About two years ago I found the desire to start decorating sugar cookies, like really decorate with royal icing and all that jazz. In my quest for knowledge I stumbled upon many blogs highlighting this hobby. I was hooked! On decorating, on food blogs, on expanding my baking skills, and on wanting to start my own blog. I have tried a lot of different recipes and techniques over the past two years. I doubt I am done experimenting, but currently I am hooked on the recipes from Sweet Sugar Belle, she produces AMAZING cookies and I appreciate her simplified approach to both cookies and icing.
I'm not going to give step-by-step directions because I am most definitely an amateur who mimics the work of others. For better directions, inspiration, and sheer magnificence, visit some of these sites. These are some of my favorites and where I've learned everything I know. I hope you get hooked too!
I made this cookies for my homeroom as a Valentine's Day treat. I have been a little short with the class the past couple of weeks, so I thought it was about time I baked for them. These are a fantastic, simple decorated cookie. The dough does spread a little, but for most cut outs, I don't find that to be a problem. If you notice from the pictures, the icing was definitely too thick, but I was too lazy to thin it out more. I always bake my cookies one day and decorate the next. The making, dying, and bagging of icing takes a lot of time! The set up before the decorating actually begins is about an hour for me. To keep these cookies simple, I outlined about five cookies and then flooded. I let the cookies dry for about five hours and then piped a second outline and dipped that outline in sprinkles to match the icing color. Let the cookies dry a full 24 hours before packaging, stacking, or storing.
Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing Yield - 4-5 dozen 2-3”: cookies Adapted from Sweet Sugar Belle
Sugar Cookies 4 sticks (1 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature 3 cups powdered sugar 2 eggs 4 teaspoons vanilla 5 - 5 1/2 cups flour, start with 5 cups, add more as needed 4 teaspoons baking powder 1 teaspoon salt
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Whisk together the eggs and vanilla in a small bowl and then add that to the butter beating until combined. Sift together the dry ingredients onto parchment paper and then add into the butter little by little. The dough is finished when it is combined but not sticky.
The dough does not need to be refrigerated unless you are not using right away. Divide into 4 sections and cover in plastic wrap until you are ready to roll out.
Roll out dough to 1/4" and cut into shapes. Use powdered sugar to dust the rolling pin and surface. Bake at 400 °F for 7-8 minutes. Do not brown the cookies. Cool on a wire rack and then decorate.
Royal Icing Yield - A lot! Fills a 5 quart mixing bowl, enough to decorate about 9 dozen cookies Or half the recipe, in parenthesis Adapted from Sweet Sugar Belle
4 pounds powdered sugar, 2 big bags (2 pound) 3/4 cup meringue powder (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons meringue powder) 1 1/3-1/2 cup warm water (2/3-3/4 cup) 2 tablespoons vanilla or other oil free extract (1 tablespoon)
In the bowl of a stand mixer with a whisk attachment mix together the sugar and the meringue powder. Slowly stream in the water and the vanilla. At first the mixture will be liquidy, but increase the speed to high and beat for 7-10 minutes. The royal icing will become thick and smooth. Test the icing by spooning out sample over the bowl and creating a line, the line should disappear in about 12 seconds. I use this consistency for outlining and detail. Add more water as needed to get to the right consistency. I find this icing to be really thick, but that is always preferred because it is easy to thin with water.
Separate the icing into bowls and color with gel color. Fill your piping bags as needed for outlining, thin the rest of the icing a drop of water or two at a time for flooding purposes.