All bakers have their "go to" recipes. Those recipes they pull out because not only are the recipes tried and true, but delicious as well. I have several of these recipes, mostly from culinary school, and one of them is for butter cookies. These butter cookies are full of butter, just the right amount of sugar, and a hint of lemon. If you let them sit for a couple days after baking, they taste more like a traditional sugar cookies.
So these were the cookies I decided to make for Easter. And this handy, two-day division of labor will show you how to make the process less of a hassle.
Day One: The Making
First, measure out all the ingredients.
Soften the butter. Add in the sugar, salt, and lemon zest, and blend them together until light and fluffy. Like this:
Then scrape down the bowl, add in the eggs and blend the mixture. It looks broken, but that's okay. It's supposed to. See:
Scrape down the bowl again, and slowly add in the flour. Now it looks nice and fluffy again. See:
Scrape the dough out of the bowl, wrap it in plastic wrap, and flatten it into a disc.
Stick it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, until it's chilled.
When you're ready roll out the dough to between 1/8" and 1/4" thick. Cut out your cookies. I'm doing eggs and rabbits. Place the cookies close together on a lined cookie sheet--Use tinfoil, plastic wrap, or parchment--and place in the freezer. Let the cookies freeze until they are hard, then you can carefully layer them in large ziploc bags. Or, wrap the cookie sheets to prevent freezer burn.
Day Two: The Baking
When you're ready to bake your cookies, pull them out of the freezer and arrange them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. I love to use parchment because not only does it help the cookies bake evenly, but it also simplifies the clean up. And with me, the less mess, the better! They won't spread a whole lot so you can place them 1"-2" apart.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes The cookies will be done when they don't look wet, and edges have just a touch of color on them. Pull them from the oven and place them on a rack to cool.
While they are cooling, go ahead and make the icing.
Sift together 1 lb powdered sugar and 3 tablespoons meringue powder into a large bowl. Meringue powder can be purchased from any baking supply store, or even a Michael's craft store. Pour in 6 tablespoons of water. Using an electric mixer, or a standing mixer with a whip attachment, mix until stiff peaks form. If it's too dry, add more water until the right consistency is reached. If you want to color your icing, like I do, add a few drops of gel food coloring. I'm making a lot different colors, so I just put a little icing in each cup, and color them each a different color. Decorate as desired!
For a great way to decorate these cookies see this article from King Arthur Flour.