Instructions

  1. To make the cookies: Combine the sugar, butter, egg yolk, salt, and flavor, beating until smooth. Add the flour, mixing until smooth. The mixture will seem dry at first, but will suddenly come together. If it doesn't, dribble in a tablespoon of water.

  2. Divide the dough in half, shape each half into a flattened disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours, or overnight. When you're ready to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let it soften for about 20 to 30 minutes, until it feels soft enough to roll. It should still feel cold, but shouldn't feel rock-hard.

  3. Sprinkle your rolling surface with flour, and flour your rolling pin. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it 1/8" to 3/16" thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut shapes. Re-roll and cut the dough scraps. Place the cookies on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets. They can be close together; they'll barely spread.

  4. Bake the cookies in a preheated 350°F oven for 12 to 14 minutes, until they're set and barely browned around the edges.

  5. Remove the cookies from the oven, and cool right on the pan. If you've used parchment, you can lift cookies and parchment off the pan, so you can continue to use the pan as the cookies cool.

  6. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough, rolling, cutting, and baking cookies. When cookies are completely cool, ice and decorate.

  7. To make the icing: Combine the sugar, milk, and corn syrup to make a soft, spreadable icing, adding more milk if necessary. Tint the icing with food color as desired.

  8. Spread icing on the cookies, using a knife, a spoon, or your finger to spread it all the way to the edges. Sprinkle with colored sugar or other sugar decorations, as desired. Allow the icing to harden before storing the cookies.

Tips from our Bakers

  • If you use unsalted butter, increase the amount of salt in the recipe to 1 teaspoon.
  • To flavor cookies in alternate ways, try 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or 1 teaspoon almond extract, or a combination. For extra-strong flavors (eggnog, butter rum, etc.), start with 1/8 teaspoon, and flavor to taste.
  • If you use our Gluten-Free Measure for Measure Flour, bake the cookies for the longer amount of time recommended. Gluten-free baked goods typically need to extend their time in the oven a bit in order to bake fully.

  • To top cookies with colored sugar before baking (no icing necessary), reserve the egg white from the yolk you've used in the dough. Mix the white with 1 tablespoon water. Lightly paint the cookies with the egg white/water, sprinkle with colored sugar, and bake.
  • This glaze is a little on the thick side, and it isn't perfectly smooth when you apply it, but should settle into a smooth surface within half a minute or so. Glaze one cookie and set it aside for a minute. Has the glaze settled into a smooth surface? If so, it's the right consistency. Remember, it's easier to add more liquid than to stir in more sugar, so start with a glaze that's thicker than you think it should be, then add milk little by little to adjust the consistency.