It seems that almost every food blogger has made some version of cut-out sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. I decided it was time for me to tackle them. Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect time to experiment with easy shapes and pattern and I think they turned out pretty well for my first attempt! I still prefer other flavors over sugar cookie cut-outs, but I can’t deny it- these are much prettier than some of my other cookies!
The cookies are pretty simple and straightforward. It’s an easy-to-make dough followed by chilling, rolling and then cutting them out. The royal icing gets a bit trickier, but only the piping of the outline before “flooding” the cookie. After you have the outline, it’s really smooth sailing from there. For an excellent tutorial on royal icing check out Annies Eats. She even breaks down how to make the “hearts” in the icing. I was way too covered in icing to take pictures mid-process this time around!
Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
For the cookies:
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups flour
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until soft and creamy. Slowly add powdered sugar and beat until well combined. Add in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour and continue to mix until smooth. Chill dough until firm, at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Roll out dough on a well floured surface until it is 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies with floured cookie cutters and carefully transfer them to the prepared cookie sheets. Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes. Cookies should NOT brown. Let cool completely before frosting.
For the icing:
2 Tbs meringue powder (found at any craft/baking store)
4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbs water
Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, beat frosting on low until matte and smooth, about 7-8 minutes.
Remove icing and divide into separate, covered container. The number of containers will be based on how many colors you are using. I used two containers, one for pink and one for red. Keep the icing covered at all times when you are not working with it, as it dries out quickly.
Starting with the pink container, dilute frosting with water so it is a pipeable consistency, but be careful and only add a tiny bit of water at a time because it dilutes rather easily. Add coloring when the icing is at the right consistency for piping and place it in a piping bag fit with a small, round tip. I used a #3 tip for piping these cookies. Pipe thin, smooth outlines on each of the cookie and set aside.
Once all of the outlines are piped, add the pink frosting back to the pink container and dilute it to a “flooding” consistency. Annie describes this in her tutorial, but I would say just make it thin enough that it is easy enough to spread within your outline. Cover pink frosting and move over to the reserved red container. Dilute the frosting to a similar floodable consistency to the pink and add coloring. Carefully transfer the red coloring to a squeeze bottle with a lid. Now you’re ready to make hearts on your cookies! Working with one cookie at a time, (and remembering to constantly cover the icing when you’re not working with it) flood the cookie with the pink icing. Take your squeeze bottle and make a small dotted border in the pink frosting. Next, drag a toothpick from one dot to another making “hearts” in the icing. Simple as that! Again, if you need pictures of this technique, please see Annie’s Eats. Repeat steps with each cookie and let them harden overnight before placing them in an airtight container.
Recipes from Annies Eats