Cream Cheese Cutout Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened

3 oz. cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

1 large egg yolk

1 tsp. vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

Cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the sugar and beat well.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined.

Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for about 30 minutes or so.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough on parchment paper or another non-stick surface, to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet.  

Bake for 9-10 minutes or until barely brown around the edges.  Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

Royal Icing:

4 cups sifted powdered sugar (about 1 lb.)

3 Tbsp. meringue powder (available near the cake decorating supplies)

6-8 Tbsp. warm water

1/4 tsp. lemon extract (or extract of your choice) 

Combine all ingredients and beat with electric mixer on LOW for 8-10 minutes.  The icing should initially have the consistency of a thick Elmer's glue. (Ribbons will stay on the surface of the icing when the beaters are lifted.)