The kids devoured these cookies!
They have a fantastic texture; light and tender, soft but not chewy. For that reason alone, I will make them again. Still, I think the recipe will require a few alterations when I make it next time. For starters, I thought the cookies were just a touch too salty. Next time I will use unsalted butter. I also had trouble with the frosting. It is a meringue, "flow" icing that I've not worked with before. When I make these again, I will add a little almond extract to it for flavor, and will use a small pastry paint brush to decorate the cookies. I think the cookies will taste...and look...much better next time.
UPDATED 12/26/07: I made another batch of these cookies with the changes mentioned above. The cookies were a lot better using unsalted butter, so that's the way I'll make these from now on. The almond extract didn't hurt anything, and using a paint brush to apply it was a lot easier, but I still don't like this icing (think yucky Pop-Tart icing). I will probably use butter cream cake frosting when I make these cookies again.
Soft Cut-Out Cookies
1 cup butter, softened (I recommend unsalted butter)
1-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2-1/2 cups self-rising flour*
In large mixer bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually add flour. Divide dough in half, then cover and chill for 2 hours or until easy to handle.
Heat oven to 375°. On lightly floured surface, roll out one portion of dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut with floured cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased (preferably parchment-lined) cookie sheet. Bake at 375° for 5-7 minutes or until set. Cool for 2 minutes on pan before transferring to cooling racks to cool completely.
Repeat with remaining dough.
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup water (I recommend 1 teaspoon almond or vanilla extract plus enough water to make 1/4 cup)
4 teaspoons meringue powder**
1/4 cup light corn syrup
food colorings of choice
In a small mixing bowl, beat powdered sugar, water and meringue powder on low speed just until combined. Beat on high for 4 minutes or until soft peaks form. Add corn syrup and beat for an additional minute.
Tint with food coloring of your choice. Cover frosting with plastic wrap between uses. Spread or pipe frosting onto cookies, allowing to stand until frosting is set (this can take several hours if frosting is applied heavily).
* If you do not have self-rising flour, substitute as follows: Place 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a one cup measure. Add enough all-purpose flour to make 1 full cup.
** Meringue powder is available in the cake decorating section of your favorite discount or hobby store.