Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Cut It Out!

Christmas cookies are a must for the holidays. I make them every year but I usually make my Great Aunt Mary's Sugar Cookie recipe. This year I attempted a royal iced cookie from Cookie Craft that Lorelei from Mermaids Sweets shared with me. This is the second time I've made this recipe and it is really good. I don't think it will replace the other cookie recipe simply because they're so different but it's the perfect cookie for special occasions. Thanks Lorelei for sharing with me!

The first time I made these I made onesie cookies for a baby shower. They were decorated in pink and green and turned out so cute. I'll share those with you another time. It was my first time making them and while the cookies turned out perfectly, my icing job was a little rough. This time around things went a little smoother.

I like this recipe because you roll the cookies between sheets of waxed or parchment paper, which means you don't have to roll them on a counter with excess flour. Which means your cookies won't get tough or dry as you reroll them. Also as long as you work with the dough when it's been chilled properly, it's a breeze to work with. Keeping them cold also ensures that the cookies will keep their shape when you bake them.

These cookies are crisp and sturdy. They're buttery and fragrant. I use a combination of Mexican vanilla and lemon extract in the cookies but you could also use almond extract or even add a little nutmeg or cinnamon to the cookies as well. Lorelei was kind enough to send me the recipe in a word document so I could just print it out. If you'd like the printable recipe for the cookies and icing, just let me know and I'll send it your way.

Rolled Sugar Cookies from Cookie Craft

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla or 1 teaspoon vanilla plus zest of 1 lemon*

Whisk together the flour and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Using your mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. (use paddle attachment). Add the egg and the vanilla (and lemon zest if using) or your extract of choice and mix until well-blended.

With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until the two are thoroughly blended.

Turn the dough onto the work surface and divide it into two or three equal portions. Form each one into a rough disk. Place a cookie sheet sized piece of wax paper or parchment paper on your rolling surface.

Place a sheet of wax paper over the cookie dough and use your hand or rolling pin to slightly flatten and evenly distribute the dough across the paper. Roll the pin over the paper covered dough. If the top paper wrinkles, lift and smooth it. You’re finished rolling when the dough surface is uniform and completely flat and it is easy to roll the pin over the dough. Roll dough to a 1/4-inch thickness.

Slide the rolled-out piece of dough (paper and all) onto a cookie sheet and refrigerate it until its firm – this should be 20-30 minutes. Repeat the rolling process with the remaining dough portions.

When the dough is firm, it will pretty much be stiff as a board, remove it from the refrigerator to your flat work surface. Working with one piece of dough at a time, leaving the others in the fridge to chill until you are ready to use them, cut the dough into the desired shape with cutters. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

After you’ve rolled and cut the dough and the cookie shapes are on the parchment-lined cookies sheets, bake them in the middle rack of your oven for 12-16 minutes or until the cookies start to turn slightly golden around the edges (smaller cookies will be done more quickly). If you decide to bake two sheets of cookies at a time, space your two oven racks evenly in the oven and rotate the cookie sheets halfway through baking (that is, switch the position of the top sheet and bottom sheet and turn both so that the front of each sheet is at the back to promote even baking).

Cool the cookies completely on a rack before icing or decorating.


  • 2 ½ inch cookies – about 30
  • 3 ½ inch cookies – about 16
  • 4 ½ inch cookies – about 12

NOTE: For the sugar cookies, I use 1 tsp. Mexican vanilla and 1 tsp. lemon extract

Royal Icing using Meringue Powder

For Piping:

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 cups Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Meringue Powder
  • 3 tablespoons Warm Water
  • 1 tablespoon (lemon juice) or 1 tsp extract

Makes 4 cups

  • 4 cups Confectioner's Sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 6 tablespoons Warm Water
  • 2 tablespoons (lemon juice) or 2 tsp extract

For Flooding:

Makes 2 cups

  • 2 cups Confectioner's Sugar
  • 4 teaspoons Meringue Powder
  • 6 tablespoons Warm Water
  • 1 tablespoon (lemon juice) or 1 tsp extract

Makes 4 cups

  • 4 cups Confectioner's Sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
  • 12 tablespoons Warm Water
  • 2 tablespoons (lemon juice) or 1-2 tsp extract

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of your electric mixer. Beat on high for 5 minutes if you’re using an electric stand mixer or for 10 minutes if you’re using an electric hand mixer. If your mixer has multiple attachments, use the paddle.

When you reach the desired consistency, its important that you immediately cover the mixture or store in airtight containers.

Piping Consistency

When first mixed, piping icing will start out with the consistency of white glue. When you’ve finished beating the icing, it will be glossy with the consistency similar to that of toothpaste. The icing should squeeze easily out of a #2 tip but should stay in place and hold its shape on the cookie when it lands.

If the icing is too stiff, it’ll be hard to squeeze from the pastry bag and may lift up off the cookie when you finish the outline or detail, and will also tend to “flake off” the cookie readily when dry.

Flood Consistency

When first mixed, flood icing will appear very soupy. Never fear! In 5 minutes your icing will be shiny and an opaque white color with the consistency of heavy cream.

Flood icing is sometimes known as flow icing for a reason, when you squirt it onto a cookie, it immediately flows toward the piped borders.

The icing should be so thin that it puns like water or that its cookie coverage is transparent, and it shouldn’t be so thick that it stays in place when you squirt onto the cookie.

Allow to dry overnight or until no longer tacky.

NOTE: I tripled the cookie recipe and used the amounts for 4 cups of icing. That was way too much icing, so I suggest making the lesser amount of you're only making one batch of cookies.

I used non pareils, dragees, cinnamon imperials and coarse sanding sugar for decoration. Place decorations on while icing is still wet.

What kind of cookies did you make this year? Any favorites?


vanillasugarblog said...

that photo of the xmas balls is absolutely stunning. that blue & white section s/b your header.

Jeanette said...

Your cookies are just yummy looking! My husband and I made a ton of cookies but for some reason they were so hard to roll out. I will have to save your recipe.

oneordinaryday said...

Monica, you are so talented. What a steady hand! The cookies look beautiful. And that pic with the reflection of the mixer is so cool!!!

I found my book waiting for me when I got home today. I can't wait to sit down and read through it. Thank you!!!

Julie said...

Seriously, you should start your own bakery! They're all so fabulous looking!

Diane Schmidt said...

They all look amazing!
What a wonderful job you did :)
I love seeing all you make.

Selba said...

The decorations on the cookies are lovely and pretty...

I've never tried Meringue powder because I don't think they sell it here in the stores (probably there's but at the import stores which cost a fortune) so I always make the very basic icing recipe.

Sophie said...

Smooth indeed--these are gorgeous! Oh man, I wish I could have one but they are almost too pretty to eat. I bet Santa loved these :D. By the way, I love the new header, such a pretty picture.

Lissaloo said...

Very pretty, if I am ever brave enough to make these I know where to get the scoop :)

Unknown said...

well yeah now I'm embarrassed of my little cookie attempts these are so very very gorgeous!

I wish I had time for it....some day I will...some day:)

Plain Chicken said...

My New Year's resolution is to make pretty sugar cookies like this. Thanks for posting. I am going to try this in January!

tamilyn said...

Well, you know my predicament with cut out cookies :*)

They are so pretty, I'm envious of your talent.

Unknown said...

Wow! These are absolutely beautiful!

Donna-FFW said...

They look phenomenal Monica, absolutely lovely. Your talent never ceases to amaze me.

Janet said...

Your cookies look beautiful here on your blog, Monica and I'm Very happy to say that I've had the extreme pleasure of tasting them - they truly are as yummy as they look!

Thanks for letting me be your cookie-swap buddy this Christmas!

I'm baking cookies this week - As soon as I saw the snow globe cookies featured on Martha's show the week before Christmas I knew I had to try to make them! Wish me luck!

Diana's Cocina said...

WOW, these cookies look awesome! Love your blog!!!!

Trish said...

my jaw is hanging down to my knees and I am not even going to try to tell you my rather basic cookies I made...wowsa you are one talented lady!

mbc said...

Oh, these are beautiful, too pretty to eat!!

Foodiewife said...

Waaaaaaaaaaaah! I never made a single Christmas cookie for us. Not one. I so wanted to learn how to make these. I guess it'll have to wait for Valentine's Day. Next year, Monica, would you kick my fanny in gear around early November to start making cookie dough. I was such a slug this year! As always, these are stunning and should be in a bakery showcase. I'd buy them all.

Katie said...

Your cookies are stunning. I love the detail on the baubals!

Marie Rayner said...

Your cookies look just wonderful. Well done!

♥peachkins♥ said...

These are super cute Christmas cookies!

Linda said...

Hi Monica! Your cookies are absolutely beautiful!! Pure perfection!! I am definitely going to attempt to make and ice some sugar cookies of my own. Thanks for sharing and creating such an inspiring blog.

Keeley said...

Now, when are you opening your bakery? :)

Misc Momma said...

I royally ;) screwed up this exact royal icing recipe. I don't know how I did it, but the frosting refused to harden. They remained sticky eternally. Guess it was the user and not the recipe... Yours are beautiful!

Winifred said...

Your cookies look fabulous!

My First Kitchen said...

Those are waaaay too cute. We didn't get a chance to make cookies this year since we had a new baby and everything, but I think we're going to make it a priority this weekend to make New Year cookies. They might still be snowmen and snowflakes, but who really cares, right? :) These are so cute, and I'm definitely going to get some ideas from your decorating prowess.

Hennifer said...

Wow! Those are beautiful!

My sister and I were having a conversation about sugar cookies over the holidays. I made no cookies this year.

Why are there so many variations to the sugar cookie? I wish I could put my finger on what makes a cookie perfect but instead I only know when a sugar cookie is bad.

Mara Campbell said...

Beautiful cookies!!! I just love those ornaments, they are beautiful!!

We made our staple sugar cookies this year, along with irish creme biscotti, brownie bites, peanut butter bars and chocolate caramel corn. And I still want to bake more!!

Roz | La Bella Vita Cucina said...

Hi Monica (again), I sent a previous comment but blogger shut down on me, so be prepared for a possible double comment! That's OK cuz you deserve it! I was saying that I fully expect you and your beautiful baking to grace the pages of a fine cooking magazine in the future! I wish you and your hubbie the most happies of new years in 2010. I'll try to post more but it seems that my teaching position demands more of my time as student enrollment increases. I hope that you understand and are willing to continue to read my posts whenever they appear. Love and hugs, Roz

Ingrid_3Bs said...

Monica I don't want a printable recipe just the cookies please! LOL! You did a wonderful job on the decorations. The snowflakes are my favorite. So, so pretty.

Heather S-G said...

They are all so perfect! Sheesh...I was supposed to make sugar cookies over break...kids go back Monday...still haven't made them. Bad mom. I still have the weekend.... :D

Zsofi Anna said...

These are absolutely gorgeous, Monica. The next time I make decorated cookies I am going to come here for inspiration. You're a star.

Kerstin said...

So pretty - I love the variety! Sugar cookies are my favorite :)

Unknown said...

Your cookies are beautiful! The recipe you used is also my favorite. I find it makes the sturdiest cookie for decorating purposes - probably because it has no baking powder.

Unknown said...

YOu are so good at baking! When are you opening a shop?? I love your snowflakes - so beautiful!!!
Happy New Year...may it hold wonderful things for you and Mr. H :)

Ingrid_3Bs said...

I guess it's the lemon extract you added that makes these a little extra special. I'll need to try your Aunt's recipe before I can give you my opinion on which recipe travels and tastes better. :)

Mermaid Sews said...

Glad you liked these recipes. Man your cookies are amazing, they are just gorgeous. You must have been super busy, looks like a lot of cookies.

AnickH said...

So I tried the cookie craft recipe not too long aso and my cookies came out looking amazingly perfect but then i couldnt help but still miss my usuall sugar cookie recipe which is exact same as your aunts recipe. (and i have proof of that from past blog posts of mine.) anyway, so i made my usuall sugar cookie recipe again, (the one like your aunts.) and they kind of poofed and didnt hold their shape so well (not like cookie crafts does) and thats when i realized that the cookie craft recipe really actually is a better recipe. its flawless, hold its shape perfecto. is more durable. and actually tastes really good... so i dunno i realized i had to accept that cookie craft was the best. (thats the case for me anyway, being that looks are equally important as taste)

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