I got this recipe from a friend, who got it from a friend, who got it from Who-Knows-Where. I think it is a pretty basic recipe, similar to most sugar cookie recipes. Not all sugar cookies are created equal – sometimes they look beautiful but taste awful. I like this recipe because it is not only easy, but the cookies are super yummy. I will disclose that this recipe was titled, “NO FAIL SUGAR COOKIES”. I can tell you that I have, in fact, failed with these cookies, but only out of User Error (like forgetting an ingredient).
This recipe makes about 60 medium-sized cookies.
- 6 cups flour
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 2 cups butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract (I use vanilla bean paste) or desired flavoring (I use LorAnn’s Almond Emulsion)
- 1 tsp. salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees for at least a half hour before baking cookies.
- Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add eggs and vanilla/extract.
- Mix well.
- Mix dry ingredients and add a little at a time to butter mixture.
- Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.
- Divide dough into about 6 balls. Roll each ball in between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Roll it out to the desired thickness (I usually do a quarter inch) and then place the dough and paper on a cookie sheet (I stack them all on a cutting board) and leave it in the refrigerator. Continue rolling out the rest of the dough balls between sheets of paper until you have rolled them all. By the time you are finished, the first batch should be chilled enough to cut. Re-roll leftover dough and repeat the process. I usually do this the day before and let the dough chill over night.
- CHILL dough for at least an hour. The key to the cookie not spreading is that the dough needs to be chilled and stay chilled when you pop it in the oven.
- Cut into desired shape.
- Bake on un-greased baking sheet at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges. I use one of the parchment paper sheets to line the cookie sheet so it is an easy clean up and I can keep using the same cookie sheets if I have a large batch to make. Thick cookies (about a half inch thick) look very nice and professional but take a little longer to bake.
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- ½ tsp almond extract (I use LorAnn’s Almond Emulsion)
- ½ cup warm water (don’t add it all at once so you can control the consistency of the icing)
- Combine powdered sugar, meringue powder, and extract. It is important to measure these ingredients accurately because if you use too much water or too little meringue powder, then the icing will not harden.
- Add about half of the water and mix.
- Add a little water at a time until it is the right consistency. I make a thick icing for the outline and then a thinner icing of the same color for the filling/inside the shape. The trick to the thickness is scooping up a spoonful of icing and then plopping it back into the bowl. Count until the icing is completely flush/re-settled into the bowl. You should count to 8-10 for the thick icing for the outline before it smooths out with the rest of the icing. The thinner icing should take 5-8 seconds. If it is too thick just add a VERY little amount of water at a time and if it is too thin just add a little powdered sugar. (I usually cheat and make a medium consistency (about 7 seconds) that I use for the outline and the inside of the shape.)
- Dye icing if you want a specific color (I use Americolor Soft Gel Paste).
- Transfer icing to a piping bag or mini squeeze bottle. Wilton’s sells ketchup bottle type containers that are nice and easy to use, or you can use piping bags. I use a Wilton’s 3 tip for the outline and a Wilton’s 5 for the filling. Royal Icing will harden quickly so ALWAYS keep your icing covered, including your piping bags. I place a wet paper towel at the bottom of a tall glass so the tip of the piping bag stays wet.
- To get that 3D/layered effect, wait until the bottom coat is dry before adding details.
- Do not refrigerate unused icing, just keep it in a tightly sealed container.
My girlfriends and I get together a few times a year to decorate cookies. We bring our own cookies and then each bring a batch or two of icing in an assigned color to share with the group. I make my cookies ahead of time and then freeze them. I let them dry COMPLETELY (at least 24 hours), stack a couple, wrap them in seran wrap, then aluminum foil, and place them in a sealed container in the freezer. I take them out to defrost the day before I need them.
Don’t be afraid to decorate sugar cookies. Be creative and try different techniques. People go crazy over sugar cookies.
You are the only one that will notice any little flaws (and just eat the big mistakes!). Enjoy!
For more ideas, go to my DebbiePinsALot Decorated Sugar Cookies Board on Pinterest.