Ingredients:

Sugar Cookies:

1 1/2 cups (195 grams) all purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated white sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Royal Icing Using Egg Whites:

1 large egg white

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 cups (165 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

or

Royal Icing Using Meringue Powder:

2 cups (220 grams) confectioners' (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

1 1/2 tablespoons (15 grams) meringue powder

1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/4 cup - 1/2 cup (60 - 120 ml) warm water

Food Coloring (I use Gel Pastes that can be found at cake decorating and party stores or else on-line)


Instructions:

Sugar Cookies: In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 to 4 minutes). Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about one hour (or overnight) or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Remove the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (.6 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter.) Cut out egg shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to the prepared baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for 10 to 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.

Note: If you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you may want to sprinkle the unbaked cookies with colored crystal or sparkling sugar.

Bake cookies for about 8 - 10 minutes (depending on size) or until they are just beginning to brown around the edges. Remove from oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with royal icing and sparking sugar, if desired. Be sure to let the royal icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours.)

Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight container. Store between layers of parchment paper or wax paper.

Makes about 20 - 3 inch cookies.

Royal Icing with Egg Whites: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg white with the lemon juice. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth. Add coloring. The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

Royal Icing with Meringue Powder: In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder until combined. Add the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (4 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. Add coloring. To cover or 'flood' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.

The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.


Description:

Sugar Cookies have a sweet and buttery flavor, tender texture, and crisp edges. They make good cut out cookies as they keep their shape when baked. So, of course, this is the recipe to use when Easter cookies are needed. You can cut the dough into whatever shape you like and my personal preference is to frost the cookies with colorful royal icing and a sprinkling of sparkling sugar.

Royal Icing dries to a smooth and hard matte finish. It can be made two ways; with powdered sugar, egg whites and lemon juice or with powdered sugar, meringue powder, and water. I prefer the taste of royal icing made with egg whites, but if you are concerned about the risk of salmonella, you might want to use the meringue powder. Meringue powder is a fine, white powder that contains dried egg whites, sugar, salt, vanillin and gum. It can be found at most cake decorating and party stores or else on-line.

Now, let's talk about which type of food coloring to use. Personally, I like the concentrated gel paste dyes that are sold in small 1/2 or one ounce (14 - 28 grams) containers. Only a very small amount is needed to color the icing, and I measure it out using the end of a toothpick. Make sure to thoroughly mix the paste into the icing as you do not want streaks. You can buy gel pastes at cake decorating stores or stores like Michael's.