In a large bowl beat ½ cup softened butter with a mixer on medium 1 to 2 minutes or until creamy. Beat in ½ cup powdered sugar. Add 1 Tbsp. heavy cream and ½ tsp. vanilla; beat on low until combined. Gradually beat in an additional 1½ cups powdered sugar just until combined. Beat on medium 5 minutes or until fluffy, scraping bowl as needed. Add an additional 2 tsp. heavy cream; beat on high 1 minute more. Makes 1¾ cups.
In a large bowl beat 1/2 cup softened butter and 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese with a mixer on medium 30 seconds. Add 1 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, and 1/4 tsp. salt; beat until combined, scraping bowl as needed. Beat in 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla and 1 egg. Beat in 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and as much of 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour as you can with mixer. Stir in any remaining flour. Divide dough in half. Chill, covered, 30 to 60 minutes or until dough is easy to handle. Roll out dough, bake, and decorate as directed for Almond Sugar Cookies.
In a large bowl stir together one 16-oz. pkg. (4 cups) powdered sugar, 3 Tbsp. meringue powder, and ½ tsp. cream of tartar. Add ½ cup warm water and 1 tsp. vanilla. Beat with a mixer on low until combined. Beat on high 7 to 10 minutes or until icing is very stiff (for piping outlines and details). For flooding, divide out some of the icing and beat in additional warm water (4 to 5 tsp. per 1 cup icing) to reach desired consistency. When not using icing, keep it covered with plastic wrap or a damp paper towel to prevent drying out. If desired, chill up to 48 hours; stir before using. Makes about 3 cups.
Nutrition Facts (Almond Sugar Cookies and Mascarpone-Cocoa Cutouts)
169 calories; total fat 10g; saturated fat 6g; polyunsaturated fat 1g; monounsaturated fat 3g; cholesterol 31mg; sodium 96mg; potassium 43mg; carbohydrates 17g; fiber 1g; sugar 7g; protein 2g; trans fatty acid 0g; vitamin a 270IU; vitamin c 0mg; thiamin 0mg; riboflavin 0mg; niacin equivalents 1mg; vitamin b6 0mg; folate 26mcg; vitamin b12 0mcg; calcium 14mg; iron 1mg.
Meringue powder is a mixture of pasteurized egg whites, sugar, and edible gums. It is the secret ingredient to making Royal Icing dry quickly with a smooth, hard finish. Look for it in the baking aisle of large supermarkets or in the cake decorating department of hobby and crafts stores.
Nutrition Facts (Royal Icing)
37 calories; total fat 0g; saturated fat 0g; polyunsaturated fat 0g; monounsaturated fat 0g; cholesterol 0mg; sodium 0mg; potassium 5mg; carbohydrates 9g; fiber 0g; sugar 9g; protein 0g; trans fatty acid 0g; vitamin a 0IU; vitamin c 0mg; thiamin 0mg; riboflavin 0mg; niacin equivalents 0mg; vitamin b6 0mg; folate 0mcg; vitamin b12 0mcg; calcium 0mg; iron 0mg.