What’s a holiday without cookies? There are certain scents that make it feel like it’s the holiday season, and the smell of vanilla when I’m baking cookies in my kitchen always reminds me of the crisp, cold days this season brings. It makes me feel like making hot chocolate and curling in bed with a warm blanket to watch the sunset. ( Like I have the time!)
Anyway, you need to learn at least one recipe, and this is a good one. Basic sugar cookies. You can use them for Halloween and Christmas this year. I make the royal icing recipe I used for the cookie pops a while back. I am happy to report I have mastered the consistency. (Now I need to master straight lines!… My moons are a litte shaky) The secret is adding the water a little at a time. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup of warm water. Add 1/4 cup first, beat it and then add a little bit more until you get the right consistency, as it is described on the recipe.
For the cookies:
Yield: 20 cookies
1 1/2 cups butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface to 1/2 an inch thick, at least. Cut into shapes with Halloween cookie cutters.
- Bake 11 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely. You’ll know they are done when they begin to turn golden brown in the edges.
Royal Icing Using Meringue Powder:
Yields: 3 cups
For the Royal Icing:
4 cups (440 grams) confectioners’ (powdered or icing) sugar
3 tablespoons (30 grams) meringue powder
1/2 cup warm water
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon extract (vanilla, lemon, almond)
- In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder until combined. Add the water and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes).
- If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. To cover or ‘flood’ the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.
- The icing needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container as royal icing hardens when exposed to air. Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.
- Separate your icing into as many bowls as you need, depending on what colors you want to use. Add the food coloring with a toothpick, a little bit goes a long way
- Food Coloring (I use Gel Pastes that can be found at cake decorating and party stores or else on-line)
- Regarding the flavoring, I didn’t use any at all. I wanted pure white frosting, so if you want it to remain white, use a clear extract, such as almond.
We’re including this video from Whimsical Cookies, which was very useful to me to get the idea of how to decorate the cookies:
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