The holidays means baking. It also means being so busy with all the baking to even put up a blog post of delicious treats. Oh yeah, and work too. I have to remind myself that I have job and it’s not being covered in flour every day. I love the magic of the holiday but it always seems to creep up on me and then I have negative 5 days to get everything ready. But at least my house smells like pine trees. And pumpkin. And cozy sweater. Yep. I am obsessed with Yankee Candle.
If there was ever a list of top holiday treats cookies would definitely be at the top of that list. And not just any cookies: sugar cookies. I don’t have a friend who doesn’t have memories of decorating cookies with their parents. And of course there was always more frosting on my face than on the cookie, I love those memories. Mini Sarah with a blue/red/green mouth getting sick off cookies is a pretty hilarious image. I never was a cookie girl. But I love frosting so much. Royal icing? That is a whole different ball game. I have never made my own or worked with it as a grown up so I thought this would be a good time to start. This being The Great Blogger Cookie Swap. Yep, I’m back. Last year it was all about spicey nutella goodness. This year, my decorating skills are being perfected and the holiday spirit is alive and well.
This cookie swap is the brainchild of a couple of awesomely talented — and just awesome — bloggers and if it means donating my time in cookies for kids with cancer I am down. 180 percent. For this project each blogger donates to Cookies For Kids Cancer and we raised over $14,000! Cookies + Kids: definitely something I can get behind! I imagine all the kids will love the festive decorated cookies I made. I didn’t even let my boyfriend taste any! Except the broken ones. Everyone knows you don’t send reject cookies to friends. Part of this swap is to send cookies to three other bloggers and I would then get three different sets of cookies from three other bloggers. It’s an awesome plan and when fully executed, it’s really the greatest thing. I love giving goodies as presents more than I love getting them. And three separate presents of cookies is an amazing thing.
Let’s talk about royal icing for a bit. What’s it good for? Besides making sugar cookies look amazing? Nothing really. It tastes kind of awful; it’s so sugary it will make you sick. So let’s not get sick when we make cookies. Because of course you will sample frosting during this process. You have to. Essential part of making cookies. I added almond extract to make my icing a little less sweet and a little more delicious. You can totally add vanilla too. I’m just a fan of almond extract because I’m weird. This was my first time using royal icing and I have to say I was nervous. I’m not the most artistic person and I have a really unsteady hand. My mom has informed me many time I have THE WORST handwriting (actually she told me that just last week). It’s totally true but I think the Christmas spirit elves were on my side because these came out amazing. So amazing that I decided to replicate this with Gingerbread Men. Stay tuned for more artistic stylings of the most non-artistic person. And make these yummy cookies!
*adapted from Alton Brown
Time: 2 hr 24 min
Yield: about 3 dozen-2 1/2 inch
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tablespoon milk
- ½ tsp cardamom
- Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, baking powder, salt, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl.
- Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours. NOTE: I prefer to make the dough ahead of time and keep in freezer
- Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator (or freezer) at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat, and bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time. Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired. Store in airtight container for up to 1 week.
*adapted from Williams-Sonoma
*Makes 5 to 6 cups (enough to decorate 50-60 cookies)
- 3 egg whites, at room temperature
- 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ tsp. of almond extract
- ½ tsp. lemon juice
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites, confectioners’ sugar, cream of tartar and salt on medium-low speed until blended.
- Add the vanilla or lemon juice, increase the speed to medium-high, and continue beating until stiff peaks form and the mixture is nearly triple in volume, 7 to 8 minutes.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer, cover tightly with plastic wrap and store at room temperature until ready to use, up to 6 hours.