My 11-year-old nephew (Ricky) and 4-year-old niece (Ashlynne) came over this weekend. My nephew's favorite thing to do when visiting me is making sugar cookies. It's a little tradition he and I started when he was only about 4 years old himself. This was Ashlynne's first baking stint in my kitchen. She got the hang of it pretty quickly! Ricky showed her how to use the cookie cutters and decorate with colored sugars. Ricky is very 'meticulous' in his cookie decorating. He knows what colors he wants to use, even using dragees on a couple of his cookies. He likes to use alphabet cutters to spell out his name in cookie dough. Ashlynne used a few alphabet cookies to spell out part of her name, using more sugar than cookie dough on her creations! She also wanted to venture outside the alphabet world into shapes: hearts, flowers, and butterfly cookies (most of which broke before being photographed) . For all the rolling, cutting, and decorating they did, relatively few cookies survived the onslaught of raw cookie-dough-eating and baked cookie sampling before I could get any photos of their baking session finale:
1/2 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream butter and sugar in mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, thoroughly incorporating them into mixture until batter is smooth.
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture alternating with milk. Add vanilla and mix until well-combined. Wrap and chill the dough for at least 3 hours.
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Divide dough into thirds and roll out each section to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into desired shapes. Place on parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheets. If decorating with sugar, sprinkle on before baking. Bake until golden, about 8 - 12 minutes. Let cool on racks. If decorating with royal icing, bake as directed, cool thoroughly, and decorate with royal icing as desired.
Source: Martha Stewart