Fun fact: Sugar cookies are my ABSOLUTE favorite thing to make!
Second fun fact: Anything pink or heart shaped is my second favorite thing to make.
So you can only guess what that means? Lots and lots and lots of photos came out of this shoot because, well, who doesn’t love pretty pink heart cookie photos?
Now if you know me personally or if you’ve basically ever read any my blog posts or follow me on instagram you would know that I don’t go a single day without chocolate.
You know what they say, it’s good for the heart and I’m all about anything healthy;)
But really, chocolate is my life! Give me a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie out of the oven and you’re officially my new best friend. Bonus points if it’s got walnuts or pecans in it.
So when it comes to sugar cookies, I usually turn my head at the thought of eating one. Why waste the calories on eating cardboard? I’m harsh with my sweets, I know.
But these sugar cookies are not your average flavorless sugar cookie that come out looking like a deflated cut out of whatever shape you were hoping to achieve.
However these sugar cookies are my only exception and for good reason. I mean look at those perfectly shaped cut outs.
They’re just asking to be coated in the best royal icing ever!
Third fun fact: (don’t worry this is my last fun fact) I used to make sugar cookies in college for every occasion. Super bowl – made foot ball jerseys (no idea what teams were playing but Steve would tell me the colors so I could make the cookies;)), 21st birthday – made everyone a martini shaped sugar cookie as party favors, Steve’s away hockey trips – made jersey and hockey stick cookies, Steve’s 21s birthday – made beer mug cookies, etc. Sugar cookies were my JAM and are my favorite way to make a themed dessert!
Side note: after typing that all out and thinking about how late I stayed up to do a simple icing on heart shaped cookies for this shoot, makes me miss college and all the free time I had. Come back three 1 hour classes a day lifestyle. I miss you and all my time I had to bake cookies and go to the gym to work off all the cookies I was eating. <-true story
So after years of trial and error and multiple rounds of taste testing, I’m sharing the only sugar cookie and royal icing recipe you will ever need again in your life.
I found this sugar cookie recipe on Martha Stewart.com back when I was 18 and have never used a different one since. I even have people call me from college still asking for me to send it to them (it’s that EPIC)!
And when it comes to icing, I have been around the block, down the alley, through the tunnel and back with trial and error. Some tasted gross, some didn’t set right, some were too soupy, I’ve seen it all until I discovered this recipe by The Decorated Cookie.
But before I get to the good stuff, I have to give you a few tips to making the best sugar cookies of all time. Each oven and taste tester is different but after making this recipe, oh just a few hundred times or so, I’ve gathered some good tips to share.
How to Achieve the Perfect Sugar Cookie
1. MUST CHILL DOUGH OVERNIGHT! This is a must do to get those perfectly cut out shapes and when not using dough (in between baking), put in freezer to refirm up before rolling out again.
2. No substitutions on the meringue powder for the icing. It’s a must to get that perfectly soft but hardened icing with good flavor.
3. Over flour your working surface and the dough before rolling. There is nothing worse than rolling out your dough then going to lift the shape and finding it to be stuck to your surface creating a dis-formed shape. I heavily flour my surface and both sides of the dough disk before rolling.
4. Be careful not to over bake cookies. Sugar cookies are the trickiest cookie to tell when done. Flour browns easily in the oven so sometime they look more cooked then they are but you always want to pull them out when almost done and then allow to finish cooking on the pan to prevent a crunchy cookie. I do exactly 10 mins for middle sized cookie shapes and then typically 7 for smaller and 12-14 for bigger.
5. Go the extra mile and make piping and flooding icing. I know it’s more dishes and more work but it makes such a difference when decorating the cookies by giving it that pretty clean edge of icing that is perfectly flooded in with more delish icing.
Ok, enough with the chit chat. Let’s bake some cookies!
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons brandy, or milk
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; mix until light and fluffy. With mixer running, add egg, brandy, and vanilla; mix until well combined. With the mixer on low, slowly add reserved flour mixture. Mix until just combined.
- Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (I highly recommend chilling over night to get those perfect cut out shapes)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
- I usually double this recipe to give myself plenty of extra dough to work with and so I use up all the icing. I also use almond milk in place of the brandy. The yield depends on the cookie cutter size, 24 would be smaller cutters.
- 4 tbsp meringue powder (available at Michaels or most craft stores)
- 1/2 cup water
- 7-8 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tbsp Crisco
- 2 tbsp corn syrup (light or dark, just note dark will add a caramel color to your white frosting)
- In a standing mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the meringue powder and water on high speed for several minutes, until it’s fluffy and peaks form.
- Add vanilla, crisco and corn syrup and whisk until combined.
- Gradually add confectioner's sugar (1 cup at a time) until desired consistency.
- Store at room temperature in a sealed container for up to a month.
- I typically use 7 cups of confectioner sugar and then divide my icing into two bowls. One for piping the outline and one for flooding. For the piping bowl, I add 1/2 cup more sugar and for the flooding I add 1 tsp at a time water to thin the icing.
What’s your favorite type of cookie? Do you like sugar cookies with icing or rolled in sugar? Any recipe you swear by?