Easter Egg Cut-Out Cookies with Royal Icing

Cut-Out Cookies
family recipe

1 cup butter
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar

Cut butter and dry ingredients together (or use stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment). In separate bowl, beat eggs, then mix in sugar.  Add vanilla, stir.  Make a well in the middle of dry ingredients, add wet sugar mixture and mix with wooden spoon or paddle until just combined.  Chill overnight. (To roll the dough out sooner, divide in thirds and form into discs; wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate 45 minutes.)

Preheat oven to 350*F.  Roll out dough to about 1/4 inch thickness and cut into egg shapes. Bake 7-10 minutes, cool on wire rack.

Royal Icing*
adapted from Bake at 350

8 tablespoons meringue powder
7 ounces water
15 ounces confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

Sift confectioners' sugar into large bowl. Set aside.

Combine meringue powder and water in bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment; beat until foamy.

Add sifted confectioners' sugar to meringue mixture and mix on low to combine. Add the corn syrup and extract, mix on low for a few seconds.

Increase speed to medium-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, until stiff peaks form (mixture will be glossy).

Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using food colorings (a lot of people recommend using gel paste food coloring, but for these cookies I used liquid color with no problems). To color the icing, divide the stiff icing among clean containers (use as many containers as icing shades you intend to make), then add the desired color and mix with a spatula.

Use the stiff icing for outlining and detail work.  Transfer stiff icing to a pastry bag fitted with desired tip (I use round #2 or 5 tip for outlining). (Note: you probably don't need as much icing for outlining as you think - I have to remind myself to use just half as much as I think I need.)

For flooding color, thin the remaining icing with water until it's a spreadable consistency (always color icing first, so the flooding icing is the same color as the stiff icing). To begin, add a teaspoon of water, then mix. Continue adding water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, until the icing falls back onto itself after a count of 5. Transfer icing to plastic chef's bottles.

Work cookies in batches, outlining 5 or 6 at a time, then going back and flooding with color. Some people like to let the outline dry completely first, but I find the meeting of the outline and flooded icing to not be as noticeable when I flood immediately. (Except, of course, when I flood with a color other than the outline color - you can still see the border then.)

Allow iced cookies to sit overnight to dry.

*This is a large batch of icing, which is more than enough to ice a batch of cookies this size. However, I'm of the mind that it's better to have too much rather than not enough; you can always find something else to use that icing on (graham crackers, for example), but trying to make another batch of icing and matching colors to the first batch? Not gonna happen...