrupulously clean, and free of any traces of oil.
2. Whisk egg whites until soft peak stage, about 5 minutes. Add the icing sugar and continue whisking to form a thick smooth paste the consistency of toothpaste.
3. If not using immediately cover and refrigerate.
4. Mixture can be stored for a week in the fridge but will not be as thick as when first made.
5. To ice the biscuits, divide the royal icing into 4 equal amounts in smaller containers.
6. Add your choice of colour to the icing, add only a few drops at a time, and mix well before adding more.
7. Using a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle pipe the outline of each biscuit.
8. Fill in the colours with the remaining icing and use a small spatula to spread the icing evenly.
9. Allow to dry completely, overnight is best, before moving or packaging.

GOOD IDEA Pop the iced biscuits back in the oven, 150oC for 10 minutes to harden the icing.