Day Three of a Week of Christmas Treats, and today’s recipe has been a long time coming. I feel a little guilty that I haven’t yet shared this recipe. But better late than never!
I’ve been making this particular cookie recipe for 2 years now. The dough rolls out like a dream. The baked cookie holds it’s shape without sacrificing flavor or texture. And It’s the perfect canvas for both beautiful royal icing and tasty buttercream. It’s the same recipe I use when throwing a cookie decorating party and every year for Christmas. In fact, I’ll be tagging this recipe as a Baking Basic, because I think everyone needs a great sugar cookie recipe under their belt.
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
16 Tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder. In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to mix together the egg and extracts. Set both aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter, salt, sugar, and lemon zest (if using). Add the egg mixture and beat to combine. Gradually add the flour and mix just until combined.
Lightly knead the dough in your hands then, divide the dough into 2, roll into balls, then press into a 1-inch thick disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.
While the dough is chilling, line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
After chilling, place a disc of dough on a lightly floured surface (a pastry mat or sheet of parchment paper dusted with flour is perfect) and roll, using a lightly floured rolling pin, to 1/4-inch thick. (If the dough is too difficult to roll, let it sit covered for 20-30 minutes to come closer to room temperature). Use cookie cutters to cut dough into shapes. Combine and re-roll scraps as needed. Use as little flour as necessary for each step.
Place cut out cookies 2-inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 5-7 minutes, or until the tops no longer look wet and the cookies look slightly puffed. Careful not to over-cook, you don’t really want the edges to be brown. Allow to cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to coll completely.
Source: The Way the Cookie Crumbles
For decorating I used Sugarbelle’s royal icing recipe. I allowed the cookies to rest over night (I feel like decorating the same day leads to a funky royal icing texture/look) and then piped the outlines (with a pastry bag and small round tip) and let it dry for an hour or so. Once the outline was dry, I flooded the cookie with the desired color (using squeeze bottles). To make a the heart and swirl effects, while the flooded icing was still wet, I dropped small drops of a different color and then used a toothpick to drag through the dot. One day I’ll slow down and take pictures of my own process, but in the meantime there are lots of other super helpful tutorials.
To add to the fun I invited the girls I used to nanny over for cookie decorating fun. This was, I think, the third time I’ve decorated cookies with them, so by now they are pros.