Use a cookie/cake pop stick to make a slight indentation on the backs of half of the round cookies; the cookies can be baked with the sticks in place or not.
Bake the round cookies for 6 to 8 minutes and the stocking cookies for about 12 minutes or until the edges are light brown. Leave them on the baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. While the scored stocking shapes are warm, use a knife to retrace the U shapes; remove them.
Repeat to use all the dough.
For the icing: Combine the confectioners' sugar, meringue powder, water and orange extract in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer; beat on low speed to blend, then high speed for about 5 minutes or until stiff peaks form. If you are not using the icing right away, place plastic wrap directly on its surface. To create different colors, transfer icing to small bowls and add gel or paste food coloring.
Tips from Roberts:
— It's important for this design that all of the stocking pieces line up, so I rolled out the dough on Silpat liners (parchment works just fine) on top on the baking sheet. That way, the cutouts don't have to be removed, which will prevent distortion. Cut the pieces far enough apart to allow them to bake without spreading into each other, then carefully peel away the excess dough, which can be rerolled.
— The design calls for two hollowed-out cookie layers that will hold lollipops and small bits of candy, but one layer yields a sleeker look. I scored the interior cutout and baked the cookie whole, then retraced the lines and removed the insert piece just after taking the cookies from the oven. To ensure the layers are the same size, I placed the cutter over the cookie and, if necessary, gently pushed the warm cookie sides to line up with the cutter outline.