| RECIPE METHOD
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, allspice, and nutmeg; reserve
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set on medium-high speed, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
Reduce speed to low, add the flour mixture, and beat until the dough comes together. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Flatten each half into a disk, wrap separately in plastic wrap, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 1/8-inch thick. Using a cat-shaped cookie cutter or template 5 or 6 inches in diameter, cut out cookies. Reroll scraps. As you cut the cookies, transfer them to the prepared baking sheets.
Bake until lightly browned on the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to cooling racks and let cool to room temperature before icing.
To make the icing, place the egg whites in a bowl. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until soft peaks form. Add the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice and continue to beat until thick and shiny. The icing should spread easily. If the icing is too thin, add more sugar; if it's too thick, add a bit of water.
Scoop out half the icing and divide it in half between 2 small bowls. Tint the icing remaining in the large bowl with black food coloring (for the eyes) and the other small bowl with pink or red coloring (for the mouth).
TO ICE THE COOKIES: Spoon black icing onto its center. Smooth with a small spatula or butter knife. Allow to dry for a few minutes. Using a paint brush or toothpicks (if you don't have a pastry bag or the inclination to use one), draw eyes onto the icing with the yellow icing and a mouth with the pink or red icing. Place 3 licorice strings, cut to fit, on each side of the face for the whiskers.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Chronicle. All rights reserved.