Pretty festive cookies are inviting and synonymous with the Christmas season. I love to make these and dress them up in different styles, each being a unique piece of edible artwork. This cookie dough recipe is easily mixed and is very delicious. It is an extremely versatile dough which can be used in several ways such as for piped cookies, jam thumbprints and cutouts. It is important to leave the dough to rest and firm up in the refrigerator for at least and hour before using. I generally make the dough the day before, refrigerate overnight, then roll them out, cut the shapes and bake. While the cookies are baking, I mix the royal icing together which I then color and apply. This is a fun project, to do with the family. If you have children, decorating the cookies is a lovely activity, but requires some adult supervision. Set up a countertop work station with different sprinkles and colored icing. It will be a memorable Christmas activity with pretty results to be enjoy your everyone.
The royal icing recipe is pretty straightforward and it yields a beautiful icing which is perfect for piping or spreading. You can let the cookie be your canvas and express your creativity to embellish your sugar cookies. I can guarantee that not only will they be pretty, but will also a very satisfyingly scrumptious treat.
This recipe makes about 4 dozen cutout cookies, depending on the size and shape you choose. It will make around 5 dozen piped cookies.
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla
Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until fluffy.
Put the mixer in the lowest speed and add the flour mixture, until just combined.
Form dough into two disks and wrap each in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Cut 2 long pieces of wax or parchment paper about 12-14″. Sprinkle the paper with some flour on the bottom as well as the top of the disk. Cover with the second sheet and roll dough to a 9″ round and a 1/4″ thickness.
Cut out as many cookie shapes as closely as possible. Lift the cookies onto an ungreased baking sheet, leaving a space between each cookie.
Gather scraps and form a ball and repeat the rolling process until you have used all of the scraps. Try to be efficient in cutting out your cookies. The dough will soften and become more difficult to use. You can chill it again for about 10 minutes then repeat the process.
Garnish cookies with sprinkles or coarse sugar if using.
Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly golden.Gently remove cookies with a spatula and cool on a wire rack.
Plain sugar cookies just out of the oven. These will be iced with royal icing once cool.
1lb icing sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp clear vanilla or almond essence
3 large egg whites
In a mixing bowl, add the icing sugar, egg whites, essence and cream of tartar. Use the whip attachment at medium speed to combine. Have a rubber spatula on hand to incorporate the sugar that will ride up the sides of the bowl. When everything is well combined, increase the speed and whip to fluffy peaks for about 5 minutes.
You can color portions of the icing by adding few drops of food coloring into the mix. Note that a little goes a long way.
For a spreading consistency, you can stir in a teaspoon of water. Do not make the icing too runny or it will drip off of the cookies. Spread with a small knife or spreader.
If piping a design, use the original mixed icing. I piped my designs with a disposable piping bag and snipped a tiny hole at the end. I did not use a nozzle.
Note: icing may be made the day before and left covered and chilled. Remove from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before using.
A pretty and festive plate of sugar cookie hearts and stars
Sugar cookie cutouts for kids from 1-99 years old.
Happy Holidays to you and yours. May the joy and happiness of the season fill your homes and hearts with love.