For the cookies, a little tweak of a Christmas cookie recipe - I left out the spices to make them a little more kid-friendly.
Adapted from a recipe for spiced Christmas tree cookies from the BBC Good Food Festive Collection 2011:
85g butter (softened)
250g all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons golden syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add egg, golden syrup and vanilla essence and continue mixing.
Sift flour, baking powder and salt and fold into to the butter mixture bit by bit, mixing well with a wooden spoon (or by kneading with your hands - the easier route, in my opinion).
Wrap the cookie dough with cling film and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (I let it sit in the fridge overnight).
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius
Roll out the dough (sandwich the dough between two pieces of cling film before rolling out with a rolling pin to avoid the dough sticking to everything) until about 2.5 mm thick, punch out shapes with the cookie cutters and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Place in the oven for about 7 minutes, or until cookies turn a light golden brown.
You can probably gather from this picture that I couldn't quite decide how I wanted to decorate the cookies. It was an evening of experimenting - piping vanilla glaze, piping green vanilla glaze, using the glaze as edible glue for rainbow stars, dusting with icing sugar. The works.
I finally decided, after making quite a mess, that I would stick to using good old chocolate glaze - melting half a bar of cooking chocolate with a teaspoon of butter, dusting the whole cookie with a thin, thin layer of icing sugar and dunking one half of each cookie in the glaze.
So they didn't turn out quite like I imagined them to be (pretty, pastel coloured) but they were still popular, especially with the kids. I think I'm going to start using golden syrup a lot more now - I love the slightly caramel-y flavour that it lends to everything.
Golden syrup and metal cookie cutters - I think I've found some new pals.
Also, if anyone knows a good alternative to royal icing, I'd be glad to hear from you.