We love to bake, which might be obvious considering this blog. And by bake we mostly mean decorate. While our families might argue that eating our sweets is the best part, we love coming up with creative ways to decorate desserts for specific holidays, seasons, or celebrations.
Sugar cookies with royal icing are a staple in our lives. We make a batch at least once a month. Though simple in flavor, their decorating possibilities are endless. This cookie recipe holds its shape so well, unlike many recipes we’ve fiddled with in the past that turn into formless blobs once baked. Once we discovered this one, we haven’t gone back. Pair them with royal icing and your design possibilities are endless.
Sugar Cookie Ingredients
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Once smooth, beat in the eggs and vanilla.
Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix until the dough is formed. Don’t be afraid to use your hands. If it feels too sticky, add a little more flour.
Wrap the dough in wax paper or plastic and chill for at least one hour. Preheat the oven to 400 ºF (204 ºC). Roll the dough out on a floured surface until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Cut the shapes that you want and then using a spatula, carefully place the cut outs onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving an inch between the cookies.
Now the next step may seem pointless, but it is THE #1 SECRET to perfect cut out cookies. Place your sheets in the fridge for a few minutes before baking. Once the sheet is cool and the cookie dough is cold to the touch, remove them and immediately place them in the oven. Bake for 6-8 minutes, until the edges are barely brown. The extra few minutes of refrigeration is the key to keeping the shapes that you so carefully cut out.
Cool your cookies on a cooling rack and then onto the fun part – decorating!
Royal Icing Ingredients
- 4 egg whites
- 6 cups powdered sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Sift the powdered sugar and cream of tartar together, then set aside. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Pour them into the powdered sugar mixer and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until the icing forms stiff peaks.
Divide the icing in half. Leave one half as it is, the thick icing is what you want to use to make outlines and details.
Add a tiny bit of water to the other half until it is smooth and slowly pours from a spoon. It is always better to add too little water than too much! The runny icing is what you will use to flood your cookies. From here you can mix the colors that you plan to use and distribute them into your piping bags.
Michelle & Kirby