1 cup (227 g) butter or margarine, softened
2 cups (450 g) granulated sugar
2-4 Tablespoons (30-60 ml or about 1/4 cup) milk, divided
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
5 cups (575 g) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons (20 ml) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) salt
(colored sugar, nuts & candied fruit for decorating as desired)
In large bowl, beat butter & sugar til light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 2 Tbsp of the milk and the vanilla til smooth. In another large bowl, mix flour, baking powder and salt til light and thoroughly combined. Gradually beat flour mixture into butter mixture. If dough seems dry add another tablespoon or 2 of milk. Gather dough into a ball and divide into 8 parts. Wrap each part in plastic wrap and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight. The dough may also be frozen and later thawed in the fridge.
When ready to bake, remove dough from fridge one package at a time. Preheat oven to 350*F. With floured rolling pin, roll dough to 1/8 " thickness on a generously floured board. (*I find that if I flour the board, then sprinkle the top of the dough with a bit of flour and roll the dough with a piece of waxed paper between the dough and the rolling pin that I don't need as much flour and the cookies are lighter) Cut dough into desired shapes, transferring to a lightly greased baking sheet. Re-roll and cut scraps. Decorate cookies on baking sheet with colored sugar, nuts, candied fruit or sprinkles before baking, or decorate with icing when baked and cooled. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or til lightly browned. Transfer to baking racks to cool. Store in tightly covered container for 2-3 weeks.
Each ball makes about a dozen cookies, depending on the size and thickness of the cookies.
-It's easy to make half or a quarter recipe, if 8 dozen cookies overwhelms you, however the dough is also very freezable, so you can make up the whole recipe and put the plastic wrapped dough that you don't want to bake into a freezer bag and toss it in the freezer. To enjoy fresh cookies all season, just thaw the frozen dough in the fridge and roll and bake as directed.
-I use this same recipe for Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick's Day- don't be deceived by the name; they're excellent Sugar Cookies, not just for Christmas.
-As each of my children started school, I made it a special project to bring cookies to their Kindergarten class once. I used this recipe then made giant round cookies (I think I used a large margarine lid... I'm sure they weren't the size of an ice-cream pail lid!) Then I iced them and personalized the cookies, one for each child, using a contrasting color of icing to print his/ her name. Sometimes I did them for Halloween'en, and put a pumpkin candy on each one beside the name, maybe once at my child's birthday, but it was always an exciting treat. Children love to see their name on things, and are at an age when many of them are just learning to print their own name. It was while doing Kindergarten cookies that I discovered that "Christopher" may well be the longest name in North America!