Easter Cutout Cookies
1 lb. (4 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 large eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla or 2 tsp. vanilla and 1 tsp. orange extract
1 tbsp. grated orange peel, optional
4 3/4 to 5 c. flour
1 recipe Frosting Paint and Icing (see recipe)
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter, sugar and salt until well-mixed. Beat in eggs, vanilla and orange peel until light and fluffy. Beat in flour until well-blended.
Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours or longer. Prior to baking, allow dough to stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll easily.
Preheat oven to 375°F. To bake cookies, on a lightly floured surface, roll dough 1/4-inch thick. With lightly floured egg-shaped cookie cutter, cut into egg shapes. Reroll dough trimmings and keep cutting out cookies. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased foil-lined cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are golden. Watch carefully. Cool on cookie sheets a few minutes, then remove to racks to cool completely. Decorate as desired with Frosting Paint and Icing. Let stand until set and hard.
Makes 2 to 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
Frosting Paint and Icing
6 T. meringue powder
2 (1-lb.) pkg. powdered sugar
3/4 C. warm water, or more as needed to thin icing to proper consistency
Assorted paste food colors (available at cake decorating supply stores)
In a large bowl with heavy-duty electric mixer, beat together meringue powder, powdered sugar and water on low to medium speed about 7 to 10 minutes or until icing forms peaks.
Divide frosting in half. Turn one half into a plastic container, cover and refrigerate to use for decorative designs on tops of cookies.
Use the remaining half to paint cookies as follows: Divide frosting among 4 small bowls. (Keep covered while working to keep from drying out). Tint each portion the color desired (we used pink, lavender, aqua and yellow) with paste food colors and thin with a few drops of warm water until mixture reaches consistency of thick paint.
Using 1-inch wide inexpensive artist's brushes, paint entire top surfaces of cookies until smooth using color desired. Let stand several hours or overnight until dry and hard.
Use remaining refrigerated frosting to decorate tops of cookies. Remove from fridge and divide among 4 or 5 small bowls, tinting each portion with paste food colors as desired and thinning with a few drops of warm water only if necessary for ease in piping on icing.
Pipe decorations on top of hardened frosting on cookies in designs desired using pastry bag fitted with small decorating tips and filled with various colors of icing. Let cookies stand until decorations are dry, set and hard. Will take a few hours.
Makes 5 to 6 cups.
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