You can frost these using the royal icing recipe below or you can use baking sugar to decorate them before baking. The sugar is definitely easier, but the icing is nice if you're looking for an art project.
- 1/3 c. butter
- 1/3 c. shortening (I like the Crisco sticks - they're easier to measure)
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- 1 egg
- 4 Tbsp. milk
- 2 c. flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. salt (table salt - double this volume if you are using coarse kosher)
Add egg, beat until light and fluffy.
Sift together dry ingredients. On low speed, blend dry ingredients into creamed mixture alternating with milk.
Chill at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375.
On a *well* floured board, roll to about 1/8th inch thickness. Don't try to move the dough around like a pie crust. It's going to stick to the surface a little bit, and that's okay.
Cut with cookie cutters (decorate with sugars, non-pareils, etc.). Use a spatula to move the cookies from the work surface to a parchment lined cookie sheet. You can leave the cutters on until the cookies are on the sheet to help protect them as well. (The cookie cutter idea is a great tip from Good Eats!) If you don't have parchment paper, you can go with a basic ungreased cookie sheet - just let the cookies cool on the sheet for a couple of minutes before moving them to cooling racks.
Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until bottoms are just starting to brown. The tops of these cookies will stay very pale.
If you want to ice your cookies, let them cool completely on wire racks.
Here is the royal icing recipe that I use. It has to be really stiff in order to do the outlines on the cookies, and then a bit thinner to "flood" the centers: Martha's Royal Icing. If it's too thin to start with, you can add more powdered sugar. Some people think this messes with the taste of the icing, but it's icing. It tastes like sugar.