Perfect Iced Sugar Cookies Recipe
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To make the cookies: In small bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.
In large bowl, combine butter and sugar with electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy, at least 3 minutes. Add egg, vanilla bean paste and lemon zest, and beat well. Using electric mixer on low speed, add flour mixture until just combined.
Press dough into ball and flatten into disk about 3/4 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Adjust two oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions. Heat oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set them aside.
Roll out dough to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thickness, depending on what you like and what works best at the time. Using various cookie cutters, cut out shapes. Pull away outer scraps of dough.
Using bench scraper, quickly insert under a cookie and lift out of dough. (Don’t worry about picking up dough scraps around the shape, just pull them off once the cookie is on the bench scraper.) Place cookies on prepared baking sheets by sliding off scraper or dropping it onto your hand and transferring to baking sheets. Space cookies 1 inch apart.
Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown. (Watch carefully so they don’t burn.) Cool on trays for a few minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. Yields about 32 cookies, depending on shapes and sizes.
To make the icing: In small bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, meringue powder and salt. Gradually add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking until smooth, using just enough water to make the icing thick but still spreading consistency. (You don’t want it watery, just smooth and spreadable.)
If using food colorings, divide the icing into several smaller bowls. Dip a toothpick into food coloring and stir into icing. Mix well and adjust color to desired shade.
Using offset spatula, carefully spread icing on cookies. Add sprinkles immediately, if desired. Let Perfect Iced Sugar Cookies dry for 1 hour before handling.
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