This December is the most festive I have felt since I was a kid. All of this sugar and spice is really helping to bring out that extra bit of holiday magic!
Continuing with my Christmas Baking Challenge, I spent all of today in my little kitchen baking the ultimate Christmas cookie – the sugar cookie! Although cookie decorating seems so intimidating when you stare at all of the beautiful cookie art on Pinterest, I promise it’s so easy to create your own decorated sugar cookies! Here’s my favourite sugar cookie and royal icing recipe.
What You Need
1 cup sugar
1 3/4 sticks (200 grams) of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
pinch of salt
6 egg whites
4 cups (1 pound) icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
food colouring (I use gel based)
yields 24 cookies using a large cookie cutter / 48 cookies using a small cookie cutter
Cream the sugar and butter together until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla until combined.
Add in the flour and salt until fully incorporated, and the cookie dough will come together in a big dough ball.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and flatten into your hands into a flat disk. Wrap it up in plastic wrap and put in fridge for 20 minutes (this makes it much easier to work with).
Preheat oven to 350°F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Roll out your dough on a floured surface. Using a floured cookie cutter, cut out your shapes (1/4 inch thick) and carefully transfer them to the baking sheet.
Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown and then let them completely cool.
To make the icing, add in the icing sugar, and then add in the egg whites and lemon juice and then blend with a hand or stand mixer on high until light and fluffy (5-10 minutes). Cover with a wet cloth or in an air tight container until ready to use (or it will harden!)
When ready to decorate, separate your icing into separate bowls and colour as appropriate for your design.
You will need to further separate some of your coloured icing to do the flooding – that is the thinner icing used to fill in the areas! To do this just add a teaspoon of water at a time into the mixture.
Put your thicker icing into piping bags and your thinner icing into squeeze bottles and go forth to decorate!
With a thin piping tip, pipe your outlines using the thicker icing.
Then with the squeeze bottle, pipe the thinner flood icing. Use a flat knife or toothpick to smooth it out up to those thick icing borders that you made. Add on any sprinkles or decorations at this point.
Let the icing completely dry (may take a few hours). Then you can add your final top piping if your design calls for it! If you add royal icing on top of royal icing it will spread slightly.
Just be aware that cookie decorating is labour intensive! From the start with baking the cookies, to the final detail of the cookies it took me OVER eight hours of baking (not counting the cleaning)! So if you’re a beginner like me, this is definitely not a quick evening project! But every single minute was enjoyable.
I’m so full of sugar now that I’m definitely going to dream of sugarplums dancing!!
Let’s grab our passports today and see how the holiday’s are celebrated around the world! I opted to stop over quickly in Germany where my family is from for this around the world bake. Germany is well known for it’s holiday traditions: Christmas Market, Advent Calendars, and of course the FOOD!
One of my favourite Christmas memories is sneaking my Oma’s Spritzgebäck (which translates squirt cookie as they come out of a cookie press, or spritz because you know spritz!) from the table before dinner. Spritzgebäck is a very traditional German fluffy butter cookie which looks oh so fancy so I had to try my hand at it.
I found this recipe from Dinner at the Zoo. The recipe is very simple: only butter, flour, sugar, salt, vanilla, and an egg. You then take the mixture and put it in a cookie press, and squirt each one out onto a cookie sheet and bake. The recipe is for chocolate spritzes, but I ended up doing half in chocolate, and half without.
Unfortunately my cookie press (a 60+ year old thing that my Oma passed on to me in which you actually have to crank the press like a stuck jar of pickles to get the cookies to come out) wasn’t really a fan of this recipe. The dough tastes absolutely amazing, but might be too dry for this particular press (or maybe I need to work on my arm muscles!) So instead I opted to roll out the cookies and do cut outs – which worked spectacularly!
I then dipped half of each cookie in melted dark chocolate (the half dip is a very German thing) and added sprinkles – and wunderbar!
Christmas Treats Elsewhere!
I absolutely love seeing how people elsewhere celebrate! Here’s some of the goodies that come from around the world that I would love to try:
Don’t you look cute and festive today! 🙂 For No Bake day of the 25 Days of Christmas Baking Challenge, I’m getting all buttered up. Peanut buttered up that is!
My family lives and breathes peanut butter. We add it to absolutely everything and can clear a shelf of Reese’s Cups in a jiff. So when I found these Christmas No Bake Peanut Butter Balls from Emily Enchanted I knew I was dipping in right away.
These little balls are sticky, but super quick to make (I was able to squeeze them in before I left for work!) and the combination of chocolate and peanut butter will have the biggest Grinches at the party melt.
A little late getting this post up, but I was up into the wee hours of the night whipping up dozens and dozens of little treatsies yesterday and decided I should try and be a bit awake at work today! Day 2 of 25 Days of Christmas Baking was Shortbread! These buttery bites are a Christmas requirement for many.
I was flip-flopping all day long with what recipe I want to do, so the only answer in the end was… BOTH!
Shortbread Cut Out Cookies
First up was this recipe for Easy Christmas Shortbread Cookies from The Café Sucre Farine. They’re both butterylicious and beautiful, and can confirm that they ARE as easy as it says on the tin!
The recipe gives some decorating tips and calls for a peppermint glaze and buttercream piping. I opted for some lemon glaze and sprinkles instead and think they look pretty cute!
I also made Mini Chip Butter Crisps, which have been a family favourite since I was very young. I think the recipe came on the back of carton of butter way back in the day. This one is a whipped shortbread cookie, which is literally the same ingredients as your typical shortbread cookie but just beating the dough for longer which adds extra air to the mixture.
I get a couple people asking for this recipe each time (which is apparently way too much because my recipe is coated in buttery fingerprints).
What You Need
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups butter or margarine
1 cup icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips
Cream the butter/margarine with a mixer. Beat in the icing sugar and vanilla.
Add in the flour and salt mixture one part at a time and blend until nice and smooth
With a wooden spoon, mix in the chocolate chips
Form the dough into 1 inch balls by hand and place onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Press dough balls down with the bottom of a glass dipped in flour and top with some sprinkles.
Bake at 325 degrees F for 10 minutes and enjoy! These cookies freeze VERY well (and actually taste even better frozen!)