December 17, 2013

Christmas Cut-Out Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

As you might know if you've been looking for the "perfect" sugar cookie recipe, there are TONS of recipes to be found. Some with margarine, some with butter. Some with granulated sugar, some with powdered sugar. Some that require refrigeration, some that don't. Some that don't spread a single millimeter when baked, some that spread a little and make rounded edges.

Well your search is over, but not because I am giving you the perfect recipe. There really isn't a "perfect" recipe.

This is a recipe I found over at The Sweet Adventure of Sugarbelle, and it is one I prefer for many reasons. It doesn't have to be refrigerated, which is good for me because I am very impatient. This recipe does spread slightly but not so much that the shape of the cookie changes. And most importantly, the cookies have a flaky, buttery taste unlike other cookies that are hard and dry.

Really any cut-out sugar cookie recipe will work for making beautifully decorated cookies. Just find a recipe that works for you, and stick to it!

Cut-Out Sugar Cookies

Makes 2-2 1/2 dozen cookies

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) real unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2-3 teaspoons flavoring (I use butter vanilla or buttery sweet dough flavoring from LorAnn)
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Cream together softened butter and powdered sugar.
  2. Add the egg and your choice of flavoring. Mix until egg is thoroughly combined. 
  3. In a separate bowl mix together flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture in small amounts. 
  4. The dough is done when most of it sticks to the paddle. You can test it by touching it with your finger. It should have a little give, but not stick to your finger. 
  5. Let the dough sit for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Roll out the dough to a 1/4 inch thick and cut desired shapes. 
  7. Bake at 400 degrees for 7-8 minutes. If the edges start to brown, take them out NOW!  
  • The dough does NOT need to be refrigerated. 
  • This recipe doubles well to make 4-5 dozen. 
  • The cookies freeze well so you can make them far in advance. I sometime make mine a month in advance. Just let them thaw and decorate when you need them. 
  • This recipe does spread a little.
  • I prefer to roll the dough out the "old fashioned way." I use a rolling pin and flour right on the counter top. Most of the time I use powdered sugar instead of flour when making cookies. 
  • I love my Orka Silicone Baking Mat (link at bottom) for baking cookies. There is no need for parchment paper and they never stick! 

Royal Icing

Makes enough icing for 4-5 dozen cookies

  • 2 lbs. (1 32 oz. bag) powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • about 3/4 cup water
  • 2-3 teaspoons vanilla (or flavoring of choice)
  1. Add powdered sugar and meringue powder to the bowl. Mix with the whisk attachment until well incorporated. 
  2. Add the water and flavoring to the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until all ingredients are combined. It should be about the consistency of warm honey or shampoo. 
  3. Mix on medium speed for 4-5 minutes. It should be about the consistency of thick pudding.
  4. Turn up your mixer to high and mix for 2-3 more minutes. It is done when stiff peaks form. 
  • Royal icing and oil are NOT friends.  Make sure all of your utensils are oil free, including your bowls.  Wash them well in hot soapy water.
  • Royal icing keeps for a long time.  I have heard that many people leave it covered on the counter for a month and its just fine.
  • If you need to refresh it, you can fluff it up again with the mixer, and it will be like new.
  • It’s also alright to add a little bit of corn syrup to your icing. I do this if I want it to be a little shinier.
  • Gail's "Shpritz" idea was life changing for me! I use it to get extra powdered sugar off the sides of the bowl while mixing and when I'm thinning my icing for pipping and flooding. 
For more royal icing information and to learn how to color and prepare royal icing, visit The Adventures of Sweet Sugarbelle. Her cookie and icing posts were basically how I learned to make great cookies! 

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