December 06, 2011

' Tis the Season...

Christmas cookies are perhaps the very best part of the holiday season.  I get a bit overzealous when deciding how many varieties I can feasibly make.   Others try to be the voice of reason, but nevertheless I get swept up in a cookie frenzy wanting to bring out all the old favorites and at least a few new recipes that look promising.

The one classic (besides gingerbread) that can't be left out are sugar cookies.  They are almost everyone's favorite and decorating them is something everyone can take part in.  I usually gather every last sprinkle, every kind of decoration and all of the luster dust I can find for this particular project, as I tend to get a little "Martha Stewart" during the whole process...

Luster dust is an edible food color that comes in powdered form.  By mixing it with a drop or two of  vodka, it becomes a "paint" to color the frosting or the cookie itself.  It comes in every imaginable color and for snowflake cookies that are decorated white, the silver or iridescent luster dust looks beautiful.  It can deepen the colors of the frosting or just add a little shine or sparkle to give them an extra special look.  When using, make sure you use "non-toxic" or "food-grade" luster dust, as some are not meant for consumption.

Sugar Cookies
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
  • 4 sticks butter, room temp
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp finely grated lemon zest (optional)
  1. Combine flour and salt in a bowl, set aside.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar.  Beat on medium speed until fluffy and light in color, about 5 minutes.  If using a hand mixer about 7 - 8 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs and beat on medium high speed, then add the vanilla and lemon zest if using.
  4. Add flour in three batches and mix until just combined.
  5. Divide the dough in half,  form it into disks and wrap tightly in plastic.
  6. Chill for at least 2 hours before rolling out.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Dust surface with flour before rolling out.  
  9. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters and place on baking sheets.  If dough gets too warm, put cookie cutouts in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Put in oven, on middle rack and bake for 12 to 15 minutes.
  10. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to rack to cool completely.
*This recipe will yield a few dozen cookies.  Remember to bake cookies of the same size together.  If you have a large cookie cutter and a small one, bake them separately as they will not bake in the same amount of time.
    Royal Icing
    • 1 lb. powdered sugar
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 5 tbsp meringue powder

    • food coloring
    • assorted sanding sugars
    • sprinkles
    • nonpareils
    - Combine powdered sugar, meringue powder and water until smooth.

    - Icing sets up fairly quickly, do not mix icing until you are ready to frost the cookies.  Use assorted food coloring to dye the frosting.  I prefer to use gel or paste food coloring instead of liquid, a little goes a long way.

    - To pipe frosting, (if you don't own piping bags) put in re-sealable sandwich bag and clip a corner of the bag off and use as a piping bag.

    - Add sprinkles or sanding sugar to your cookies immediately after frosting.
    - Use luster dust after royal icing has set completely.

    Happy Baking!

    cookie from Shellco

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