Monday, December 14, 2009

Its Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas...

Until just a few months ago, I had never made a lot of hand decorated sugar cookies. They are terribly time consuming and my patience...well, lets just say more often than not, the past cookies have ended up flung out the back door for the squirrels to eat before the icing ever had a chance to dry. Very frustrating! I'm not sure if I just happened upon the right recipes that harmoniously made nice cookies, or if God finally decided to have a little pity on me by spontaneously providing me with the necessary capabilities of creating the cookies. You know He does have a funny little sense of humor like that:) Whatever the reason, these cookies roll out nicely. And the icing is very easy to work with. I'll give my steps for the decorating since that is the most difficult part for me. Keep in mind, the icing in this recipe is royal icing. Royal icing hardens so that the cookies can be stacked for gifting/storage. Not break a tooth hard, but hard enough. You must work quickly and keep the icing in the bowl covered while not using or it will dry out and crust over.
You will not enjoy trying to decorate with crusty icing. You will have squirrel food for sure! Speaking from experience here :) Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies for Cutouts
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1.In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
2.Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
3.Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. Ice with royal icing.

Royal Decorator Icing:
3 tablespoons meringue powder
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons water
1 tsp of extract (vanilla, almond, peppermint, you choose)
1.Beat all ingredients at low speed for 7 to 10 minutes, or until icing forms peaks. More water can be added 1 tsp at a time until the right consistency is reached. Tip: Keep icing covered with a wet kitchen towel at all times. Icing can dry out quickly.

After cooling the cookies, you will want to fill a plastic decorator bag (fitted with a small round tip) about half full of the icing. Start by piping an outline on each cookie. When all the cookies are outlined. You will thin out some of the icing in a bowl with about a tablespoon of water or until it is pourable but not too thin. Pour into a plastic squeeze bottle (you can find these at Walmart in the cake/candy decorating dept). When the outlined icing is dry (about 10-15 min), use the squeeze bottle to fill in the outlines. I usually use a toothpick or skewer to help push the icing up to the edge of the outlines. If desired, sprinkle with sanding sugar. You can certainly leave the cookies like this, or after drying another 15 minutes or so, you can pipe additional decorations with the bagged icing and sprinkle with sugar again (if desired). You can add any embellishments your heart desires. I used pearl dragees and white sanding sugar on my snowflakes. I love the look of the monocromatic decorations. They look so pure and heavenly.I even added a few "M" monograms on some of these, since they were for a friend that had asked me to make them for her Office Christmas Party. I will certainly not say these cookies are easy or quick, but they are really fun. Perfect for the kids to help with! My Mary kept saying, "This is so fun, just so much fun!" So, if you have half a day to spend right here at the holidays, take a break and bake these cute cookies!!


Beth said...


Love your blog! Your Mom directed me to it. Everything looks yummy!

Your cousin,

Sonya said...

Oh wow these look fabulous!! I need to find a cut out like you have..thats so perfect!

Sinful Southern Sweets said...

Hey Beth! Glad you found me!

Sonya, I think I got that cookie cutter at Walmart. I'm not sure if they have Walmart in the Netherlands, but maybe since Walmarts seem to be integrating everywhere:)

Sonya said...

I can not tell you how much I wish Wal-mart was they arent though. They tried to open a place in Germany but it failed in every way possible. I swap goodie boxes with people from back home and will ask if one of them can find me one:)