Lemon-Vanilla Ornament Cookies
In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1 cup powdered sugar and beat until combined. Beat in egg, vanilla bean paste, salt, and lemon zest until combined. Beat in as much flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill 1 to 2 hours or until easy to handle.Advertisement
On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Use 2- to 3-inch fluted round cutters to cut shapes from the dough. Use a plastic drinking straw to cut holes near the top of each round for hanging. Transfer rounds to cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in a 375° oven for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating halfway through baking until set but not browned. Cool on cookie sheets 5 minutes. If needed, use the straw to re-cut hanging holes while still warm. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
For Royal Icing, in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 4 cups powdered sugar, the water and meringue powder. Beat on low to medium speed 7 to 10 minutes or until stiff and no longer shiny. Tint icing with food coloring. Decorate cookies as desired.*
You can spoon or brush Royal Icing onto cookies, but for the cleanest look, try the flooding technique. Using a piping bag fitted with a narrow tip, pipe a rim around the edge and the hanging hole. (If icing is too thick, stir in water 1/4 teaspoon at a time. If it is too thin, stir in powdered sugar.) Let stand until set. Using icing that has been thinned until it drips off a spoon, flood the center of the cookie. (A squeeze bottle or paintbrush works great for flooding. Use a toothpick to spread icing into corners.) Let set again before piping decorations over the base coat. Keep extra icing covered so it doesn't harden.