With a little icing and a few candies, it's easy to turn plain sugar cookies into gala windows and doors--just the project to tap your child's culinary creativity.
For inspiration, here are a few more decorating ideas you can use to make your cookie ornaments dazzle.
Create a flower box by using icing to glue on a chocolate candy bar or cookie wafer. Then fill it with piped-on chrysanthemums.
Use green icing to pipe on a door wreath. Add Red Hots holly berries and a shoestring licorice bow.
Pipe on icing mullions and door casings, then stick lots of M&M's Minis Christmas lights to the icing before it sets.
Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and shortening. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla extract, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a separate bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir the dry mixture into the creamed ingredients, about a third at a time, until well blended. Divide the dough in half and pat it into 2 thick disks. Individually wrap the disks in plastic and refrigerate them for 2 to 4 hours, until firm.
Heat the oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets. Working on a flour-dusted piece of waxed paper, roll out 1 dough disk at a time until it is 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. (Tip: On flour-dusted waxed paper, roll out the dough starting in the middle and working out toward the edges.) Then cut out rectangles (3 by 4 inches for windows, 2 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches for doors). If the dough gets too soft to handle, slide the waxed paper and dough onto a third (ungreased) baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes. Arrange the prepared cookies on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them. To make cookie ornaments, cut holes at the tops.
Bake the cookies on the center oven rack for about 12 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to a wire rack and let them cool completely.
Now use the confectioners' sugar icing (see ingredients) to frost the windows and doors before adding details: candy cane candles, gumdrop doorknobs, cookie wafer door panels, fruit leather curtains, or any other adornment you may dream up. Store the decorated cookies in an airtight container. Makes 12 to 14 cookies.