i decided on some fairly labor-intensive treats for christmas this year. first, i made pfeffernusse in early december – they take a few weeks to soften. buckeyes have become a tradition every year – i started making them when we lived in ohio and at this point, they’re basically a condition of my participation in the fella’s family’s christmas celebrations. the first question his sister asked when we walked in the door was whether i brought them again!
i decided to round things out with sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. i’ve made sugar cookies before but never with royal icing – and things went surprisingly well for my first attempt! i used martha stewart’s recipes for both the cookies and the icing. i did my homework and read a lot of advice and tips on working with royal icing, and am very satisfied with the results. i had to make do without any cookie decorating tips or icing color, so the decorations are pretty simple and colors are a little washed out, but still – not too shabby for my first attempt!
this is an excellent sugar cookie recipe. however, i needed to bake mine a couple minutes longer than the recipe. i have an oven thermometer and it was 350 on the dot, but these took 13-14 minutes for me. as you can see in the photos, they didn’t brown at all.
here are some tips i’d offer on working with sugar cookie dough and royal icing:
- the special food coloring for icing really is necessary. it just wasn’t possible to get the colors right with food coloring, and that little bit of liquid really does affect the consistency. i planned for it by starting it out a little thick.
- at least two batches of icing are necessary – one a little thicker for making the outline, and thinner stuff for filling in.
- chilled dough, a well-floured surface and well-floured rolling pin are the secret to clean edges and easy-to-transfer sugar cookies.
- use cool pans – even a little bit of heat will affect how the cookies bake.
- let the cookies cool for a couple minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack – i did a few too soon and they bent and cracked.