In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking.
Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency. If your mixture does not come together and is crumbly, add ice cold water 1 tbsp. at a time until the dough clumps. Roll the dough flat between sheets of parchment paper and chill until ready for use, at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Use a 5 inch cutter to stamp shapes from the dough and transfer them to the prepared pans. Chill the shapes in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown on the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Royal Icing and Decors
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, stir the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder on low speed until combined.
Add the water and beat on medium-high speed until thickened. Mix in the flavoring. Scrape down the bowl and beat again. Mix in drops of water until the icing thins to flood consistency (It should be thick and pourable like a milkshake. Run a spatula through the icing to check; the indention should disappear by the count of 10.) Use the icing immediately or drape a damp tea towel over the mixing bowl or bowls to prevent the icing from drying out.
Using a disposable piping bag or a zip-top bag with a tiny hole snipped in the end, pipe a line of frosting around the outer edge of the cookies. Let stand for 1 minute. Flood the inside of the shape with more icing until completely covered and smooth. Let stand until dry, about 4 hours or overnight.
Use the same cookie cutters used for the dough as a template to cut out the wafer paper with an X-acto knife. After the royal icing has completely dried on the cookies, brush each with a light layer of piping gel, and then place the corresponding shaped wafer paper on top. Turn the cookies upside down to dry completely, so the wafer paper lies perfectly flat.
Mix gold luster dust with drops of vodka to create a medium-bodied gold paint. Paint it around the cookie edges to finish. Use the flat edge of a small art brush to swipe a line of paint onto the wafer paper edge also.
Slightly thin the paint with drops of vodka, and then use a large brush dipped in the thinned paint to spatter the cookies with gold. Use a hard downward throwing motion to achieve a nice line of paint spatter. Allow the cookies to dry for 30 minutes to one hour, or until the gold paint is dry to the touch. Package in cellophane bags and arrange in an Easter basket for after dinner take-away favors, or use as table decorations at each place setting.
Note: Not all meringue powder is the same. Be sure to read the directions on the back of the meringue powder container for suggested amounts.
Keyword easter cookies, luster dust, printed wafer paper, sugar cookies