This Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Mandy from What The Fruitcake?! Mandy challenged us to make decorated sugar cookies. This was an interesting challenge for me because I had never made decorated sugar cookies.
Well, the challenge was to use a theme of September, whatever that meant to you. Not really having anything to associate with September, I didn’t know what theme to embrace. Right now I miss my miniature Schnauzer, named Gretchen, a ton. Gretchen is the most adorable ball of black and silver fur. She is a little fat and almost looks like a miniature lamb. I could not bring her with me to DC, so she is happily living with (and being pampered by) my grandparents. So I decided to bake cookies in the shape of Schnauzers in her honor.
I always assumed that sugar cookies decorated with royal icing would not taste great, but these are pretty yummy. They are crispy and the royal icing tasted great with the addition of lemon juice and almond extract. The challenge actually was easier than I expected it to be. The recipe used for the cookies does not use baking powder or baking soda which means that the cookies do not expand in the oven and they keep the exact shape from the cutter you use. For decorating, I used disposable pastry bags without decorating tips. Because of this, it was difficult to control the amount of royal icing that went on the cookies, and lines and dots were not very neat and precise. However, I was still able to achieve the marbling effect that I was going for. Next time I will use piping tips because I think that will help in controlling the amount of icing that goes on the cookies.
Basic Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Peggy Porschen
Makes about 25 cookies (4 inch cookies)
½ cup + 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups + 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup superfine sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Lemon zest from 1 lemon
1. Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Beat the mixture is creamy in texture. Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during baking, losing their shape.
2. Beat in the egg and lemon zest until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
4. Knead into a ball and divide into 2 pieces.
5. Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
6. Once chilled, peel off the top parchment paper. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
7. Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30 minutes. Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
8. Preheat oven to 350°F.
9. Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies. Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done. Cool cookies on cooling racks. Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
2½ cups confectioner’s sugar, unsifted
2 Large Egg Whites
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
Gel food coloring for the icing
1. Whisk egg whites with lemon juice until combined.
2. Sift the icing sugar to remove lumps and add it to the egg whites. Add in almond extract. Whisk until combined and smooth.
3. Use immediately or keep in an airtight container. 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.
4. Divide the icing into bowls and using a toothpick mix in a little bit of gel food coloring until you achieve your desired shade.
5. Transfer icing to piping bags and secure the top ends with rubber bands.
To marble the icing, check out the tutorial at Sweetopia.