3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange or lemon zest
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, using an electric or stand mixer, beat together butter and sugar on medium-high until the mixture is light, fluffy and pale, 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down sides of the bowl, and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, and beat until everything is well combined, stopping to scrape down the bowl as needed.
Add dry ingredients all at once, and mix on low speed just until incorporated.
Scrape dough out of bowl and divide it in half. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap, patting into a 1-inch-thick disk. Chill at least 2 hours and up to 5 days.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll out dough, one disk at a time, on lightly floured parchment paper or work surface until it's about ⅛ inch thick.
Create shapes, using a lightly floured cookie cutter. If at any point the dough becomes too soft to cut and cleanly remove from parchment paper, slide it onto a cookie sheet and chill for a few minutes in the freezer or refrigerator. Gather any dough scraps and combine them into a disk. Roll and repeat the cookie-cutting process, chilling as necessary.
Place shapes onto parchment-lined baking sheets 1 inch apart and bake until cookie edges are lightly browned with sandy, pale centers, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool and decorate.
4 cups confectioners sugar
3 tablespoons meringue powder (this is an egg white substitute that can be found at most craft or baking stores)
8-10 tablespoons water
Food coloring if desired
Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with an electric or stand mixer for 2 minutes.
If the icing is too thick, add more water one tablespoon at a time.
Pipe, spread or dip cookies.