Halloween Sugar Cookies

Yes, Mike is doing situps with a pumpkin. He has decided this is how he is going to counteract all the Halloween baking I’ve been doing (that, and running 4 miles a day).  I think it’s a pretty brilliant plan.  

So…my most recent Halloween Baking?  Sugar Cookies! Decorated with Royal Icing!  My neighbor Brigitte and I had a lot of fun decorating these bats, pumpkins, and ghosts.  She’s WAY more creative than I am…I absolutely love her pumpkin with the spider on it!
I didn’t use my typical sugar cookie recipe for these.  I wanted to try the version in How to Be a Domestic Goddess instead.  I liked them, but they overbake really easily, so make sure you take them out of the oven before they have any brown on them at all!  Royal icing is great for decorating, because it hardens completely.  I like to pipe an outline around the shape, then thin it out and spread the thinned icing inside the outline so it looks smooth.
Sugar Cookies
(from How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson)
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup suar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 cup flour, plus more if needed
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale, then beat in eggs and vanilla.
In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the butter and eggs and mix gently.
If the dough seems too sticky to be rolled out, add a little more flour.
Divide the dough in half, flatten each half into a disk, and refrigerate for one hour.
Sprinkle you work surface with flour, then roll out dough to about 1/4″ thick.
Cut with cookie cutters and place the cookies on lined baking sheets.
Bake for 8-12 minutes, then cool on a wire rack.
Royal icing
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 tbsp meringue powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4-1/2 cup warm water
gel food coloring

Stir together the meringue powder and powdered sugar.

Add the water and vanilla extract and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). 
If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. 
Mix in gel coloring as desired
The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

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