Let me start off this post by stating that I have really only ever used a piping bag maybe five times ever. But after seeing Annie's step-by-step royal icing tutorial, I felt up to the challenge. Her cookies are so pretty. She also has a sugar cookie that is well reviewed and very simple to put together. And I'm an all or nothing kinda girl (just ask my hubby), so I figured I'd follow her advice from start to finish.
As she promised, the cookie dough was super easy to work with, and the cookies held their shape beautifully, even with all the butter in the dough.
I'm a big believer in Silpat baking mats. They are awesome for making cookies and dealing with anything that is traditionally super sticky. The cookies literally just slide right off.
After making three trays of cutouts, I had just a tiny scrap of dough left. In the past when making sugar cookies, the dough is usually too stiff from being floured or just not workable after being rolled out so many times, but not this dough.
After cooling the cookies completely, I made the royal icing. (Recipe below)
A quick outline of a very stiff royal icing helps the "flooding" process later. Here's where Annie's step-by-step royal icing guide really came in handy.
Once the piped outline had dried, you can begin flooding. I followed Annie's advice and used two Wilton's plastic bottles to squeeze the icing onto the cookie, then spread the icing with toothpicks.
By flooding only specific sections at a time, I was able to decorate with the different colors of sanding sugar.
I also saved my original piping bags, so I added a little extra decoration to the top of the cookies after the flooded icing had dried.
My sister remembered that I had these cute little ball decorations which make lovely edible ornaments.
Are they perfect? No. But I am so happy with how they turned out! Especially with my limited piping experience. And can I tell you, they taste delish. Even if you're not into trying royal icing, definitely give these sugar cookies a try. Now I need to get them out of my house so I don't keep "trying" them.
Ella’s White Sugar Cookies
Yields: ~40 cookiesIngredients:
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
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.
Source: Annie's Eats
*For Annie's how-to with Royal Icing, click here.*
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water
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.
Source: Annie's Eats