This is a thin, tasty cookie that’s strong enough to handle being decorated. Makes about 45 medium-sized cookies.

1 cup sugar
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 tsp clear vanilla
food coloring (if desired)
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp Cream of Tartar
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400 ̊ F.

Cream 1 cup sugar and 2 sticks unsalted butter (it’s better if the butter is on the cold side– not straight from the fridge, but not up to room temperature).
Beat in 2 eggs, 2 tsp clear vanilla, and food coloring (if desired).
Stir in 3 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 2 tsp Cream of Tartar, and ½ tsp salt. (The dough should be the consistency of modeling clay.)

Roll out thin, on a lightly floured surface, no more than 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies. This dough gets icky after the second rolling, so be extra careful to tessellate the shapes as much as possible so you minimize the scraps. (When I’ve gotten all the cookies I can out of the second rolling, I take the scraps and shove them together into shapes roughly the same size as the other cookies on that sheet, and I bake them.)

Place the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet, spaced about a centimeter apart to allow for the slight spreading. Bake for eight minutes. When you take them out, quickly remove them from the cookie sheet to a cooling rack, so they don’t start sticking to the sheet.

Frost when completely cool.


Warning: The good news: this sweet frosting dries hard on top (good for stacking and transport) while staying soft inside. The bad news: When wet, this frosting behaves as a non-Newtonian fluid (e.g., oobleck), which means when you press the frosting down on the cookie, it suddenly turns from a drippy liquid to a thick, dry paste, and when you remove the pressure, it turns drippy again. The best way I’ve found to deal with this is to make the frosting a little thinner (more liquid) than you think you want. Other bad news: Because it dries so quickly, you need to work fast. Have everything ready to go (sprinkles, cooled cookies, spreading utensil, a place to set out all the frosted cookies) before you start mixing the ingredients. Better yet, have a helper to put on the sprinkles immediately after you finish frosting a cookie.

4 cups powdered sugar (measured by volume, not by weight)
3-4 TB milk (not skim; 1% works well)
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 tsp clear vanilla

Beat all ingredients until smooth. Spread on cookies, and immediately sprinkle any decorations you want on top. (If you wait more than a minute or two, the sprinkles won’t stick.)

This frosting is dry to a light touch in about 10 minutes. In about 30 minutes, it’s dry enough to stack the frosted cookies.