Polka dots never go out of style. In addition to decorating with different shades of yellow, you can also use round cutters of varying diameters. Stir lemon extract into the icing for more lemon flavor.
Makes about 32 cookies.
Dough for Lemon-Buttermilk Cookies (recipe below), cut into various sized rounds
Royal Icing (recipe follows)
Gel-paste food coloring in various shades of yellow (purchased in stores)
Assorted round cookie cutters
3 or 4 paper cones or pastry bags with 1⁄4-inch (6-mm) round tips
Adapted from "The Art of the Cookie: Baking Up Inspiration by the Dozen" by Shelly Kaldunski, published by Weldon Owen. Images by Maren Caruso.
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (from about 2 lemons)
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1. In a bowl, whisk together the 3 cups flout, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat the butter and sugar until light a fluffy, 2-3 minutes. Add the egg and lemon zest and beat on low speed until the egg is completely incorporated. Beating on low speed, slowly add the flour mixture and continue to beat until almost incorporated. Add the buttermilk and the lemon juice and beat on low speed until just incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
2. Press the dough into a rough rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or up to overnight. (The dough can be wrapped well and frozen for up to 1 month.)
3. Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C). Line 3 baking sheets with partment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, using a rolling pin, roll out the chilled dough until about 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick. Using a cookie cutter or paring knife, cut the cookies into rounds.
4. Place the cookies on the baking sheets and bake one sheet at a time, grouping like-sized cookies together, for 12—15 minutes. The cookies should be lightly golden around the edges and the tops barely colored. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.
Royal Icing (makes about 3 cups)
Spoon one-fourth of the icing into a paper cone or pastry bag with a 1⁄4-inch (6-mm) round tip. Divide the remaining icing into thirds and place in separate small bowls.
Use the tip of a toothpick to add food coloring to each bowl, making each a different shade of yellow. Spoon into separate paper cones or pastry bags, each with 1⁄4-inch round tips.
Pipe the white icing around the edge of each cookie to form a border. Then pipe the icing into the middle of the cookie letting it run to the edges of the border. While the icing is still wet, pipe dots of various sizes in each shade of yellow into the white icing. Gently tap the cookie to settle the icing.
Let the cookies dry completely, at least 6 hours or up to overnight.
1. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, the meringue powder, 1/2 cup (125 ml) warm water, and the extract, if using. With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat until the icing is fluffy, yet dense. (7-8 minutes)
2. To thin the icing, use a rubber spatula to stir in additional warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time. To test the consistency, drizzle a spoonful of icing into the bowl; a ribbon should remain on the surface for about 5 seconds.
3. Cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Stir vigorously just before using.
Store the cookies in an airtight container, layered between sheets of parchment paper, at room temperature for up to 3 days.