- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp. mace
- 12 Tbs. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on high speed for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, slowly add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed. Add the remaining flour and beat until all of the flour has been absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 equal balls. Shape each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Place each dough disk between 2 clean, large pieces of plastic wrap. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. (If the dough cracks while rolling, let it stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes more.) Remove the plastic wrap and place the dough on a floured work surface. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour.
Preheat an oven to 350°F.
Line several baking sheets with parchment paper. Dip circus cookie cutters into flour just before using and cut out the shapes. Hold each cutter over a prepared baking sheet and lightly depress the plunger to remove the cutout; the plunger will also imprint the tops of the cookies. Freeze the baking sheets for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes. Gather up the scraps, reroll and cut out more cookies.
Bake the cookies until very light golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes. Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let the cookies cool to room temperature. Makes about 20 cookies of each shape.