0,5 lb (2 sticks) margarine or butter, at room temperature.
3/4 cup icing sugar, or sugar processed in a food processor.
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1,5 tsp vanilla extract
2,5 cups flour
1. Have all ingredients at room temperature. In a large bowl, beat first 4 ingredients on medium speed until very fluffy and well blended.
2. Add next 2 ingredients and beat until well mixed. At last, add flour and beat in until combined.
3. Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 2 days or it can be double - wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.)
4. Lightly flour the work surface. Roll the dough to 1/8 inch thick, using an offset spatula to loosen the dough. Sprinkle the surface lightly with flours as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Cut the dough into desired shapes. Place the dough shapes on parchment-lined cookie sheets, spacing about 1/2 inch apart. Get as many dough shapes as you can out of each sheet, because the dough should be rolled only 2 times. Discard any leftover dough after the second rolling, or form the leftover dough into balls and flatten them to about 1/8 inch thick.
5. Bake, 2 sheets at a time, until the cookies are evenly golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes, rotate the sheets halfway through baking for even browning. Using a thin-bladed spatula, immediately transfer the cookies to racks to cool to room temperature. Decorate.
Cornmeal Citrus Cookies
Follow the master recipes, adding 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon or orange zest to the creamed butter, sugar, and salt, and substituting 1 cup find cornmeal for 1 cup of the flour.
Follow the master recipe, adding 1 ounce melted and cooled unsweetened chocolate to the creamed butter, sugar, and salt. Substitute 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa for 1/4 cup of the flour and add 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the flour-cocoa mixture.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
Follow the master recipe, adding 2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest to the creamed butter, sugar, and salt, and stirring 2 tablespoons poppy seeds into the finished dough.
Follow the master recipe, adding 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest and 1 cup finely ground walnuts or skinned hazelnuts to the creamed butter, sugar, and salt.
Follow the master recipe, adding 1 teaspoon ground ginger to the flour and stirring 6 tablespoons finely minced candied ginger into the finished dough.
Follow the master recipe, substituting 1 cup packed light brown sugar for the sugar and adding 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice, and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves to the flour.
Prepare Spice Cookies, above, stirring 1/2 cup finely minced raisins or 1/2 cup dried currants into the finished dough.