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This year, for my birthday (which was some months ago), Alexander spoiled me with the enormous Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. Not only that I’m also getting sent on a baking course at Vanilla Industries! That unfortunately has to wait until late June, as they are currently remodeling the bakery. So in the meantime, I am have been experimenting with Martha’s recipes.

I’ve never actually used any of her recipes as far as I know, and I have to admit I was quite intimidated by the big book, loaded with recipes and lovely pictures. Everything looking perfect. All the time reading recipes, I heard her very formal voice in my head. Eep!

My first attempt, sugar cookies, was a bit fat flop, although Alexander managed to save a lot of the cookie dough and managed to make some cookies. After that I attempted banana bread, which turned out much better and has since been adjusted into vegan banana cupcakes!

But my greatest success so far, and inspiration to continue experimenting, adjusting and learning from the great lady were icebox butter cookies.

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Preparing the dough was real easy, and fun. Plus the cookies came out nicely and I still have a log and a half of dough stored in the freezer!

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So to make these yummy butter cookies you need:

1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2.5 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sanding sugar or granulated sugar, for rolling

3/4 cup dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped

To make the cookies:

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Now add the flour, chocolate, nuts, and salt and mix till combined.

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and half it. Roll each piece into a log that’s about 1.5 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment paper, ensuring the ends are covered and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or more. To help the logs retain their shape, place them in empty paper towel tubes.

When you are ready to start baking, remove the dough from the fridge and preheat the oven to 175C, line a baking tray with parchment paper. Allow the dough to get soft enough to cut, not too soft though.

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Cut as much of the dough as you want to bake off. The rest can be kept in the fridge for up to three weeks and used as needed. Roll the logs in sanding sugar to coat and slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place 1 inch apart on the parchment paper.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown, rotating halfway. Let the cookies cool and serve.
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