These are fantastic cookies for decorating with family.
Use different cutters and icing colors for birthdays and other holidays!
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest until blended. Mix in the flour and salt on low speed just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 1-2 hours.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough out on a well floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters as desired and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until fully cooked but not at all browned. Allow to cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired with royal icing (recipe follows).
1 large egg white
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced and strained
Combine the egg white and powdered sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice and continue whipping until completely incorporated, about 3 minutes. The lemon juice whitens the royal icing. The royal icing should be light, fluffy, and slightly stiff. You may need to adjust the consistency by adding more egg whites if the icing is too dry or more powdered sugar if it is too wet.Place the royal icing in a small piping bag or paper cornet.