~From Joy of Cooking, 1997 edition
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened*
- 2/3 c. sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 t. baking powder
- 1/8 t. salt*
- 1 1/2 t. vanilla
- 2 1/3 c. flour
- Beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
- Add egg, baking powder, salt, and vanilla; beat until well combined.
- Stir in flour until well blended and smooth (or keep using your mixer).
- Divide dough in half. Place each half between 2 large sheets of wax paper or parchment paper. Roll out to a scant 1/4 inch thick, checking the underside of the dough and smoothing any creases. Keeping the paper in place, layer the rolled dough on a baking sheet and refrigerate until cold and slightly firm but not hard, about 20-30 minutes.
- Position a rack in the upper third of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease baking sheets (unless using stoneware).
- Working with 1 portion of dough at a time (leave the other refrigerated), gently peel away and repalce 1 sheet of the paper. (This will make it easier to lift the cookies from the paper later.) Peel away and discard the second sheet. Cut out the cookies using 2- or 3-inch cutters. With a spatula, transfer them to the cookie sheets, spacing about 1-inch apart. Roll the dough scraps and continue cutting out cookies until all the dough is used; briefly refrigerate the dough if it becomes too soft to handle (this dough warms up quickly!). Lay extra shapes on lightly floured wax paper if your cookie sheets aren't big enough to hold all the cutouts from the initial layer. Leave other dough portion in refrigerator until you're finished with first.
- Sprinkle with decorator sugar if desired.
- Bake, 1 sheet at a time, just until the cookies are lightly colored on top and slighly darker at the edges, 6 to 9 minutes (or more); rotate the sheet halfway through baking for even browning. Remove sheet to a rack and let it stand until cookies firm slightly. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.**
~Makes 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 dozen 2 1/2 - 3 1/2- inch cookies