November 8th, 2010
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating between each addition, then add the vanilla.
Turn the mixer off. Add the flour and then beat just until combined.
Remove the dough, shape it into a disk about 6 inches wide and wrap it securely in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for a minimum of 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Remove the dough from the fridge and cut it in half. Roll half the dough between two pieces of wax paper until it's about 1/4-inch-thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out your desired shapes and place them roughly 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Repeat the rolling and cutting process with the remaining dough. (Leftover scraps can be re-rolled.)
Refrigerate the cut-out cookies for 15 minutes. (This helps them keep their shape when baking.)
Bake the cookies for 9 to 11 minutes until pale golden, and then transfer them to a rack to cool completely. Frost and decorate as desired.
MAKE FROSTING: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.