Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recipe: Holiday cookies

My husband and I aren't really big on celebrating holidays. It's nice to have the time off work, and it's good to see friends and family that we don't get to see very often, but the whole out-of-control consumerism turns us right off. We prefer to give gifts throughout the year instead of concentrating on a single month, and some years we don't even bother to put up a tree.

We aren't all bah-humbug though; one of our simple pleasures is baking and decorating cookies to share with friends and co-workers. Here is an easy sugar cookie recipe that is sure to please.

Sugar Cookies
3 Cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 C sugar
2 sticks salted butter, cold
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 3/4 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 pure almond extract

Royal Icing
4 Tbs meringue powder
scant 1/2 C water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2-1 tsp light corn syrup
a few drops of clear extract

Sugar cookie ingredients

Combine flour and baking powder.

Cream together the sugar and butter.

Add egg and extracts and mix well.

Gradually add flour mixture and beat until just combined; be sure to scrape down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly

Knead together with your hands

Roll out onto a floured surface

and cut into shapes

Place on a baking sheet and put into the freezer for about 10 minutes to chill. Chilling the dough helps the cut-out cookies hold their shape

Bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack

Royal icing ingredients

Combine meringue powder and water, and beat until foamy

Sift in powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. Add corn syrup and extract

Increase sped to med-high and beat 5-10 minutes until icing is glossy, and stiff peaks form.

Separate the icing into bowls and cover with clingfilm, pressing the wrap onto the icing until ready for use. To color, use gel paste coloring, as it won't compromise or thin the icing.
To thin the icing for flooding, add a teaspoon of water to the icing and stir with a rubber spatula. If it is still too thick, add 1/2 tsp more, and if needed another 1/4 tsp. The flooding icing should be the consistency of thick syrup or glue.

Decorate by flooding with icing

Pipe design using stiff royal icing

Sprinkle with edible glitter, if desired.

Enjoy with a cup of coffee or tea

Click here for printable recipe