Monday, December 12, 2011

the perfect christmas sugar cookies {complete with royal icing}

Honestly, these are the best sugar cookies I've ever tasted.  Now I suppose I'm partial, seeing as it's my Gramma's recipe.  She worked in her family-owned bakery for most of her life.  So if you can't trust my taste-buds, maybe you can trust the fact that she was exposed to hundreds of confections throughout the years...and we all know, you only personally use those recipes that keep people coming back for more.  And come back for more we did!

You can decorate these cookies with boring 'ole sugar on top...if that's what you're partial to and it seems to strike your fancy.  But I prefer to top these lovies with some real royal icing, thank you very much.  The crunch of the icing combined with the softness of this cookie is what my dreams are made of.

So fire up that oven and get crack-a-lackin'!  It's almost Christmas and none of us have much time to spare!  {of course, these are tasty all year you could make these during another season...but for me, that would be cruel and unusual punishment to this-here mouth of mine...}

Gramma Willey's Sugar Cookies
{makes about 7 dozen small cookies}

What you'll need:

1 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
3 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla

Make it:

Cream butter & sugar.
Add eggs.
Add dry ingredients.
Add milk & vanilla.

On a floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4".

With cookies cutters,
cut into shapes
and place 2" apart onto an un-greased baking sheet.

Optional: sprinkle with {boring} sugar.

Bake 350° for 12 minutes, 
or until light golden brown on the bottom.

Transfer to wire racks to cool.

If you made right choice to skip the sprinkled sugar step
then go ahead and
frost with {exciting!} royal icing {recipe below} once completely cooled.

Real Royal Icing
{makes about 3 cups}


What you'll need:

2 large egg whites
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 cups confectioners sugar

Make it:

In the bowl of your electric mixer
{or with a hand mixer}
beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until combined.

Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined and smooth.


in case you are uncomfortable using egg whites}

What you'll need:

4 cups confectioners sugar
3 Tbl meringue powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 - 3/4 cup warm water

Make it:

In the bowl of your electric mixer
{or with a hand mixer}
beat the confectioners sugar and meringue powder until combined.

Add the water and beat on medium high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form.
{5 to 7 minutes}.

Some IMPORTANT information about royal icing:

To cover or "flood" the entire surface of the cookie with icing,
the proper consistency is when you lift the beater,
the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl
remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.

If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water.

The icing needs to be used IMMEDIATELY, 
or transferred to an airtight container until you are ready to use it,
because royal icing HARDENS WHEN EXPOSED TO AIR.
Cover with plastic wrap when not in use.

Want more information on how to actually decorate your cookies with royal icing?
to be directed to a clearly explained tutorial that will teach you how!

{Because royal icing can be tricky if you're a perfectionist, like me.
But if you're used to baking disasters naturally occurring in your kitchen
and only care about eating them instead of their appearance...
...then just go have fun!}

Either way,
Gramma Willey would have been proud!

Email me at enjoytheharvest{at}gmail{dot}com.

p.s.  I have discovered Pintrest!
{thanks to my good friend, Jess!}
That's where I got the idea to decorate my cookies like you see up there.
Addicted {to both the cookies and Pintrest} isn't even a proper term for my fetish.
You should follow me!
{because all the cool kids follow me...}

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Love is to the heart what the summer is to the farmer's year - it brings to harvest all the loveliest flowers of the soul. -Unknown