Basic Sugar Cookies with Glaze
Depending on how large you make them, this recipe yields 3 to 4 dozen heart-shaped cookies. To get the maximum number of cookies, cut the cookies out as close to one another as possible. This is a very easy dough to work with. To get clean cuts and even sides, dip the cutters in flour before using, and don't wiggle the cutters as you press and remove them.
With an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg, vanilla, and salt until well combined. Gradually add flour, beating until combined. Flatten dough into a disk, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. (Dough can also be kept for 3 days in the refrigerator and brought to room temperature to roll. It can also be over wrapped in foil and frozen up to 3 months.)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly oiled foil. Working with half the dough at a time, roll out dough between pieces of very lightly floured parchment or pieces waxed paper to 1/8 inch thick (if you over flour, the cookies will be tough). Place cookies 1 inch apart on baking sheet and bake until set but not browned, 8 to 9 minutes. Cool 1 minute on baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.
MAKE GLAZE: Stir together sugar and liquid. It should be a spreadable consistency, but if it's too thick, add just a tiny bit more liquid (no more than 1/4 teaspoon at time) to loosen -- you'll be surprised at how little it takes. Color-wise you can leave it as is, sort of opaque white, or you can add a little food coloring.
To pipe icing: No need to go out and buy a pastry bag for cookie decorating, because a simple sealable plastic bag will work fine. Here's how: Place bag in a tall glass or a measuring cup so it stands upright. Fold the top over and then fill the bag halfway with icing. Squeeze out any air, then with a pair of scissors, snip a small bit (no more than 1/4 inch) off one of the bottom corners of the bag. (Don't make it large, as the icing will just slip through.) When working with the bag, hold it in one hand at a slight angle and squeeze out the icing gently, but steadily. An easy alternative to the bag is a plastic squeeze bottle (the type some restaurants use for ketchup or mustard).
To create a glaze: Spread icing over cookies in a smooth layer using a small, thin metal spatula (sometimes called an icing spatula; it can be flat or offset). Put the cookies on a wire rack to let the glaze set/dry.
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