2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 11 1/4 oz)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
10 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt, stirring well with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and egg whites. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating at low speed just until combined. Divide dough in half. Shape each dough half into a flattened disk; wrap each disk in plastic wrap. Chill 1 hour.
To bake: Unwrap 1 dough ball and place on heavy-duty plastic wrap. Cover with additional plastic wrap. Roll dough, still covered, to 1/4-inch thickness. Repeat procedure with remaining dough ball. Chill dough 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove one dough portion from refrigerator. Remove top sheet of plastic wrap; turn dough over. Remove remaining plastic wrap. Using a 2 1/2-inch cutter, cut dough into 18 cookies. Place cookies 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough half.
Ok, that's the recipe straight from Cooking Light. But, now here's how I do it:
-Prepare the dough as directed, but I like to chill mine overnight.
-Spray a Silpat with Pam for Baking spray. Set the dough on the Silpat and spray the top of the dough a little. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut cookies with desired cookie cutters.
-Remove excess dough. Rewrap it in plastic wrap and place in the freezer or refrigerator to stay chilled.
-I work on 3-4 Silpats at a time so that I have one loaded with cookie cut-outs and ready to go in the oven.
-Each cookie shape will bake a different length of time so I just keep an eye on the first batch. I remove them JUST BEFORE the edges start to brown. It's tricky...that part takes practice.
-The key is to keep the dough chilled while you work with it. If it becomes too warm, it will stick to EVERYTHING. If that starts to happen, wrap it back up and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes.
When I decorate my cookies with Royal Icing, I use Wilton's recipe. And, for fondant, I like Satin Ice.