Days 1&2 of the 12 Days of Recipes: Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing
Updated: Dec 8, 2019
A solid soft sugar cookie can be just what you need for a fun holiday afternoon. They’re classic, and SO fun to decorate! The whole family can get in on all of the action! My three-year-old son was in on all of the action from making the cookie dough, to cutting the shapes and decorating the cookies. Anyone can do it and it creates fun holiday memories for the entire family/group!
For Days One and Two of my 12 Days of Recipes we’re talking all about the perfect soft sugar cookie paired with a fun way to decorate them! Flood frosting cookies is the method, and it sounds (and can look) a bit intimidating, but it’s not as hard as it can look. You can go as simple or as fancy as you want! In the video below I show a fun mitten design I did with three different colors, but you can go even bigger with your designs! Have fun making cookies this season and don’t forget to tag me in pictures of your creations on Instagram so I can see what you come up with!
A Solid Soft Sugar Cookie
3/ 4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/ 4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/ 2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/ 4 tsp sea salt (1/ 2 tsp any other kind of salt)
1. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer set at medium, beat together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy. (about 2-4 minutes)
2. Add in eggs and vanilla and mix on a low setting until incorporated.
3. Stir in the flour, baking powder and salt just until all combined.
4. Place cookie dough on a sheet of cling film and form it into a square shape, then wrap tightly in the cling film and chill in the refrigerator for about an hour.
5. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a half sheet pan by covering with parchment paper.
6. After an hour roll the cookie dough out on a floured surface to about 1/ 4 to 1/ 2 inch thick. Cut the dough into whatever shapes you want and place onto the half sheet pan and bake, one sheet pan at a time, for 6 to 10 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies are just starting to brown. They may seem a bit squishy, but they should get more solid once cooled.
7. Place on a cooling rack and let cool completely before icing.
Royal Icing for Decorating Sugar Cookies
450g icing sugar
2 egg whites
1 1/ 2 tsp vanilla extract
Gel food coloring
Small piping bags
1. Place icing sugar, egg whites, vanilla and salt in a bowl and whisk until smooth. If you want, you can use an electric mixer and mix on low to start and then high when the powdered sugar is incorporated with the egg. It should take about four minutes with the electric mixer. The consistency should be pretty thick.
2. Separate the icing into different bowls to color them, the amount of bowls will depend on the amount of colors you want to end up with.
3. Once separated, start creating the colors you want. I highly suggest starting with one drop of each color and adding as you go because you can always add more color, but you can’t really take color out. Place cling film on the bowls you’re not working with at the time, so the icing doesn’t harden.
4. Once you have all the colors you need place some of each color into individual piping bags. Make sure your icing is pushed all the way to the bottom of the bag. Twist the open ends of each bag to seal them. Set aside. (You may want to separate these into their own pile or label them as “outline”, so you don’t mix them up with the next set of piping bags you’ll be preparing.)
5. Add teaspoons of water at a time, to each bowl of icing and mix until you lift your spoon and the icing holds it’s shape on top but disappears back into the icing in about five seconds. This might take some trial and error, but if your icing gets to watery you can always add more icing sugar to thicken it back up. Place all finished icings into individual piping bags and twist the ends to seal them. These are your “flood” icings.
6. For decorating, cut small holes at the tips of your piping bags and use the outline icings to outline your cookies with whatever colors are the main ones of each cookie. As shown, I used a yellow and red outline icing on my mitten.
7. Once outlined, use the main color’s flood icing to fill in the outlined shapes. As you can see, I placed a generous amount of red and yellow flood icing on the mitten cookie.
8. You can use the tip of a small, sharp knife or a toothpick to lead your flood icing to the outlined edges. Most of the icing should fill in itself but there will be sections you’ll need to fill in by spreading the icing a little.
9. While the main color’s flood icing is still wet you can add other flood icings to the cookie to create patterns. I put some other colors on my mittens to create polka dots and feathering. There are lots of options for you to choose from!
10. If you want some more raised elements like wording or other outlines you can pipe more outline icing on the cookie once the flood icing has had a chance to set. You can wait 30 minutes to hours before doing this part but know the icing won’t be completely set for a few hours, so use caution.
11. I hope these instructions make sense but know I’m an armature baker so I may have made mistakes. Please let me know if you have any questions!