This post has been in draft version for about 6 months because I was hoping to put in some Pioneer Woman action shots, but it's just not gonna happen. Here's the boring version...
I have tried lots of cookie recipes and have tweaked my favorites until I finally ended up with this recipe that I think tastes amazing and is easy to work with. Enjoy!!
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temp)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/4 tsp almond extract (or 1 1/2 tsp vanilla if you prefer, but it's sooo much better with almond!)
5 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
Cream together butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time. Add extract.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture and mix on low speed, scraping sides and bottom of bowl periodically, until combined.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap (flattened slightly in 2 batches). Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
Roll dough on a floured parchment paper to 3/8 inch thickness*. Cut out shapes and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. (or use Silpat mats) Bake at 400 for 6-8 minutes. Edges should just barely be turning golden.
This recipe makes about 3 dozen 4 inch cookies.
*You can also roll them to 1/4 inch to get more cookies, but then you have to underbake them just a little bit to keep them from getting too crispy. It doesn't seem that 1/8 inch would make much of a difference, but it really does. DH even complains that the frosting to cookie ratio is off when I make the thinner cookies! What a cookie snob :) I use these rolling pin guides to get it just right and they are awesome!
3/4 cup warm water
4 Tbs Powdered egg whites (you can also use meringue powder, but it tastes kind of gross)
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 2lb bag confectioners sugar
1 tsp vanilla
In your mixing bowl, wisk together powdered egg whites and water until foamy. Add cream of tartar and wisk again. Add confectioners sugar and mix on lowest setting until combined. Scrape sides frequently, being careful to get all the frosting back into the mix so none of it dries on the sides, which could make clumps in your icing. Add vanilla. Mix on the lowest setting for about 5 minutes until very smooth.
Add small amounts of water or powdered sugar to get the desired consistency. I use the knife test: drag a knife through the frosting and count the number of seconds it takes for the line to completely disappear. 6-8 seconds is perfect for flooding cookies.
*** I recently decided to use a different method of outlining with piping icing and then flooding with a very thin consistency, and realized I like it much better! It works great to start with a very thick icing and then thin for each consistency you need using a spray bottle. Look here for the recipe and a great how-to from Sweet Sugar Belle. The only change I made was to use powdered egg whites instead of meringue powder because I think it tastes better.