When Beth lived in west Tennessee, she began a tradition of baking cookies with friends during the Christmas holidays. At their first cookie baking, Jennifer Vincent shared this recipe for rolled sugar cookies, letting the children roll, cut, and decorate them. Even though Beth and her family have moved back to Georgia, they have continued the tradition with their new friends, and even though many of the children are all grown up, they still make these cookies at their annual Christmas cookie party. Everybody doubles the dough so they’ll have plenty to decorate and share. Her tradition has spilled over to Oklahoma.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined. Gradually add the sifted dry ingredients, one spoonful at a time, until thoroughly combined. Add the vanilla. Chill the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Roll out half of the dough at a time, keeping the remainder of the dough in the refrigerator. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness and cut it into desired shapes with a cookie cutter. Place the cutout cookies 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet and put the cookie sheet in the refrigerator for a few minutes before baking. This will help the cookies retain their shape. (You can roll out the scraps to make a few more cookies.) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just before the edges of the cookies start to brown. Cool the cookies for 1 to 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
In a medium bowl, combine the confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and warm water with a wire whisk. Stir until the icing is smooth. Adjust the consistency of the icing by adding more confectioners’ sugar or more water, as needed. Add food coloring, if desired, to the icing. Spread the icing on the cooled cookies and then top with assorted sprinkles and candies.
Meringue powder is available in a can. (I use Wilton.) It is used in place of egg whites in many icing recipes.