1 cup (2 sticks) butter, salted or unsalted, slightly softened

1 cup granulated sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon hot water

Royal Icing, granulated sugar, sanding sugars, demerara sugar, nonpareils, dragées or sprinkles for decorating


Preheat oven to 300°F. Lightly grease with (Crisco) solid all-vegetable shortening, two or more cookie sheets.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar.

Gradually work in the flour. It will be dry.

Add the eggs one at a time.

Mix in the cream of tartar, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. Dissolve the baking soda in hot water and incorporate it into the dough.

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8″, and cut out shapes. Arrange on the cookie sheets. (If you’re using the same cookie sheets repeatedly as you bake, be sure to only put the cut cookie dough onto a cool pan.) Decorate before baking with sugars, nonpareils, sprinkles, or dragées; or decorate with royal icing after baking.

Bake until the edges are a delicate brown, approximately 10 minutes. Remove the cookies from the pan and let cool on a wire baking rack. Store in an airtight container. Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

For a fun, beachy look, nestle decorated cookies in demerara sugar on a platter.