Of the countless lessons my grandfather taught me, one of my favorites is to enjoy the sweet things in life. My grandfather taught me to bake – he showed me that adding a splash of vinegar to pie crust makes it extra flaky. I remember juicing limes in his kitchen for his famous key lime pie, and he always let me have a try spraying the whipped cream on our strawberry shortcakes. With his passing this weekend, I was inspired to brighten up these sad times exactly the way he would have wanted – with sweets.
Today, I’m bringing you a classic sugar cookie recipe that can be used for anything – just cut the dough out into the shape you want, and make them festive. I wanted to spread some love today, so I made some hearts and some afternoon tea squares.
This is a perfect recipe for right now, as we near Valentine’s Day. These cookies keep very well, so wrap some up and send them to your loved ones, near and far.
I don’t frequently work with royal icing, but it’s always fun when I do. For this recipe I used two variations of the same recipe – one thicker icing for outlining the cookies and a thinner, runnier icing for pouring and filling the insides.
My favorite part about these cookies was decorating them. Use your imagination! I grabbed everything from my sprinkle and garnish cabinet and went to work. I sprinkled some rock candy on the red cookies, giving them a bit of extra diamond gleam, used some star sprinkles, and tapped some gold luster dust on the tops to make them all glimmer.
This recipe is dedicated to my Pop Pop, as is this recipe and this one… all favorites he inspired. I am infinitely lucky to have grown up with such a loving, supportive, knowledgable, and overall incredible grandfather. He was and is such a gift to my family. Pop Pop, I love you so much. Here’s to you.
Classic Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing
Inspired by Hot Beauty Health
Prep time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 10 large cookies
For the cookies
- 1 1/8 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 1/2 egg (whip one up and use half of it)
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
For the icing
- 1 1/2 tablespoons powdered egg whites (or meringue powder)
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons warm water
- 1/2 tablespoon water
- Desired food color
- Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugar until light in color for approximately 3 minutes.
- Add in the egg and vanilla on medium speed until incorporated.
- Gradually add in the dry ingredients on low speed and mix for about two minutes, or until the dough consolidates, and there are no extra dry ingredients.
- Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 24 hours.
- After chilling, preheat your oven to 350*F, and roll your dough out to 1/4” thickness on a clean surface.
- Use your desired cookie cutters and cut out as many cookies as you can, re-rolling the dough when necessary.
- On a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat, transfer the cut-out cookies carefully and bake them for 10 minutes, or until golden-brown around the edges. Cool fully before frosting.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the egg whites, powdered sugar, and warm water on medium-low speed for 8 minutes, or until it loses its sheen and stiff peaks form.
- Scoop half of the icing into a separate bowl, and add the 1/2 tablespoon water by hand with a whisk, until no lumps remain.
- I used three piping bags for the three colors of piped icing I used – pink, white, and red. To color them, in a small bowl, I stirred in food coloring for each thicker icing, and then repeated the same steps with the runnier icing.
- To pipe, outline your cookie carefully with the thicker icing, then gently spoon and spread the thinner icing within the outline. Top with sprinkles or your favorite garnish, and let it set for approximately 20 minutes.