For years I have wanted to decorate fancy sugar cookies, but really did not know how to get that porcelain look. In rummaging through one of my favorite recipe sites, Annie’s Eats, I came across this wonderful recipe along with a royal icing tutorial for the whole “fancy” process. This cookie is sturdy enough to keep its shape while cooking, but has a tender texture when eaten. And the icing process, while a little time consuming (waiting for the different steps to set), is much easier than I thought it would be. The results are so worth the time you put in. I found the teapot and teacup cookie cutters here and the oven mitt (ahem, actually, it’s a mitten) here.
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
1. Cream butter in a mixing bowl. Add in powdered sugar and mix well.
2. Blend in remaining ingredients.
3. Place dough between two layers of plastic wrap. Press dough to flatten it some, cover up any exposed dough, and place on a plate or small cookie sheet. Chill until firm, about 30-45 minutes.
4. Roll out dough to no thinner than 1/4″ on a well-floured surface. Cut out cookies and place on a greased baking sheet.
5. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cooled.
Yield: depends on size of your cookie cutters. I got 50+ cookies out of a double batch.
Source: Annie’s Eats
The Royal Icing
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water
1. 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).
2. 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.)
3. 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.
4. 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 what is still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Yield: Makes enough to decorate at least one batch of the above sugar cookies, using 4-5 colors.
Source: Annie’s Eats (Her photos and tutorial are in this link as well…..great step by step photos!)