Norah and I baked these after dinner on Thanksgiving and iced them today. These cookies are a lot of work and they make such a big mess, but I have to say, we finally found a recipe we all like, so much so that I think we may have only two cookies left out of the thirty we made about twenty four hours ago! I've included the recipe below, if you are interested. You can use other shapes and colors for different occasions, flowers for spring, stars for July 4th, etc.
Sugar Cookies for Cutouts
2/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
Beat butter with mixer on high for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, salt. Beat until combined. Now beat in egg, milk, vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Beat and/ or stir in flour. Divide dough in half. Chill for approx. 30 minutes for best results.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out half the dough until it is approx. 1/8 inch thick. Using cookie cutters, cut dough into desired shapes. Place them 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until cookies' edges are very lightly brown. *Bake times will vary based on the size of the cookies.
Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool before icing.
Powdered Sugar Icing
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp. vanilla
Approx. 1 tbsp. milk
1. Combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Stir in additional milk only 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until the icing is completely mixed.
2. Mix in food coloring now, if desired.
3. Drop icing into decorating bags, apply desired tips and pipe icing onto the cookies. Icing is the best consistency when it does not drip out of the tip on its own. If it is too runny, let it set some before beginning. But, the icing should not be so thick it won't come out with a little squeeze.
We made two batches of icing for the cookies shown above. One batch we died entirely green, the other batch we split and died yellow and brown. This is the first year I piped the icing onto the cookies and I liked the way they turned out.
In previous years, I tried to smear it onto the cookies with a decorating knife. But, to get the desired effect and keep the icing from going off the sides of the cookies, I knew from previous poor results that I had to bite the bullet and buy the icing bags and at least one decorating tip.
I bought a few tips this year, but ended up using only one of them: the tip with the tiniest round hole. I found that decorating cookies is a lot like coloring with markers. You outline the shape and then fill in its inside with color. And, the finer the point on the tip, the easier it is to control the details around the edges, just like with markers.