This is the same recipe that I use for the cookies titled the best sugar cookies ever. The directions are just different because these are to be rolled. I have also included a link to a royal icing tutorial that has a ton of pictures. Yesterday I made two batches of these cookies, one for my class (I tutor a first grade student for one of my ECE classes) and the second for my family for this weekend. Be prepared to spend a few hours on these because you need to wait for the outline to dry before flooding them. And wait again before adding any details. Between the two batches yesterday I spent about 5 hours decorating. If you need to take a break from decorating cover the royal icing with a wet towel (squeeze out excess water) so that it doesn't dry out. And place the decorating bags in a glass with a small amount of water at the bottom.
Ella’s White Sugar Cookies:
1 c butter, softened
1 c powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg, beaten
1 T vanilla
2 tsp lemon extract
2 tsp + lemon zest (I use the zest of an entire lemon)
1 tsp salt
2 ½ c flour, sifted
1. Cream butter.
2. Add powdered sugar.
3. Blend in egg, vanilla, lemon extract, lemon zest, salt and flour.
4. Chill dough until firm, about an hour. (I normally make the dough the night before I need it)
5. Pre heat oven to 325degrees
6. Prepare workspace with sifted powdered sugar
7. Prepare cookie sheet, I use foil sprayed with Pam for easy clean up.
8. Roll dough to desired thickness, 1/8” to ¼”
9. Cut out desired shapes, and carefully transfer to prepared cookie sheet.
10. Bake for 10-12 minutes be careful not to brown the cookies.
11. Cool completely before decorating with royal icing.
12. Check out this great step by step royal icing tutorial: http://annies-eats.com/2009/12/04/how-to-decorate-with-royal-icing/
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick. Add a little more liquid and try again.) Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along. Allow to set.
Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired. Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid. Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.
(Also from www.annies-eats.com)