2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
2 sticks cold butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons light cream (or half and half or heavy - I've used all three at different times)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Mix flour, salt, sugar together in bowl of mixer or food processor. Add butter and mix until it's a crumbly consistency. Whisk together yolk, cream and vanilla, then knead into butter/flour mixture.
Divide dough in half and roll out each piece between two sheets of wax paper or parchment. Chill on a baking sheet in your fridge, on the porch in December or in the freezer for even a few weeks.
Preheat oven to 325 and line baking pans with parchment.
Cut desired shapes with cookie cutters, re-rolling and re-chilling scraps. Bake about 12 minutes, until the edges brown ever so slightly. Be careful not to move the cookies too quickly so they don't break.
Variation: to add color BEFORE baking mix serious paste food colors with some cream and brush onto cookies BEFORE baking. Alternately sprinkle with colored sugar BEFORE baking. Or wait until after they've cooled and then do a butter icing or royal icing!