Cookies by the Dozen – Sugar Cookie & Royal Icing Recipes

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing | CHEFS MixDuring my childhood in California, holiday activities always included baking dozens of sugar cookies. After rolling out the buttery dough, my sisters and I cut out favorite shapes and baked them to the palest brown. Then the real fun began: decorating cookies with royal icing tinted in holiday hues and, for glitz and sparkle, colored sugar and silver dragees.

After a little practice using a pastry bag, our inner artists expressed themselves freely. My artistic sisters created intricate designs that garnered “oohs” and “ahs” from everyone. The rest of us favored simple designs using basic “piping” and “flooding” techniques. According to my parents, all the cookies were delightful to behold and delicious to eat.

If baking and decorating sugar cookies is not a tradition in your home, why not add it this year. By following the tips outlined below, you will quickly master the art of decorating with royal icing. Use your own cookie and icing recipes or try ours. At the end of this post, we share a pair of sugar cookie recipes and two royal icing recipes, one that uses meringue powder and one, egg whites.

Plan ahead. For best results, allow two days to complete the baking and decorating process:

Day 1: Bake and cool cookies; make royal icing, pipe and flood cookies with icing; let icing dry at room temperature for 24 hours
Day 2: Embellish cookies with royal icing flourishes and sugar decorations; let icing dry completely before you package them for gifts or display

How to Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing

Rolled Sugar Cookies | CHEFS MixStep 1: Make and bake sugar cookies or other rolled cookies. Roll out chilled dough in small batches on a pastry board dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Remember, thinner cookies (around 1/4-inch thick) are crisp and easy to break while icing. Thicker cookies (around 1/2-inch thick) are less likely to break while you decorate and display them. Dip cookie cutters in flour to prevent sticking. Be sure to cool cookies completely before decorating.

Step 2: Make royal icing. Tint the icing, if desired, blending in food color gel a little at a time. Note that dry royal icing will be about a shade paler than wet icing. If you want deep, vibrant colors, tint the icing with enough food color gel. Store each color of royal icing in a separate small airtight container.

Step 3: Gather your cookie decorating supplies that may include:

  • Sugar cookies or other rolled cookies, cooled completely
  • Royal icing, dyed with each color stored in a separate small airtight container
  • Pastry bags
  • Pastry bag tips (#1 or #2 for small to medium cookies; #3 or #4 for large cookies)
  • Squeeze bottles
  • Toothpicks
  • Cookie decorations like sanding sugar, sprinkles, dragees and pearls

Step 4: Decorate Cookies with Royal Icing

Cookies with Royal Icing | CHEFS Mix1. Pipe or outline cookies: Fill pastry bag fitted with tip with thick royal icing that’s the consistency of toothpaste. Pipe along edge of each cookie, creating a thin outline. Let icing set for at least one hour.

2. Flood or fill-in cookies: Thin royal icing to ideal consistency for “flooding” cookies within the piped border. Fill piping bag or squeeze bottle with icing. Pipe center of cookie with icing. Use a toothpick to push icing in place against the piped border. Pop any air bubbles with toothpick tip. Let icing dry completely for at least 24 hours at room temperature.

“Dragging” is a technique that adds a second color through the flooded icing. While the flooded icing is still wet, add a bit of icing in the second color. Then, use a toothpick to drag the second color through the flooded icing, creating a marbleized effect.

If desired, shake sanding or decorating sugar over wet icing. After icing dries, shake off excess sugar. Decorating Sugar Cookies | CHEFS Mix

3. Embellish: With a pastry bag fitted with tip and filled with thick royal icing in desired color, pipe additional details like dots and curlicues on cookie surface.  Add sugar decorations. Let cookies dry for one or two hours before packaging, displaying or serving.

4, Time Saving Tip: If you’re in a hurry, simply dip the top of each cookie into royal icing tinted and thinned for flooding (see #2, above). Allow cookies to dry for 24 hours. When the icing dries, the cookie  top will be coated with a smooth layer of royal icing.

 

Learn More:

On the web, you’ll find many sites that show how to decorate cookies with royal icing. Here are two tutorials that we like:

 

Your Turn:

Do your holiday activities include baking and decorating cookies? If yes, please share your best tips for for icing and decorating sugar cookies and gingerbread people.

 

Sugar Cookie Recipe from CHEFS Mix

printer-friendly recipeSugar Cookies | CHEFS Mix

Ingredients

1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup Crisco oil
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
4-1/2 cups flour

Directions

1. Beat together powdered sugar, sugar, butter, oil and eggs until smooth. Add vanilla and almond extract. Gradually mix in baking soda and flour.

2. Cover dough and refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees F if making 1/4-inch thick cookies or 325 degrees F if making 1/2-inch thick cookies.

4. Remove dough from refrigerator. Dust pastry board with confectioner’s sugar. Roll out dough to desired thickness: 1/4 inch for thin cookies or 1/2 inch for thick cookies. Cut in desired shapes with any cookie cutter. Sprinkle with plain or colored sugar if you are not going to ice the cookies. Place 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10 to 13 minutes. When done, cookie edges will be lightly browned.

5. If you are in a hurry, shape chilled dough into balls, place 2-inches apart on cookie sheet and flatten with bottom of glass dipped in sugar until about 1/2-inch thick. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes.

6. Let cookies sit on cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes before transferring to wire rack. Cool completely. Ice and decorate if desired.

 

Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe from CHEFS Mix

printer-friendly recipeRolled Sugar Cookies | CHEFS Mix

Ingredients

5 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Confectioner’s sugar

Directions

1. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

2. In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, and vanilla. Stir in flour mixture, taking care not to overmix. Cover and chill dough in refrigerator for at least two hours or overnight.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

4. On pastry board dusted with confectioner’s sugar, roll out dough to 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies 1-inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 6 to 8 minutes.

5. Let baked cookies rest on cookie sheet for 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack and cool completely. When cookies are completely cool, ice and decorate as desired.

 

Royal Icing Recipe with Meringue Powder from CHEFS Mix

printer-friendly recipeRoyal Icing | CHEFS Mix

Ingredients

4 cups confectioners’ or powdered sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons meringue powder
5 tablespoons water
food color gels

Note: Meringue powder replaces raw egg whites in icings and meringues. It’s a fine, white powder made with pasteurized dried egg whites, sugar and other ingredients. When stored in a cool, dry place, meringue powder will last up to two years.

Directions

1. In stand mixer bowl, combine all ingredients on low speed for 7 to 10 minutes. The icing will be a thick white paste. Transfer to airtight container and store at room temperature. To prevent crusting, place a layer of plastic wrap over the surface of the icing. Remove any crusty bits before using the icing. For best results, use within one week. After about a week, the sugar and water may begin to separate. It may be difficult to remix the icing to a perfectly smooth consistencey.

2. When you are ready to use icing, add water, 1/4-teaspoon at a time and stir to incorporate. Continue adding water and stirring until icing reaches desired consistency:

  • For outlining or piping, use a thick royal icing the consistency of toothpaste.
  • For flooding or filling in cookies, use a thinner royal icing. Test by dripping the icing over the bowl. The icing that falls back into the bowl should form a smooth ribbon that stays on the surface for 5 seconds before disappearing.

Once icing reaches the desired consistency, let it rest in bowl for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, gently stir once around to pop any air bubbles that have risen to the surface.

3. If coloring the icing, divide between small containers with lids – one container for each color. Add gel coloring, a drop at a time and stir to blend. Repeat until icing reaches desired tint. Dry royal icing will be about a shade lighter than wet icing. If icing is too thick, stir in water, a 1/4 teaspoon at a time. If too thin, stir in more confectioner’s sugar.

 

Royal Icing Recipe with Egg Whites from CHEFS Mix

printer-friendly recipe

Ingredients

2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted
food color gels

Directions

1. In stand mixer bowl, beat egg whites with the lemon juice until combined. Add sifted confectioners’ sugar and, on low speed, beat until combined and smooth. Transfer to airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To prevent crusting, place a layer of plastic wrap over the surface of the icing. Remove any crusty bits before using the icing.

2. When you are ready to use the icing, warm to room temperature for easier stirring. Add water, 1/4-teaspoon at a time and stir to incorporate. Continue adding water and stirring until icing reaches desired consistency:

  • For outlining or piping, use a thick royal icing the consistency of toothpaste.
  • For flooding or filling in cookies, use a thinner royal icing. Test by dripping the icing over the bowl. The icing that falls back into the bowl should form a smooth ribbon that stays on the surface for 5 seconds before disappearing.

Once icing reaches the desired consistency, let it rest in bowl for about 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, gently stir once around to pop any air bubbles that have risen to the surface.

3. If coloring the icing, divide between small containers with lids – one container for each color. Add gel coloring, a drop at a time and stir to blend. Repeat until icing reaches desired tint. Dry royal icing will be about a shade lighter than wet icing. If icing is too thick, stir in water, a 1/4 teaspoon at a time. If too thin, stir in more confectioner’s sugar.

Cookies by the dozen! See more blogs on cookie baking tips and ideas, right here at CHEFS Mix.

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