Friday, February 12, 2010

Sugar Cookies & Royal Icing

With only eleven days until we leave for China, you would think I'd have more important things to do than post a sugar cookie recipe! Not promising I won't leave this recipe for another, but this is currently our favorite. I leave the dough extra thick so that they are easier for everyone to decorate. The royal icing makes lots and the egg whites are cooked. I don't like the taste of meringue powder so it is worth the extra step.

This isn't the most flattering picture, but I wanted to document the Valentine cookies Charlie decorated for himself and Mike. Rob already licked the icing off so I'm not sure who decorated his.

Sugar Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen 4-inch cookies
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and more if needed
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Royal Icing (See below)
Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. In a separate bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Turn out dough, and divide in half. Flatten each half into a disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds of oven. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough on a lightly floured work surface to just under 1/4-inch thick, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. Chill in refrigerator until firm, about 30 minutes. Cut out cookies using desired cutters or templates. Transfer to parchment-lined baking sheets as you work. Roll out scraps, and repeat once. Repeat with remaining disk of dough. Chill cookies in freezer until very firm, about 15 minutes.
Bake cookies, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Decorate with icing. (Cookies can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 week.)
From Martha Stewart Living, December 2009

Royal Icing
5 egg whites
6 T sugar
5 tsp water
3/8 tsp cream of tartar
Combine and cook over simmering water to 160F.
Add pinch of salt. Whisk eggs with mixer on med-high to soft peaks. Beat in 2 tsp lemon juice and 5 cups powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Beat in 1 tsp vanilla and 1/4 tsp almond extract. Add water or sugar to reach desired consistency.

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