These are similar to Christmas cookies that my mother used to make.
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Assorted candies, sprinkles, or colored sugars, for decorating (optional)
1. In large bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla.
3. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; beat until combined.
4. Divide dough in half; flatten into disks. Wrap each in plastic; freeze until firm, at least 20 minutes, or place in a re-sealable plastic bag, and freeze up to 3 months (thaw in refrigerator overnight).
5. Preheat oven to 325°. Line baking sheets with parchment.
6. Remove one dough disk; let stand 5 to 10 minutes. Roll out 1/8 inch thick between two sheets of floured parchment, dusting dough with flour as needed.
7. Cut shapes with cookie cutters. Using a spatula, transfer to prepared baking sheets. (If dough gets soft, chill 10 minutes.) Reroll scraps; cut shapes. Repeat with remaining dough.
8. Bake, rotating halfway through, until edges are golden, 10 to 18 minutes (depending on size). Cool completely on wire racks.
9. To ice cookies, spread with the back of a spoon. Let the icing harden, about 20 minutes. Decorate as desired.
10. To make icing, sift 1 1/2 cups confectioners¿ sugar into a small bowl. Whisk in 3 to 4 tablespoons milk, water, or lemon juice, 1 tablespoon at a time, until smooth and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. If too thin, whisk in more sugar; if too thick, add more liquid.
Serving: makes 32 cookies
Photo: Sugar Cookies by Simply_Happy on Flickr. Aren't this great?