Sugar cookies are a staple around Christmas time. Even though they are as simple as you can get as far as cookies go, I still love them because of their endless decorating possibilities. These snowflake cookies are one of my favorites. I’m including a very good sugar cookie recipe below, but if decorating is more your thing and you want to skip the baking there is no shame in using store bought cookie dough.
Rolled Sugar Cookies
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Cream together the butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. Make sure that the butter is at room temperature before beating it. Creaming the butter and sugar adds air to the mixture and is one of the most important steps to follow if you want a good result.
Tip: It may take up to 8 minutes to get a smooth mixture.
Next, mix in the eggs one at a time. Then add the vanilla. Mix in the flower, baking powder and salt.
Rap the dough in saran wrap and cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour, preferably overnight. I prefer to divide the dough into three sections and wrapping them individually. That way you can keep the dough cool as you work with part of it.
Tip: Roll the dough into tubes before cooling if you are going to make round cookies. Then all you have to do is slice off 1/4 inch slices and bake.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Roll out the cooled dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut out using your favorite cookie cutter shapes. I really like snowflakes for winter time. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 6-8 minutes. Cool completely before decorating.
Now the trick to a well decorated cookie is all in the icing. If you can master the right consistency you will be able to make some really neat designs.
1 egg white
3.5-4 cups powdered sugar (you probably won’t use it all)
.5 tsp lemon juice (you can always substitute and extract like vanilla)
1-2 Tbs. water
Add the egg white and lemon together in a mixer. Using the paddle attachment start mixing. Slowly add small amounts of powdered sugar at a time to the mixture making sure it is well incorporated before adding more. You may need to add a bit of water in order to get a good piping consistency which will look like whipped cream (or toothpaste), having soft peaks. Add a small amount of food coloring to create the color that you want.
Don’t worry about how much of each ingredient you are using. It is more about the consistency of the end product than it is about exact measurements. It’s a feel. It gets easier the more you make it.
To make a frosting to ‘flood’ the cookie with all you need to do is add a small amount of water to the royal icing until it becomes runny and pourable.
Tip: Before you just pour the flooding frosting over the cookie consider piping a small outline around the cookie with the piping frosting. By outlining it first with the thicker frosting you will be able to pour the flooding frosting over the cookie without it running over the sides.
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