As I have said before I do not claim to be a cookie decorator, however with a little more practice I'm getting better, I think. It helps to start with a really great cookie and of any I've tried, this one provides just about the perfect foundation for decorating.
The recipe is a Southern Living clipping from several years ago and I have used it more times than I can count. It does take some advanced planning as there is some refrigerator chilling time involved but the time is well worth the rich, buttery results.
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour, sifted
Cream butter. Add powdered sugar, salt and vanilla and continue beating on medium speed until well blended. Reduce to low speed and gradually add flour, mixing until a soft dough forms. And I guarantee, it will be very soft!
Divide dough into thirds, covering each third in plastic wrap and shaping into a disc. Refrigerate 2-24 hours.
Unwrap each disc onto a well-floured surface. Let it warm up a bit then cover with plastic wrap and roll out to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Again, this dough can be very soft so you have to work quickly and carefully. Refrigerate cookies on baking sheet for 15 minutes.
Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes until edges begin to brown. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to wire rack to cool completely and try to resist the urge to eat them up before decorating with the icing below:
6 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
8-10 tablespoons water
Whisk together sugar, meringue powder and lemon juice, adding enough water to reach a good spreading consistency. Divide and add color as desired.
These cookies bake up beautifully. They're firm and solid to handle while frosting and have I mentioned that they are delicious? I mean what's not to love about a buttery shortbread style cookie!
Depending on your cookie cutter size and depending on how many you snitch before frosting, you can expect this recipe to yield about 24-30 cookies.