My baking for this year finished up on a batch of Sugar Cookies, which I rarely ever attempt because I have just never gotten them right. Either the cookie is wrong because I’ve rolled them too thin or over baked them, or the icing turns out like crap. This year, I wanted to play and decided to try again. I think I did them right this time.
The way I had done these when I was younger, the icing we used was really more like a glaze and was super thin. It was incredibly difficult to work with when decorating unless you only wanted to coat the cookie. That and it just always tasted a little off. The cookies were always on the thin side and crunchier. I like a thicker, softer sugar cookie and I have just never been able to get that.
After digging around for recipes, I ran across one that is really the same one I’ve always used, but I was determined not to roll them out too thin. The problem with the thinner cookies is that it is almost impossible to transfer them from the surface you rolled them out on to the pan without absolutely mangling the shape. Sicking was always an issue as well.
This time, I put parchment paper on my count and taped it down. It didn’t work great as it pulled out of the tape, but if I was careful, it stayed in place and my dough didn’t stick. The thicker cookies also made it easier to hold their shape even the times they did want to cling a bit.
My other issue is that I just don’t have any good cookie cutters, probably because I have always hated to try and do these so never bought any. I wanted some fun shapes, so I created a tree and a snowman template with cardstock paper and just used a really sharp knife to cut around it. I was really shocked at how well those turned out.
Soft Sugar Cookies
1/2 Cup Butter (only use real butter)
1/4 Cup Shortening
1 Cup Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 1/2 Cups Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Salt
Cream together shortening, butter and sugar until smooth. Add eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Chill for at least 2 hours. Roll out on floured surface (parchment paper preferred) to between 1/8 inch and 1/2 inch (depending on thickness preference). Cut into desired shapes and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake @ 400° for 7 – 10 minutes. Cool and frost.
Both kids really got into helping decorate. Because they were helping, I didn’t mess with icing consistency. If I’d been doing these on my own, I would have made 2 batches of each color, each at a different consistency. With royal icing you can have a thicker one for piping and a thinner one to “flood” or fill in and give a smooth surface to the finished cookie. I figured it would be harder for the kids to mess with the thinner version so I keep mine thick.
Royal Icing for Sugar Cookies
4 T. Meringue Powder
4 Cups Powdered Sugar (I weigh mine for accuracy, so 1lb)
6 T. Water
1 tsp. Vanilla
Food Coloring (I used icing gel colors)
Put everything in a mixer and blend together slowly until thoroughly combined. Mixture will be on the thick side. Divide into desired batches and add colors. To thin, add 1/2 tsp water at a time, mixing after each, until you get the consistency you want.
Please note that this will begin to harden if it is left to sit unworked. If leaving in a bowl, mix occasionally to keep the consistency.
Something I found really interesting in doing these, even though the glaze I used to use was basically powdered sugar, milk and vanilla, this thicker version of pretty much the same thing tasted better to me. I don’t know if it was because I got the thickness of my cookies better or if it was because there was just overall more icing on the cookies, but these were some of the best tasting sugar cookies I’ve had.
So many of these ended up messy and crazy looking (most of those belong to the MC and BG), but it was an absolute blast. It is very likely that these will end up on my must have list of holiday baking.