If you have been following the little I have been posting about my India trip, then you would know the last few months I have spent mostly traveling from one city to the other to attend one or the other of my friends’ weddings. My trip would not have been this stress free had it not been for my dad’s staff officers who made sure I had someone to pick me up and drop me off at the airport/railway station, who got up at 5 am to check whether I was up and ready to leave for the next destination, who made sure that I got a packed lunch or dinner for train journeys; in a nutshell, they are the ones who made sure everything else was arranged so I could enjoy with my friends or family. They went over and above their job and I know no matter how much I thank them it will not be enough.

I thought of sending them a small token of appreciation for the effort they put in and homemade cookies looked like the perfect thing to give.

Its the Air Force life that has taught me that family means more than blood relatives. So it did not come as a surprise when one of the officers to whom I gave these cookies said, that you don’t thank family. And seriously, that’s what these people are to me. Family.

This was my first time making sugar cookies, as well as my first with royal icing.

For the sugar cookies recipe I went with the one given in Sprinkle Bakes cookbook and I was not disappointed. Taste wise they reminded me of the Shrewsbury cookies my dad would get from Pune when I was a kid. And since this recipe doesn’t call for any leavening agent, the cookies retain their shape during baking.

For the royal icing, this post by Sweet Sugar Belle was very helpful. You should definitely read this before attempting to make royal icing. I did scale down the recipe to one third as I knew I won’t require the whole thing. I would also suggest you to read her post on outlining and flooding cookies, if you are a novice like me.

I didn’t get the flood icing consistency right for the first few cookies and as a result the icing wasn’t as smooth. Also I didn’t have the correct nozzle for piping and thus got thicker lines, though I think even with the right tools, I would still need more practice with decorating to get finer results. I also managed to smudge the cookies while composing the shot for the post, since I had to quickly photograph the cookies right after decorating so that they could be wrapped and sent in time. Hence you can see the icing a little smudged in the pictures above. :(

Smudged, or imperfectly decorated, these cookies tasted great and surprisingly even with the icing were not sugary sweet.

For coloring and filling icing bags you HAVE to watch this video. You will seriously look at decorating in a different light after watching this video and will find it more fun than before. Karen’s tricks result in lesser clean up time and more time to sit and relax with that cup of coffee and a perfectly decorated cookie.

Sugar Cookies
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: cookies, dessert
Serves: 30 three inch cookies
Ingredients
  • ½ pound (225 gms) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • pinch of salt (since I used salted butter, I did not add salt)
for Royal icing ( I made a third of the recipe)
  • 4lbs {two bags} confectioner’s sugar
  • ¾ c. meringue powder
  • 1⅓-1½ c. warm water
  • 2-4 tbsp. oil-free extract or flavoring
Instructions
  1. Beat the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over mix at this stage, else the cookies may spread while baking.
  2. Add the beaten egg and vanilla. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as required.
  3. Add the flour (and salt). Mix on low speed till a dough is formed. The dough will clump around the paddle, which is normal and a good sign that the dough is the right consistency. the dough should not be sticky and should be easy to handle.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  5. Working on a well floured surface, knead the dough slightly, squeezing it with your hands to flatten the ball into a disc.
  6. Roll it out to ¼ inch thickness.
  7. Cut out desired shapes from the dough and transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. Be careful not to stretch the cut out shapes or they will be distorted after baking.
  8. Refrigerate the cutouts for 30 minutes, which will help in giving them a crisp shape during baking.
  9. Bake in a 350 F preheated oven for 15- 20 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges.
  10. Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack. Decorate cookies when completely cooled.
for the royal icing:
  1. Add the dry ingredients first. Use your mixer’s whisk attachment to incorporate the sugar and meringue powder.
  2. Add the extract to the water and slowly add it to the dry ingredients while mixing. At first the icing will be very liquid-like.
  3. Continue to mix it at medium-high speed until it is fluffy and stiff peaks form, about 7-10 minutes. Mixing times are approximate, keep your eye it icing and stop mixing as soon as it becomes stiff. Over mixing and oil-containing extracts can keep the icing from setting up, so keep this in mind as you work.
  4. Notes
  5. Royal icing will keep at least a month. I prefer refrigerating it, but it can also be left at room temperature.
  6. For icing consistency for different types of piping see Sweet Sugar Belle's posts.

7 Thoughts on “Sugar Cookies

  1. Lovely cookies!! I need to learn how to decorate cookies and cakes!
    Kiran @ KiranTarun.com recently posted..Coconut & Date Tea CookiesMy Profile

  2. Wowwwww…. those are super cute.. thanks for the wonderful recipe :)
    Hari Chandana recently posted..Lemon and Onion Dal RecipeMy Profile

  3. Speechless. All I’ve got to say is “How did you take that 2nd pic?” :)
    Vidya @ Whats Ur Home Story recently posted..To Keep the Eye MovingMy Profile

  4. lovely cookies …. I always hav a problem with royal icing

  5. I am reading.you post and so far, I am enjoying it. You pictures are soooooo amazing. How did you learn to take these beautiful photos?

    • Thank you Shobee! As for the pictures, I am still learning and my best advice for you is to click as much as you can. Play with different lighting, different set ups. Many bloggers have tutorials on their blog. You can check Sunshine and Smile’s blog- Kankana explains the ins and outs of photography. Then one that personally helped me was the tutorial on Bittersweet’s site. And the Pinch of Yum eBook (there is a link in the side bar below). Also I bought From Plate to Pixel and that was a good read and gave an understanding on food photography. But besides reading, you have to practice and with each click you learn something. :)

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