Sunday, December 11, 2011

Day 11: Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I'll admit it, I've never really loved sugar cookies. Take me to a bakery case full of cookies, and I'll always go for the chocolate. Every time.

However, fancy schmancy sugar cookies with royal icing have always intrigued me. "How do they get that icing so perfect?" I was determined to try it myself.

I did some research online, and found a great tutorial at Annie's Eats. If you're going to try it, you should definitely check out her site; she explains a lot of little tips & tricks that will help you succeed.

But really? It wasn't that hard! It just takes a lot of patience. And kind of a lot of dishes. (But just find someone like my Business Man, who cleaned up after me all night. Best husband ever.)

First, you start out with the sugar cookies. (Duh.) And these are delicious. Usually I don't love sugar cookies because they're too plain, too bland. These have just a hint of almond flavoring and a wonderful texture.

Once they've baked and cooled, it's time for the royal icing! It whips together quickly in the stand mixer, and then you just have to thin it down to the right consistency. Once it's thin enough to pipe, you can use food coloring to dye it whatever color your heart desires. It's best to use gel dyes because they won't alter the consistency of the icing.

Then, you pipe the outlines of the cookies, and let it set up.

Once it's hard, you thin the icing down even more to "flood" the centers. I did this very carefully with a spoon, but you could use piping bags as well. The hardened outlines keep the frosting inside the cookie, and you can use a toothpick to direct the icing where to go. If there's any air bubbles, you can pop them with the tip of a toothpick.

And once the flooded icing sets up, you can pipe even more decorations on top! There are no boundaries with royal icing... only your creativity.

I really enjoyed making these cookies, even though it took me a good 4 hours start to finish. (From baking to the last coat of icing.)

My favorite ones are the ornaments. I need a little more practice on not letting my icing bleed together.

And I also love the snowflakes.

I'm just so happy with how these turned out! I can see this becoming a new "thing" for me. (Just as cake pops were my "thing" for a good three months last winter.) Now I will be insisting on making sugar cookies for each and every occasion.

Also, if you don't feel up to making royal icing, these cookies would be fabulous with any basic frosting. They are really tasty.

Sugar Cookies

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups flour


Using a mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add powdered sugar; blend until smooth. Blend in egg, almond extract, and vanilla. Add flour and salt; beat until smooth. Chill dough until firm, at least 1 hour.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375*F. Roll out dough to a 1/4-inch thickness on a well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters and place on greased cookie sheets.

Bake 8-10 minutes. (Cookies should not brown.) Let cool, then frost as desired.

Royal Icing

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons meringue powder
  • 5 tablespoons water


Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the icing to an airtight container*. This is the stiffest the icing will be. Add water gradually (1/2 teaspoon at a time) until icing has reached a consistency for piping.

Once icing has reached consistency for piping, you may add food coloring to dye the icing whatever color you please. Use this icing to pipe the outlines of your cookies. Let icing harden.

To fill the insides of your cookies, thin down the icing even more, using only 1/2 teaspoon water at a time. The icing should drip off the spoon and be reabsorbed in the bowl within a few seconds. Use this icing to flood the center of the cookies, using a toothpick to help guide it along if necessary. Let the flood icing harden before piping more decorations on top.

*Try to keep icing in airtight containers at all times. This will prevent it from drying out.

Source: Both from Annie's Eats


Jess said...

Woah, okay that is amazing! Sara, you are seriously talented! If this is day 11 of awesome food posts... then I have some stuff I need to catch up on... and some seriously jealous drooling to do! :)

LauraKatie said...

I've always wondered how people create icing with such clean edges- now I know the secret! Thanks Sara!

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