I’ve been in an extra festive mood this holiday season, and I know exactly the reasons why. Reflecting back on my life a year ago, things are quite different today. Most notably, beautiful new friendships have formed, and I’m beginning to find more creative outlets for my talents and passions. Happiness and contentment seem to place me in a satiable Christmas spirit, so I’ve been finding ways to celebrate as much as possible. One Christmas tradition long held in my family is to make and decorate sugar cookies. Each year they get a little prettier as our icing techniques improve. This year, the bar on aesthetics was not only raised, it was literally blown away. I happen to have become friends with a talented local cake artist. Heather let me help her with a fun cake project for the Shadow Art Fair. Now it was her turn to play in my kitchen. Armed with a Kitchen Notebook page that I clipped from the 2006 edition of Gourmet Magazine (RIP), Heather and I played with a fun royal icing, flooding technique. It was new to both of us and really very easy to do. Please believe me on how simple this is to do. All you need is a few piping bags of colored royal icing, a wooden skewer (or equivalent), and bit of imagination.
Iced Sugar Cookies
Makes about 6 dozen cookies
3 cups flour
1 ½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 sticks plus 3 TBS unsalted butter, softened
1 scant cup of sugar
1 TBS milk
2 ½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp lemon zest
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy and well blended. Add egg and mix until combined. Mix in milk, vanilla, and lemon zest. Gradually stir in flour mixture until well blended. Refrigerate dough until cold (at least one hour or up to several days).
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Roll out dough on floured surface to ⅛-in thickness . Cut out desired shapes and place on parchment-lined baking sheets. Chill cut cookies for ~10 minutes in the refrigerator and then transfer baking sheet to the oven. Bake 8 minutes or until edges are golden. Allow cookies to cool completely before icing.
For recipes, tips, and more ideas on using royal icing visit Sweetopia, a truly talented and creative cookie decorator.
Trace the border of cookie with icing and then “flood” the entire area with icing, staying within the marked edges. Using a contrasting color, pipe vertical lines, dots, or concentric circles over the flooded surface. Form design by lightly pulling a skewer through the contrasting icing at various intervals. Wipe skewer clean between each pull.
technique image from Gourmet, December 2006