Sugar Cookies (about 28 cookies)
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1.5 tsp almond extract (I used imitation and it tasted fine)
1 tsp vanilla
2.5 cup flour
Cream butter and add in powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll into 1/4" thickness (or as desired) on well-floured surface and cut with cookie cutters. Re-roll dough and repeat. Bake cookies at 375 for 8-10 minutes. The cookies should not brown and they will not rise. Allow to cool before decorating.
When using royal icing, you have to have a lot of will power. No, not the Nascar racecar driver. Don't eat it as difficult as that is. :) When you make the batches of icing, divvy them up into sealable containers. The number of containers = number of colors you need. I used two different colors for one batch of 28 cookies and I had TONS of icing leftover so you could probably get away with 4 colors of icing with two batches of cookies easy.
Make the icing, put in piping bags with the couplers and tips and pipe the cookies (as shown above). I suggest Tip 3 as I had the best luck with this one (not popping the bag off the coupler). Allow those to cool (an hour or so) while the leftover icing is sealed in containers. You can leave the piping in the bags when not in use in a tall glass with a small amount of water in the bottom. Then add water to the sealable containers with the icing 1 tsp at a time so that the icing is more of a liquid consistency and drips off of a mixing spoon smoothly.
Then, spoon the icing inside the piped cookies. Using a bottle with nozzle works the best and is less messy. Help the icing reach the edges of the cookie with a toothpick until they look like the cookies below! As you can see I experimented with a few to see what I could get away with. Allow these to cool overnight and enjoy!
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp meringue powder (you can sub 2-3 egg whites for this)
5 tbsp water
toothpicks - for icing
Combine all ingredients with a mixer. Paddle attachment on a stand mixer is best. This will be the consistency of the icing that is piped for edging so if need be, you may add a small amount of water if it doesn't initially pipe through the #2 tip. After edging all the cookies, add about 1-3 more tbsp of water to the remaining icing in a tupperware container until it is smooth and drips off the back of a clean spoon. It should reabsorb into the tupperware container in about 10-12 seconds. It doesn't take much more water to get the consistency needed.
Note: I used to add enough water to make it the consistency on Annie's website but that was too much water and the icing never set. Use just a little less than is recommended on that website.