2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks), softened (no substitutions)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Ornamental Frosting (recipe follows)
- In a large bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat sugar and butter until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce speed to low; beat in egs and vailla until blended. Gradually beat in flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg until well blended, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
- Divide dough in thirds; glatten each into a disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or until dough is firm enough to roll. (Or freeze for 30 minutes.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On lightly floured surface, with floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough 1/8-inch thick. With a floured 3 1/2-inch bell-shaped cookie cutter, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; wrap and refrigerate trimmings. Place cookies, 1-inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet/sheets.
- Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings until all dough is used.
- When cookies are cool, prepare the Ornamental Frosting, if you like, to decorate cookies. Set cookies aside for the frosting to completely dry, about an hour. Store cookies in tightly covered container (with waxed paper between the layers if decorated) at room temperature for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 3 months.
1 package (16 ounces) confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder
1/3 cup warm water
assorted food coloring, optional
- In a bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, and water until blended and mixture is so stiff that knife drawn through it leaves a clean-cut path, about 5 minutes.
- If you like, tint frosting with food colorings as desired; keep covered with plastic wrap to prevent drying out. With a small metal spatula, artists' paintbrushes, or decorating bags with small writing tips, decorate cookies with frosting. (You may need to thin frosting with a little warm water to obtain the right spreading or piping consistency.)