Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sugar Cookies

I've always envisioned baking sugar cookies with my daughter around the Holidays, where I would let her cut out the shapes and decorate with the frosting and sprinkles. I thought baking sugar cookies would be an easy thing to do. But when I look up the recipes, they just seem so complicated. Where the most complicated thing was the the frosting....royal icing. Where in the world can I find meringue powder? I've looked at the craft store where I buy a lot of my baking needs, but no such luck. Another problem I have is the counter space to roll out the dough. I have the old-school tiled counter top. Not ideal if you want to roll out dough of any kind. So the closest I got to sugar cookies was when I made these Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies, where I didn't really have to roll out the dough. But they still weren't the shaped cookies that I've always wanted to make with my daughter.

This week was her last week at school before her Holiday break and I decided to have her give out cookies to the kids on her last day. So she and I made Chocolate Chip Cookies and I decided to tackle the task of making Sugar cookies using this recipe from Annie's Eats. Making the cookies was really easy and the ingredients were straightforward. I decided to use our dining table to roll out the dough and have my daughter cut out the shapes, which she enjoyed doing.

To tackle the meringue powder issue, I decided to search online to see if there are any substitutes for meringue powder. Sure enough, I found this substitute, using egg whites. Its an extra step, but it definitely works if you can't find meringue powder like me. Its definitely worth the extra step to see my daughter having a good time frosting and decorating these yummy cookies.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted

1) Using an electric stand mixer, cream butter over low-medium speed. Slowly add confectioner's sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla extract, salt and flour. Continue beating until well incorporated. Form dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill dough until firm.

2) Preheat oven to 375 deg F. Grease 2-3 cookie sheets.

3) Roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness on a well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters and place on prepared cookie sheets. Bake for 8-10 minutes, but do not let the cookies brown. Cool completely before frosting and decorating.

Royal Icing
2 egg whites
2 Tbsp. water
1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
4 Tbsp. sugar

4 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted
5 Tbsp. water
food coloring

1) In a bowl of a double boiler, whisk together egg whites, 2 tablespoons of water, cream of tartar, and sugar. Place bowl over boiling water stir frequently with a rubber spatula. Cook mixture until temperature from a candy thermometer reads over 160 deg F. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

2) Using an electric stand mixer with a paddle attachment, combine egg mixture with confectioner's sugar on low speed for 7-10 minutes, until icing has a matte appearance. Remove bowl from the mixer and add water, 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.

3) Place icing in separate bowls per food coloring. Frost cooled cookies and immediately decorate (with sprinkles). Allow frosting to set before serving.

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