This post is also available in: French
Christmas Cookies. Love those words. Decorating cookies reminds me of the past Christmases I spent with my Aunt Beatrix which is for all of us « The Christmas Queen ».
She bakes amazing cakes, cookies and does such amazing Christmas ornaments and crafts . She used to craft us amazing advent calendars when we were younger and of course there was always « the cookie decorating time ». I loved it. I’m still in love with decorated cookies , you can see such amazing ones on the web .
So I decided to bake my first royal icing decorated cookies this year. You have to start somewhere. I hope I will get better and better at these. I also crafted my first advent crown. Hope that my aunt is proud of me ! In France we say that you have to make a wish each time you try something new. So many wishes for me lately !
I tried several recipes for those first cookies : gingerbread, sugar and chocolate. I think I’ll try many other recipes in the future but those ones are really delicious ! For the royal icing I tried the one you can find on Sweetopia’s because I wanted to try out the meringue powder I just bought, but you can use the traditional egg white recipe.
I think I’ll try several recipes as well to see what works best for me. ( I did half a batch of the meringue powder one) and it was really enough for a first try.
I found plenty of great videos and articles on University of Cookie, The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle and Sweetopia’s websites. I also bought an amazing book named « Cookie Craft ». I highly recommend it.
Gingerbread Cookies: ( Source: Adapted from Glorious Treats, I did half a batch)
– 400 g / 14 oz /3 cups all-purpose flour
– 1/2 Tbs baking powder
– 1 tsp ground ginger
– 2 tsp ground cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp ground cloves
– 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
– 113g / 4oz / 1/2 cup butter
– 60g / 2oz / 1/4 cup honey
– 60g/ 2 oz / 1/4 cup dark molasses
– 100g/ 3.5 oz / 1/2 cup brown sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– In a large bowl, gently stir together flour, baking powder, and all spices. Set aside.
– In the bowl of your electric mixer (or other large bowl), beat butter until smooth. Add brown sugar, molasses, eggs and vanilla.
– Gradually stir in the dry ingredients until they are fully incorporated.
– Divide the dough into 3 pieces, and flatten into rounded disk (about 1 1/2 inches thick). Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
– When dough has chilled, preheat oven to 350*F. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to desired thickness (1/4- 1/2 inch thick). Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Place cookies at least 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat type liner. If the dough is too sticky or soft to work with, put it in the refrigerator or freezer for a few minutes to firm up.
– Bake for 9-12 minutes (depending on the size of cookies). Cool slightly on cookie sheet, then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.
– Frost with royal icing, if desired.
Basic Sugar cookie Recipe: (Source: Daring Bakers based on Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking ) Makes Approximately 36x 10cm / 4″ Cookies
– 200g / 7oz / ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
– 400g / 14oz / 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
– 200g / 7oz / 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
– 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
– 5ml / 1 tsp Vanilla Extract / Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
– Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming creamy in texture. Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread duringbaking, losing their shape.
– Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms. Tip: I don’t have a stand mixer so I find it easier to switch to dough hooks at this stage to avoid flour flying everywhere.
– Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
– Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
– Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins. Tip: Recipes commonly just wrap the whole ball of dough in clingwrap and then refrigerate it for an hour or overnight, but by rolling the dough between parchment, this shortens the chilling time and then it’s also been rolled out while still soft making it easier and quicker.
– Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
– Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
– Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour. Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
– Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
– Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
– Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies. Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done. Tip: Rotate baking sheets half way through baking if your oven bakes unevenly.
– Leave to cool on cooling racks.
– Once completely cooled, decorate as desired. Tip: If wrapped in tinfoil/cling wrap or kept in airtight containers in a cool place, un-decorated cookies can last up to a month.
Nb: I did proceed the same that for the gingerbread cookies. I Divided the dough into 3 pieces, and flatten into rounded disk (about 1 1/2 inches thick), wrapped them in plastic wrap and refrigerated. I colored 2 of them with green and red. I used gel food colorings. I think you could use liquid food colorings. The color might be less vibrant though.
Rolled chocolate cookies (Source: “Cookie Craft” by Valerie Peterson & Janice Fryer ) Makes: About 30 2 1/2-inch cookies
– 325g / 11.4 oz / 2 1/2 cups flour
– 60g / 2oz / 1/2 cup cocoa power, either alkalized (Dutch-process) or natural (non-alkalized)
– 1 tsp instant espresso power, optional but recommended
– 1/2 tsp salt
– 226g / 8 oz / 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
– 100g / 1 cup sugar
– 1 large egg
– 1 tsp vanilla
– Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder and salt in a medium bowl; set aside.
– Cream together the butter and sugar in an electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy. (If your mixer has multiple attachments, use the paddle.) Add the egg and vanilla; mix until well blended
– With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until the two are thoroughly blended. Turn out the dough onto the work surface; divide it into two or three equal portions. Form each one into a rough disk.
– Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll out the dough and cut your cookie shapes; place on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Bake on the middle rack until the cookies start to turn a deeper brown around the edges, 12-16 minutes.
– Cool the cookies completely on a rack before icing or decorating.
Royal Icing (Meringue Powder) (Source : Antonia74′s (from cakecentral.com) , Sweetopia)
– 90g / 6 oz / 3/4 cup of warm water
– 25g / 1 oz / 2 1/2 Tablespoons Meringue powder
– 1 tsp cream of tartar
– 500g / 17.6 oz / 4 cups powdered icing sugar
– 1 tsp vanilla extract ( or any flavourings you like )
– In mixer bowl, pour in the warm water and the meringue powder. Mix it with a whisk by hand until it is frothy and thickened…about 30 seconds.
– Add the cream of tartar and mix for 30 seconds more.
– Pour in all the icing sugar at once and place the bowl on the mixer.
– Using the paddle attachment on the LOWEST speed, mix slowly for a full 10 minutes. Icing will get thick and creamy.
– Cover the bowl with a dampened tea-towel to prevent crusting and drying.
– Tint with food colourings or thin the icing with small amounts of warm water to reach the desired consistency.
Royal Icing (Egg Whites) : (Source: Daring Bakers based on Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking )
– 315g – 375g / 11oz – 13oz / 2 1/2 – 3 cups Icing Sugar, unsifted
– 2 Large Egg Whites
– 10ml / 2 tsp Lemon Juice
– 5ml / 1 tsp Almond Extract, or other flavourings of your choice.
– Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined. Tip: It’s important that the bowls/spoons/spatulas and beaters you use are thoroughly cleaned and grease free.
– Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites. Tip: I’ve listed 2 amounts of icing sugar, the lesser amount is good for a flooding consistency, and the larger amount is for outlining, but you can add even more for a much thicker consistency good for writing. If you add too much icing sugar or would like to make a thinner consistency, add very small amounts of water, a few drops at a time, until you reach the consistency you need.
– Beat on low until combined and smooth.
– Use immediately or keep in an airtight container. Tip: Royal Icing starts to harden as soon as it’s in contact with air so make sure to cover containers with plastic wrap while not in use.
Bon Appétit !