the dough has to sit in the fridge for at least an hour before rolling out so don't forget to work this into your timing if you are making them last minute...I have a number of recipes for these cookies, but the one I have used the most is from Joy of Baking, which makes 36 cookies.
490g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
227g unsalted butter, room temperature
300g granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
1. In a large bowl sift together the flour, salt and baking powder
2. With an electric mixer or hand mixer cream the softened butter and add the sugar, beat for a further 3 minutes
3. Add the eggs ad vanilla gradually and incorporate fully
4. Slowly add the dry mix on a low speed and beat until you have a smooth dough - it may seem quite sticky, this is fine, leave it for a minute then halve it and wrap in cling film, chill in the fridge for at least one hour. If you have time then you can make the dough a day in advance a leave overnight.
5. Preheat the oven to 176C/350F...though as mine is craaaazy hot I put it at 170C, with the racks in the centre of the oven. Line two baking trays with baking paper (I just bought two silicone baking mats, which are awesome! and save me soooooo much paper, and I am a tree fan)
6. Remove one half of the dough from the fridge, and on a lightly floured surface, roll out to just under 1cm (I do mine about 5-8mm and they are fine, I find 1cm a touch big).
7. Using your cookie cutter of choice cut out shapes from the dough, if you flour the cutter you may find this easier, and transfer to the baking sheets.
8. Bake the cookies for 10mins - or until just starting to lightly brown on the edges - then transfer to a cooling rack. Once all the first half of the dough is used, get the second out and repeat - this keeps the dough all nice and cool while you do the first batch.
9. Ice the cookies as you wish...For the market I made up some simple red and blue icings; icing sugar, a few drops of dye and then dribbles of water til it reaches a decent spreading consistency. For the hearts I made an undyed icing with icing sugar and water, the rolled the edges of the hearts in pink granulated sugar (just drip a drop of dye into some sugar and mix it all about!)...
and for halloween, little pumpkin shaped goodies for the mini-trick or treaters that visit each year...