December 21, 2011 by dairycarrie
When I asked Mare if she would be willing to guest post for the #NonDairyCarrie Project not only did she say yes but she ended up writing two posts for me. Last week Mare talked about Hungry Neighbors, this week she is sharing her recipe for amazing sugar cookies and the perfect frosting to decorate them with. I love trying out new recipes and I can’t wait to try these! And don’t think sugar cookies are just for Christmas! They can be for anytime of year, for any occasion!
It Takes a Village
Do you remember cut out sugar cookies from your childhood? I do. They were flat and frosted in a colored powdered sugar glaze. They were wonderful.
Once I was on my own, I got the recipe from my mom and made those very cookies. They weren’t the same. I blamed myself that I somehow messed up the recipe. Better luck next Christmas.
I tried again. Same result. And then I gave up. There were many more cookie recipes in my repertoire to make and eat. But the elusive sugar cookie remained a burr under my saddle.
After the kids were on the planet I wanted them to have great holiday memories and sugar cookies had to be a part of that. The hunt was on for the holy grail of sugar cookies. No recipe in any cookbook or online was safe.
Sugar cookies 23, Mare 0.
So there were a few more sugar cookie-less holidays. Until I tasted a cookie from one of the kids’ friend’s mom. It was the cookie I’d been looking for all this time. It was perfect. She was generous enough to share the recipe. It also had my favorite flavoring, almond extract. It’s a great cookie and you can mound it or roll it out for cut outs. Homerun.
Then there was the issue of frosting. Powdered sugar glaze is great but it wasn’t enough. Canned frosting is fun for the kids but the taste, well, enough said. We settled for fun for a couple more years until the day a tweeted a picture of some sugar cookies her young daughters decorated. They were beautiful!
An SOS was sent immediately. How did you do that? And a life preserver was shot back. Royal icing in squeeze bottles. What? Royal icing? Squeeze bottles? Sure, she said. I’ll send you the recipe.
Said recipe arrive mere seconds later and was very easy, but a little odd. Meringue powder? What in the heck is meringue powder? The recipe included instructions on where to get the secret ingredient and the squeeze bottles. Michael’s. I dug around for my 40% off coupon and went to Michael’s. Sure enough, that’s where my icing making supplies lived.
We’ve made this combo of sugar cookies for three years now. They are easy, fun and taste terrific. And here’s a picture of some of this year’s creations. But they truly took a village to create.
Now, if I could perfect the pfeffernüsse.
I’ve included the recipe to the sugar cookies and the royal icing. Go on, give them a try. Even the burnt ones taste great.
Ultimate Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 tsp salt
1 cup powdered sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
colored sugar sprinkles
Cream butter; add sugar gradually. Beat in egg and extracts. Blend in salt and flour. Chill. Roll 1/8 inch thick on floured surface; cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets (I use parchment paper); sprinkle with sugar. Decorate before baking or frost and decorate when cool. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes.
4 cups confectioner’s sugar – 1 lb
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder (Michael’s, Wal-Mart, or Target in the Wilton aisle)
12 tablespoons warm water (just shy of ¾ cup)
2 teaspoons vanilla, almond or lemon extract (pick one – your choice)
Beat on high 5 minutes with an electric stand mixer or 10 minutes with a hand mixer. If your mixer has multiple attachments use a paddle. When you have reached the desired consistency (you want it to be thin enough to come out of the bottle easy, but not so thin it just slides all over the place), it’s important that you immediately cover the mixture or store in airtight containers.
Use several small/medium sized containers with lids and then color them to desired colors. Icing should be loose enough to pour carefully into the squirt bottles without a funnel, but it can be messy if you’re not steady. You can add a bit more powdered sugar so it’s not too soupy or a little bit of water so it’s not too thick.
Thank you Mare for sharing! This is a fantastic recipe for family time and great memories. What are your favorite Christmas cookies? What are your favorite family cooking and baking traditions?