Combine sugar and shortening in a mixing bowl. Beat at low speed just until smooth. Mix in eggs, milk, and vanilla.
In separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, and salt. Pour into sugar mixture and blend until combined.
Shape dough into a ball and wrap with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 to 3 hours until easy to handle.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Lightly grease cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.
Roll out half of the dough at a time on a lightly floured surface. Keep the remaining dough refrigerated. For crisp cookies, roll paper-thin. For softer cookies, roll 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick.
With floured cookie cutters, cut dough into various shapes. Re-roll dough trimmings into a ball, cover and refrigerate, and continue to cut shapes with chilled dough.
Place cookies 1/2 inch apart on greased cookie sheets. To glaze, brush tops of cookies with heavy or whipping cream or with an egg white slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of water.
Sprinkle cookies with your choice of toppings; bake 8 minutes or until very light brown. Remove cookies and cool completely.
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