Yields about 3 dozen
1/2 lb. (two US sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225g) granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1/4 lb. ready-made rolled white vanilla fondant
1 cup (130g) rainbow nonpareils
In a stand 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.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper and top with a second sheet. Roll dough into an oblong disc between the papers with a rolling pin. Transfer dough – wax paper and all – to a large cookie sheet. Wrap the dough tightly onto the cookie sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Remove top sheet of wax paper and roll dough a little thinner. It should not be sticky. You may dust the surface lightly with flour if it is sticky, but not too much! You don’t want streaks of white flour baked onto your pretty sugar cookies.
Roll dough to slightly thicker than ¼-inch, and less than ½ -inch thickness.
Cut out 2 1/2-inch egg shapes from the dough and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Be careful not to stretch the cutout shapes or they will be distorted after baking.
Refrigerate the cutouts for 30 minutes. This will help the cookies maintain a crisp shape during baking.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake the cookies for 12 to 15 minutes.
Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack.
Decorate! Roll the fondant to 1/4-inch. Use the same egg cutter you used for the cookies to cut egg shape from the fondant. Use a scalloped cookie cutter to cut some of the fondant egg shapes in half (you could also use a pastry wheel or a knife to zigzag the edge). Dot a little piping gel (or light corn syrup OR light honey) on the bottom part of the cookie and place the matching fondant half on the lower half of the egg. Place nonpareils in a bowl. Paint the remaining exposed cookie portion completely with more piping gel and dip into sprinkles. Shake and allow excess sprinkles to fall back into the bowl. To vary the eggs, paint an entire cookie with the syrup and dip into sprinkles so that the entire egg is covered in sprinkles. Allow the cookies to dry for 30 minutes. Arrange on a serving platter to serve, or package in cellophane bags and tuck into Easter baskets.
Store the cookies in an airtight container for longevity.
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