2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 and ½ cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups powdered sugar
¼ cup milk
2 Tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon almond or pure vanilla extract
Assorted food coloring
Cream the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add the sugar gradually and blend until creamy; add the vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and salt. Slowly add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and blend until combined. Remove the dough from the bowl and flatten into two discs. Chill the dough for at least 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 300° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough to ½-inch thickness on a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into desired shapes and transfer to the prepared sheets; refrigerate the sliced cookies for 25 minutes. Bake for 20 minutes or until the bottoms are very lightly browned. Remove from the oven and cool for 4 minutes on the sheet, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Decorate the cookies with sugar crystals while warm, or wait until completely cooled to frost. Makes about 4 dozen 3-inch cookies.
Perfect Icing: In a medium bowl, stir together the powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in the corn syrup and almond extract until the icing is smooth and glossy. If the icing is too thick, add more corn syrup. Add food coloring to desired intensity. Spread the icing on the cookies and allow to set for several hours or overnight. Add drops of water to the icing if it starts to dry out.