No one knows better than Mrs. Claus what a fashion-conscious guy Santa is. That's why she personally designed that famous suit of his. "Getting the hat just right was the trickiest part," says the jovial seamstress. "I didn't want to waste a lot of fabric trying out different styles, so I made a huge tray of cookie hats to serve as samples. Santa quickly chose this jaunty red and white stocking cap design and," she confides, "polished off the whole batch of cookies!"
You'll need a pastry bag if you opt to pipe rather than spread on the frosting trim.
Using an electric mixer at medium-high speed, cream the butter, gradually adding the sugar. Beat in the egg until evenly mixed, then blend in the vanilla extract and salt. With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the creamed ingredients about one third at a time, until evenly blended. The dough may seem soft, but it will firm up when refrigerated.
Divide the dough into thirds. Place each portion on a sheet of plastic wrap and, with floured hands, pat the dough into a rectangle about 3-1/2 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. Wrap the dough and chill it for 1-1/2 to 2 hours, until cold but not rock hard.
Working atop a sheet of lightly floured waxed paper and using a floured rolling pin, roll the dough, 1 portion at a time, into a rectangle about 4-1/2 inches wide and a little less than 1/4 inch thick. Slide the dough, paper and all, onto a baking sheet and chill it for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350 degrees and grease 2 large cookie sheets.
Trim the long sides of the chilled dough and cut out triangles, as shown (each triangle is 4-1/2 inches tall; triangles are cut in opposite directions along the length of dough).
Transfer the triangles to the baking sheet. Gently pinch the top of each hat to give it a jaunty little bend.
Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, for 10 to 13 minutes, until they just start to brown. Immediately remove them from the oven and allow them to cool on the sheet for 2 minutes. Then use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool thoroughly. TIP: If you spread the cooled cookies on a baking sheet and freeze them for 15 minutes, they'll be easier to handle when you frost them.
To decorate the cookies, divide the Royal Icing or buttercream frosting between 2 small bowls. Leave half white and color the rest red. With a butter knife, spread red icing on each cookie, leaving a wide uncovered hatband. Spread or pipe on white icing for the band and the tassel. If you like, gently press coconut onto the frosted band and a mini marshmallow onto the tassel. Makes 20 to 24 cookies.