Tis the season to make decorated cookies.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 8-12 minutes plus time for decorating
For the cookies:
1lb Salted Butter, room temperature
1+1/2 Cup Icing Sugar
1 Cup Cornstarch
1 Vanilla Bean, scrape the seed from inside the bean, save the pod for other recipes
3 Cups All-purpose Flour
Prepare a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and preheat your oven to 375°F. Add the butter and the seeds from the vanilla bean into a mixing bowl with the whisk attachment and mix until light and fluffy. Sift the icing sugar and the cornstarch together in a separate bowl and add it to the butter. Turn it on low and gradually increase the speed to incorporate. Once the sugar and cornstarch are mixed into the butter gradually add the flour, mixing on medium speed until incorporated. Remove the dough from the mixer, divide it into three portions, wrap tightly with plastic wrap and let set overnight at room temperature.
On a lightly floured surface roll out your shortbread dough to a quarter inch thick. The edges may crack, just press them back together. Cut out your cookies using your favourite cookie cutters. Roll the trim back into a ball and roll it out again until you have used all the dough. Place the cookies in the fridge for approximately ten minutes, this will help the cookies not to spread while baking. Bake the cookies for eight to ten minutes or just until the edges start to brown. Once the cookies and cooled it's time to decorate.
For the Royal Icing:
2 Cup Icing Sugar
1/2 Cup Meringue Powder
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
3-4 Tbsp Water, room temperature
Gel Food Colouring
Whisk everything together in a mixing bowl. The texture should pour in a continuous stream and mix back into itself but not be too runny. If you think it was too much water just add a little more icing sugar to thicken it.
Split up the icing into bowls and add the gel colours to it. The coloured icing then goes into piping bags, and I used a number two piping tip to create these designs.