Perfect Sugar Cookies
1 cup earth balance or butter, room temp
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 1/2 - 2 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Preheat the oven to 400.
Using a mixer, cream together butter and sugar.
In a separate bowl, combine the egg and extracts.
Add to butter and sugar mixture.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Start with 2 1/2 cups of flour.
Slowly add to sugar mixture.
Only add more flour if the dough is too sticky to handle.
Roll out to 1/4" thick and cut out shapes.
Bake 7-10 minutes (the baking time might depend on the shape of the cookie).
This recipe makes about two dozen cookies.
Allow the cookies to cool completely before frosting with royal icing.
3 Tbsp meringue powder
1/4 c water (plus more for thinning)
1 lb powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
In a stand mixer, whisk meringue powder and water until foamy.
Gradually add powdered sugar and extract, mixing until light and airy--about 2 minutes.
If adding color(s), separate into bowls and add gel food coloring for best results then thin to desired consistency.
For flowers and detail work, don't add any additional water to keep the frosting stiff.
For writing, add enough water so the icing falls off of a spoon but still holds its shape.
For flooding--frosting a whole cookie or a section of the cookie--add enough water that then a toothpick is dragged through it, the icing comes back into a flat surface within 15 seconds.
I love eating cutout cookies, but I have to be in the right mood to make them. I make cutout cookies maybe twice a year: always during Christmas and usually one other time when I want to spend the afternoon in the kitchen. With each batch I work on my cookie frosting technique, so it can take upwards of two hours to frost cookies.
I found this sugar cookie recipe a few years ago and have stopped using any other dough. This dough doesn't need to chill and holds its shape nicely. I also like using half vanilla and half almond extract, though you could really use whatever you'd like.
This year I made some leg lamp cookies from A Christmas Story. I was excited to use the cookie cutter but disappointed that the impression for the fishnets didn't show up on the cookies. I had to freehand the stockings and they ended up a bit messy. I gave up the fishnet idea and just made stripes. The lampshades turned out pretty good, though.
Sam frosted some rather fabulous looking cookies as well. Featured here is his flamingo with attached cookie sunglasses.
I decided to double the recipe. While this seemed like a good idea in the moment, Sam and I had around 50 cookies to frost (and some of them were mini cookies, so there were probably more than 50). I ran out of meringue powder and decided to frost the rest the next day after a Michael's run. Royal icing doesn't require meringue powder; however, this is the recipe I enjoy the most. It's easy to achieve the desired consistency and the meringue powder adds a bit of flavor as well as helps the frosting set. The down side is that if I wanted to make these cookies vegan, I wouldn't be able to use this frosting. Next time around I think I'll try a royal icing with corn starch to see how they compare.