Last year I went through my Homes and Gardens Ultimate Cookie Book and found this wonderful photo of a Santa Sugar cut out cookie.
It has been my inspiration photo ever since I found it. Now last year I had very little experience working with royal icing let alone decorating, and unfortunately last years cookies were more pink than anything. With one more year of experience I was able to tackle the Santa cut out cookies with success. I felt more prepared and I had an awesome plan. I will be doing a separate post on how I planned and executed my Christmas treats later.
One of the problems I faced was finding room in our small kitchen to roll out the sugar cookie dough. Also, I had to figure out where to put everything once it was finished. Thankfully everything fit back in to the tub that I was using :).
I only had one little problem on Wednesday… I lost my wedding band. I usually only misplace my rings. Sometimes I leave them in the bedroom, bathroom, or on a bookshelf in the kitchen. I almost had a panic attack because of how long we had been searching. I went through my dresser, the bathroom, and the kitchen. We searched for 30 minutes and then finally my husband found it lodged in the register next to the bed. I was so happy that he found it. Once I knew where my ring was I was able to get back to decorating.
I started decorating the cookies the week before Christmas. I outlined and flooded half the cookies at a time. I tried using a squeeze bottle and it was so much easier on my arm and made flooding the cookies a breeze. I made and rolled out 4 batches of cookies. I was able to outline and flood 186 cookies over 4 days which is amazing!
Eventually I would get in to a zone and would just pipe for hours and not even realize how much time has passed. Here are some photos of the cookies :).
I am very proud at how well these cookies turned out. The sugar cookie recipe is Ella’s Sugar Cookie recipe that I found off of Annie’s eat’s. Also she has an amazing step by step tutorial on how to decorate with royal icing. I have used this tutorial many times. I have made this sugar cookie recipe around 10 times and I have decorated around 5 sets of cookies. With each batch I seem to be getting better and better…then again practice makes perfect :). At times I wondered why I had taken on such a large task but in the end it was worth all the hard work.
Here is the recipe:
Ella’s White Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 ½ c. sifted flour
Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. Yields ~40 cookies.
Here is the tutorial:
When I started out I had white icing. Then I had pink… and still pink…raspberry …dark raspberry and finally RED! whew for a while I did not think I was going to get the bright fire engine red. It took two containers of red gel to get the color I wanted. I think I may try the food coloring drops next time to see if it is easier.
Here is the recipe:
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container. This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick. Add a little more liquid and try again.) Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along. Allow to set.
Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired. Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid. Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.
Decorating …. all sorts of fun :
Finally I decorated the cookies last and I can promise you one thing I will never use sprinkles for eyes again. Whew it was a lot of work to get them on the cookies! It could be a little frustrating at time,s but since I gave my self almost an entire week to finish these cookies I was not under as much stress.
These cookies are super addictive and you can not stop eating them. I will admit I have probably eaten 20 of these in the past week. I hope you have as much success with this recipe as I have. Enjoy!