I’ve long been intimidated by decorating sugar cookies – always wanting mine to look like this, but being so scared of failure that I haven’t even tried….
…until I saw this tutorial over at PW Cooks. They made it look so fun and easy, I just had to try it. It took me most of a cold and blustery Sunday and my kitchen was covered in powdered sugar and various shades of royal icing by the end of it all, but I conquered my fear of sugar cookie cutouts decorated with royal icing.
While mine don’t look quite as good as theirs, I think for a first timer I did pretty well. And after the first dozen or so, it wasn’t even that tedious or painful. It actually may have even been fun after a while. Or maybe that was just the delirium talking. No, I think it was actually enjoyable. At least that’s what I’m telling myself as I contemplate decorating the other half (I got ambitious and made a double batch).
Also, this is probably not the kind of decorating you want to do with your kindergartner. It’s messy. And takes a steady hand and a modicum of patience. And unless you want your cabinets glued together with royal icing,you might want to save this ’til the kids are a little older.
I’ve also been trying for years to make a successful whole-wheat sugar cookie. One that wasn’t overpowered by the flavor of the flour, had a tender crumb, and wasn’t too dark. I think this year I finally succeeded.
- Beat butter in the bowl of your electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds
- Add sugar, agave nectar and baking powder; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.
- Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined
- Reduce speed to low and slowly add in the flour until it is all combined.
- Divide the dough into four parts; chill for 2 hours in the fridge, or 45 minutes in the freezer (if you’re impatient like I am).
- On a lightly floured surface, roll 1/4 of the dough at a time to 1/8-inch thickness.
- Cut out with your favorite holiday-shaped cookie cutters
- Place cutouts on cookie sheets lined with silpat liners
- Bake at 375F for 7-9 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very light brown.
- Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.
- Combine meringue powder and water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
- Beat on high until foamy
- Sift the powdered sugar and add slowly with the mixer on low speed
- Add the extract (I used a combination of vanilla and orange)
- Increase the speed to high and beat for 5 minutes, or until stiff peaks form – icing should be glossy
If you’re like me and have ever been intimidated by the thought of trying to decorate sugar cookies, I recommend you try this technique. I was much easier than I thought it would be, and once I got the hang of it, it didn’t really take that long.
And, if you’re still just a simple sprinkles and dragees kind of person, this cookie recipe is a good base for that as well. You could easily change up the extract you use, subbing orange, lemon, coconut, almond, or whatever you prefer for the vanilla I used.