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.