Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Cookies with Royal Icing

Yesterday was a day full of baking here at our house....Is there anything better than baking and Christmas music? Because I honestly can't think of anything more relaxing....

I decided to make, cut out and bake the cookies during the day so that when Rob and Emily came home we could have a decorating party without worrying about all the pesky baking.......

Big Blue was excited to make her Christmas time debut......

I mixed up the ingredients into a delicious sugar cookie dough....

Rolled it out..

and cut it into cute Christmas shapes.
This year's choice was a Christmas tree, a candy cane, a snowman and a star...

Baked them and listened to some of the most random Christmas music that I've ever heard.... seriously I'm pretty sure everyone and their mom has a Christmas album these days...

  baked them in the oven and let them cool.....

 Then wrapped them up, put on a Hallmark Christmas movie and waited until it was time to decorate!

After dinner we unpacked the cookies, whipped up the icing and got to decorating....
The (very short) story of this icing is basically as follows:
Pipe icing around the edges.....

 water down the icing to be more liquidy and "flood" the cookies so they get that pretty smooth topping...

pipe on the decorations!! (the fun part!) 

 Look how pretty the turned out! We had fun trying to be creative with some of the cookies (some creative attempts turned out way cuter than others :) )

Sugar Cookie Recipe from Annie's Eats
Ella’s White Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 ½ c. sifted flour
Directions:Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. Yields ~40 cookies (depends on the size of your cookie cutters- I doubled the batch)

Royal Icing Recipe also from Annie's Eats
Royal Icing
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water
Directions: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 contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.  This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating.  Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated.  Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping.  (Remember, if you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick.  Add a little more liquid and try again.)  Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie.  Let stand so the icing will set.  Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container.  Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl.  If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again.  Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie.  If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along.  Allow to set.
Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired.  Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid.  Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.

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