Easter Bonnets (Shortbread Cookies)

READY IN: 1hr 5mins
YIELD: 24 cookies




  • Combine the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl. Beat together with an electric mixer set at medium-high speed for about 1 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla extract. Sift together the flour and salt. Blend into the butter mixture, 1 cup at a time. Continue mixing until the dough is smooth and no streaks of flour remain. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions; pat each into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Working with 1 disk at a time (leave the others chilling), place it between 2 pieces of waxed paper or plastic wrap and roll out 1/4 inch thick. Remove the top piece of waxed paper, and using a 3-inch scalloped or straight-edged biscuit or cooking cutter, cut out at leas 6 cookies. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Reserve the dough scraps. Repeat with the remaining dough disks. Re-roll all the scraps and cut out at least 24 smaller cookies with a 1-inch straight-edged cookie cutter.
  • The smaller cookies will be the crown of the bonnets and large cookies will be the brims.
  • Place the smaller cookies on a second parchment-lined baking sheet at least 1-inch apart. Refrigerate both baking sheets until the cookies are very firm, about 2 hours. If chilling longer than 2 hours cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Preheat the oven to 300°.
  • Bake the cookies until firm and lightly golden for just about 20 minutes. They'll taste bitter if allowed to bake too darkly. Let cool completely on a wire rack before icing.
  • In a large bowl, beat the egg whites (or reconstituted meringue powder) with an electric mixer set on low speed until frothy. Sift the confectioners' sugar into the bowl. Slowly increase the mixer speed to high and continue and continue beating until brilliant white, firm, and fluffy, this takes about 10 minutes. You should have 2 1/2-3cups. Scoop out 1 cup of the icing and set aside to use for piping.
  • Thin the remaining icing with water, adding 2-3 teaspoons at a time until is is of pouring consistency. Divide among as many small bows as different colors you wish to create, then tint the portions. Place the cookies on a wire rack set over a baking sheet and pour the thinned icing over them. If necessary, shake the cookies to ease the icing over the edges. This should cover the cookies with a thin, even layer. Allow to dry completely.
  • Tint the 1 cup icing if desired. Spoon into a large piping bag fitted with a number 2 plain decorating tip for squiggles, dots, scrolls, and stripes or a number 4 plain tip for piping a ribbon. To create the bonnet, pipe a small amount of icing on the back of the smaller cookie and attach it onto the center of the larger cookie.
  • Decorate your bonnet according to your personality or those of your guests. And don't forger to sing along with July Garland -- "in your Easter bonnet with all the frills upon it".