Special Equipment: assorted animal-shaped cookie cutters, about 4 to 5-inches long
Decorating suggestion: multi-colored sprinkles, colored decorating sugar, mini chocolate chips, small candies, mini marshmallows
For the cookies: Put an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the cookie dough and flour until smooth. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/4-inch thick. Using animal-shaped cookie cutters, cut out shapes from the dough and arrange, about 2-inches apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Form the scraps of dough into a ball, roll out to 1/4-inch thick, and continue to cut out animal shapes. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until the edges are lightly golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, about 15 minutes.
For the frosting: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla extract and 1/4 cup water. Beat on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to high and beat until the mixture is smooth, adding more water, as needed, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the frosting is spreadable. Divide the frosting between 3 small bowls. Color the frosting by mixing in 1 drop of food coloring at a time, until the desired color is reached. Spread the frosting over the cooled cookies and decorate.
Cook's Note: If using natural food coloring (such as Seelect brand), be sure to shake the bottle before adding the coloring to the frosting.
Recipe courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis