I did a lot of research before settling on this recipe for cookies and royal icing. I read a lot of comments, reviews and author’s feedback. So you can feel safe in the knowledge that I undertook this with a great deal of seriousness.
Which is kind of ironic because I iced them at midnight, after a lot of vodkas, that were consumed at a Christmas catch-up with a lovely girlfriend. BUT, I personally think that testifies to the safety of the recipe, the research I did, and the science of it all (coz I love the nerdy science aspects of baking).
Another reason this recipe needed to be foolproof was because it’s 30C degrees on average at the moment in Melbourne, and that adds an extra layer of difficulty to making traditional Christmas recipes, especially cookies that require rolling.
So I wanted absolutely foolproof. And vodka proof.
I do have a great ginger snap recipe which is also tried and tested for rolling out cookies (see below) if that’s more your thing. But I ate too many gingerbread men last week so wanted to try sugar cookies.
I made these for my husbands’ Year 2 class, who I was getting a chance to meet for the first time. They seemed happy with the result…
Maybe the lesson here is crack into the vodka, eggnog, or whatever you fancy this time of year where you live and care a little less about getting the icing in the lines. You can always fix it by sticking a silver bobble on top.
For the cookies
3/4 cup (170g) unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar (that’s the table kinda sugar, not finer caster stuff)
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional – I did not add this time)
2 and 1/4 cups (281g) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- In a large bowl using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamed and smooth – about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes.
- Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high until fully combine, about 2 minutes.
- Turn the mixer down to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, you can add 1 tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.
- Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the pieces (with paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Chilling is mandatory.
- Once chilled, preheat oven to 180C (350F) degrees. Line 3-4 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The amount of batches will depend on how large/small you cut your cookies. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut into shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.
- Bake for 8-11 minutes, until very lightly coloured on top and around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through. My cookies took 9 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, I put my in the fridge before icing because I’m pretty sure room temperature doesn’t mean 30C in most people’s books.
For the icing:
2 egg whites
2 tsp lemon juice
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
Freckles, golden balls, various other decorations as you see fit.
- Using an electric mixer, whisk egg whites with the lemon juice until combined.
- Gradually add in sifted icing sugar on low speed until smooth.
- Divide mixture up (I did into three batches) and add food colour of your choice, I recommend food colouring gel as it’s thicker.
- Pipe onto cookies – I used plastic disposable bags with the smallest nozzle I could find. I had three bags filled with white, red and green on the go at once. Experiment. Go crazy. Cover mistakes with freckles and other decorations.
- Leave for 2-3 hours to set hard.
- Use immediately or transfer to an airtight container as this icing hardens when exposed to air.
- This recipe is great to use on gingerbread men. You can pipe it onto the edge of cookies and flood the centre with sugar icing.
Makes: 49 various size cookies as pictured.
Source: For the cookies: Sally’s Baking Addiction, for the icing: Kids Spot.