For the cookies:
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 cup | 7 ounces granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 1/2 cups | 12.5 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- pinch salt
For the royal icing:
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 5 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 2 pounds of powdered sugar
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until fully combined. Scrape down the mixture, add the egg and vanilla and stir until just combined. Overmixing causes too much air in the dough and the cookies will spread.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to mixing bowl and cover with a small towel to prevent flour from escaping. Again it’s important not to overmix. The dough should just come together and stick to the paddle.
- Roll dough between two sheets of parchment paper that’s been lightly dusted with flour. Chill for 45-60 minutes and then roll dough to 1/4″. Cut out shapes and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Reroll scraps and repeat process, adding a little flour if dough becomes sticky.
- Place cut cookies back into freezer while the oven preheats to 350. Bake for 9-12 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Cool for five minutes on pan and then move to wire rack to cool completely.
- Decorate cooled cookies with royal icing.
For the royal icing:
- In a stand mixer pour the warm water and meringue powder. Whisk it by hand 30 seconds until frothy.
- Add the cream of tartar and mix another 30 seconds.
- Add all of the powdered sugar and mix on low for 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy.
- Tint desired amounts of icing with food coloring. Add small amounts of water to reach desired consistency for piping and flooding.
- Store at room temperature covered up to two days.
Chilling the dough is essential to cookies staying intact during baking. If butter is too warm, cookies will spread during baking. If this doesn’t bother you, then skipping the second chill is fine. But it will make the edges not as crisp and more difficult to frost with royal icing.
Baked and undecorated cookies can be frozen up to three months. No need to thaw them when you’re ready to decorate.