Roll Out Sugar Cookies (adapted from Bake at 350's recipe)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter (room temp is best, but cold won't mess up the recipe)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg (room temp is best, but cold won't mess up the recipe)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 cups all purpose flour (I prefer White Lily pre-sifted flour. It seems to make the cookie lighter and the dough doesn't get tough.)
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Cream together butter and sugar. In a seperate bowl, measure out flour and baking powder and mix together.
- Add egg and extracts to the butter mixture.
- Add flour mixture slowly to the butter mixture. Mix until flour mixture is just combined. Dough will be crumbly.
- On a floured surface or on parchment paper, knead together dough (just enough to make all the crumbles combine). I like to form 2 disks rather than 1 large one.
- Roll out dough using your preferred method. My favorite way is between two pieces of parchment paper instead of using flour. Cut out shapes.
- Place cut out shapes on baking sheet, and place in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes (or freezer for about 5)
- Bake for 8-10 minutes depending on thickness. I like to roll out to 1/2 inch, and bake for 10 minutes. However, every oven is a little different. If you do not know your oven well, be sure to watch your cookies around 7 minutes to make sure when they need to come out.
- Let cookies cool for about 5 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool.
Royal Icing (adapted from Wilton's recipe) - I used Bake at 350's recipe for my first few sets of cookies, but I just had inconsistent results. I believe it probably has something to do with living in the sauna that is Savannah, GA. Even in the winter, our humidity is higher than most places. I have had stellar results with this recipe, but it does make a bit less than Bridget's recipe. Depending on where you live, you might want to try her recipe or Antonia74's recipe. Bottom line is although all the royal icing recipes sound really similar, the results can vary greatly. So if you get bad results with one and you have done everything right (I am including some troubleshooting below), try another recipe!
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder (I use Wilton bought from Michaels, but I am planning to switch to Ateco once I run out. You have to order this from a bakery supply website or amazon in my town right now, but I hear it is well worth it for the results you get from this brand)
- 6 tablespoons warm water
- 1 lb. (4 cups) sifted powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon light corn syrup (optional, but adds glossiness to your icing)
- 1 teaspoon extract of your choosing (I use almond usually)
- In a large bowl (if using a hand mixer) or in your stand mixer bowl, combine meringue powder and water. Wisk together to break up the clumps. Wisk until it is light and frothy (about a minute)
- Using your paddle attachment on your stand mixer (or just regular beater on a hand mixer), add sifted powedered sugar. Start your mixer on low/stir so that you don't get covered in powdered sugar!
- Once the sugar and water/meringue mixture is just coming together, add your corn syrup and extract. Turn your stand mixer to about 4 and set a timer for 7 minutes (if using a hand mixer, set to a low-ish setting (one above your lowest should work) and set a timer for 10 minutes).
- Check your icing when your timer goes off and see if the icing is forming stiff peaks. If it is, then you are good to go. If not, stir a bit more with your mixer (start in 30-45 second increments as you do NOT want to over beat royal icing)
- Thin your icing to the consistency you want. See these tutorials for consistencies such as flood icing, piping icing, and twenty second icing.
Troubleshooting for Royal Icing
If you are having problems with your icing such as it becoming crumbly once dry or the icing not wanting to dry and becoming sticky to the touch...ask yourself the following questions to see if you can determine your problem.
- Did you overbeat your icing? Mix it just until it forms stiff peaks and is glossy. With my recipe, this should be at 7 minutes in a stand mixer (10 with hand mixer), however it may vary for you. Try cutting down the time you beat your icing and see if you get better results. The tell-tale sign for overbeating icing is usually crumbly icing once it dries.
- Did you add too much food coloring? Be sure to only add enough coloring to get the color you want. Add a couple drops of color, see if you have a deep enough color, and if not add a drop at a time more. Remember that certain colors take a while to develop such as pinks, reds, and blacks, so don't go crazy coloring these right away. Add a little bit of color to them, and then let them sit for about an hour before adding any more. Also, if you add all of the coloring you will need at once, you can encounter issues. Gradually adding coloring drop by drop and then stirring that in will get you to the color you want without issues.
- Did you gradually add water to thin your icing? Do NOT add a bunch of water all at once to get to a consistency of icing. This will cause your icing to become sticky and not dry. Just like in cooking instances where you must temper something to avoid curdling or scrambling an egg, you must get your icing used to the water. I use a spray bottle (a tip I learned from One Tough Cookie) to add my water, one or two spritzes at a time and sometimes just a tiny spritz (a couple drops if you are almost, but not quite to a consistency) If you add your water slowly, you should have a good icing consistency that will dry nice and smooth. Also, add your food coloring to the stiff icing once it comes out of the mixer. Do not try to get a good consistency and then add coloring as it can make it thinner. In addition, just like I stated above, add your food coloring drop by drop for the same reason as you do with the water.
- What is the weather like? If you live in a humid area or it is raining, you will likely have some issues with your icing hardening. If you have issues with this recipe (which works in Savannah humidity), then try setting up a fan to blow lightly on the cookies while drying, use a dehumidifier in the area you are working, or try drying cookies on baking sheets in the oven with no heat, but the light on. I don't have experience with any of these, but I have read they work for some.