The pickle man

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Sugar Cookies

 It's December 2 and my kids are wearing sandals and shorts with their Christmas shirts... but we can still dream of snow and make sugar cookies!

So, here are the cookies:
First, make the dough.

4 sticks (1 pound) butter at room temperature
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt (may need a pinch more if using unsalted butter)
1 Tablespoon vanilla

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth (2-3 minutes).  Add eggs, mixing well after each, and vanilla.  Add flour, baking powder, and salt, mixing just until combined.

Wrap in plastic wrap and chill at least 3 hours, or overnight.

Sprinkle your work surface with flour and powdered sugar, generously. Only work with a portion of the dough at a time; leave the remainder in the refrigerator to stay cold.  Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch.  Cut cookies.

Bake on parchment paper at 375 until slightly brown around the edges.   These cookies contain baking powder, so they will spread slightly.  If you want extra-sharp edges, use a recipe without any leavening, such as shortbread.

Mine got a little too brown... I was looking at tile for the master bath...
While the cookies are cooling, prepare the Royal Icing.  Sound fancy? It's remarkably easy.

2 egg whites
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
Food coloring

Beat the egg whites until stiff but not dry.  Add the powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add the lemon juice.  If you want more than one color, separate the icing into bowls and dye each bowl a different color.  You can add water to thin the icing, but be very cautious -- a few drops go a long way!

Place the icing into a piping bag (or a ziploc bag) with a tip inserted into the end (put in the tip before you put in the icing!).  I like a star tip with my kids -- you can't do as fine of a detail, but it is much more forgiving for little hands.

Once the cookies have cooled, pipe on decorative designs.  You can also add sprinkles while the icing is still soft.  The icing will dry hard (it's the same kind I use on gingerbread houses), so the cookies travel extremely well.  I sent some with both my kids to school last Friday.

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