Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Sugar Cookies

Handcrafted with love!
Aren't these Christmas cookies so beautiful? And they are sooo easy to make too! :)

Have been really busy this week (and we are only at the start) shopping for Christmas. Also, a friend from out of town will be visiting me this week so gotta prep some stuff too. I don't know about you, but November seemed to have whizzed past me in a blur. How did time pass so fast? But I love it! All these is keeping my adrenaline pumping...

So yes, as I was saying, what is Christmas without some sugar cookies! I'm not sure if you noticed, but the edges of my cookie hearts are not slick. Why is that so? Because I didn't use a cookie cutter. I couldn't find a heart-shape cookie cutter (strangely, the stores I went to had stars, christmas trees, aeroplanes, but I think they ran out of hearts!) so I decided to just cut them by hand. I guess I can now say these cookies were "handcrafted" hoho. And like thumbprints, you won't be able to find the exact same heart on my cookie tray because I didn't use a stencil. So yes, they are absolutely unique! ;P

So let's get on with talking about how to make these cookies! First, use your favorite sugar recipe. I used the recipe from my friend Sheralyn (the same one who passed me the delicious bread ring recipe) and they worked superbly. I added nutmeg for mine, and I LOVE how it gives the cookies the extra kick and flavor, making it all spiced, sweet and salty at once. Below is the recipe, and thereafter I'll elaborate on how to decorate it using royal icing.

So good, you can even eat them on their own!
Christmas Sugar Cookies

240g unsalted butter, softened
200g sugar or brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
330g of flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg (optional)

Mix and sift the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg into a large bowl.

In a separate large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together.

Mix the egg and vanilla into the butter and sugar mixture. You will get quite a wet mixture but it is ok. Add in the sifted flour.

Knead gently and chill the dough for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. You may chill it up to a day.

Preheat your oven to 350F.

Gently roll out the dough about 1/4-inch thick and cut them into your desired shapes.

Line your baking tray with wax paper. Place your cut cookies on them. Chill them in the refrigerator again for about 10 to 15 minutes. This will help to harden the dough and allow it to hold its shape better during the baking process.

Bake your cookies for about 10 minutes, or until the edges are brown. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Royal Icing 1 (for piping the outline of the cookie)

1 large egg white
1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
220g of powdered/icing sugar, sifted.

Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until combined. Slowly whisk 1/2 a cup of sugar into the mixture. Do this with the rest of the sugar until you have a thick mixture - you can't have a runny consistency, but it shouldn't be so thick that you can't pipe it properly. If the icing gets too runny, you can add more sugar. If it is too thick, just add a bit of water.

If you don't own a piping bag, no worries, simply put them into a ziplock bag (or other bags that can give you a nice pointed edge) and snip the tip off. Be very careful, snip the hole as small as you can and adjust from there.

Royal Icing 2 (for flooding - which means to fill out the whole cookie)

2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice
330g of powdered/icing sugar, sifted.

Follow the same steps as the above. To add color to your icing, just add your favorite food coloring.

Important note: Royal icing dries out very quickly, so always cover your bowl of icing with a cling film when not in use. Also, place the tip of your piping bag on a piece of moist tissue while interchanging colors/bags to prevent crusting.

Make sure your cookies are completely cooled.

Using royal icing 1, pipe a border around your cookie. This is to help contain the icing later which will be much more runny in consistency. Without this step, your icing might run messily over the edges.

Wait for the icing to completely cool. This may take around half an hour. Always have a cookie that you can test with. If that test cookie dries, you know the rest are probably dried. And you can practice your designs on that test cookie first before attempting on your real cookies!In fact, I usually have at least two test cookies cos i tend to chomp on the first one while decorating hurhur.

Then, use a teaspoon to and start flooding your cookie. Try not to over flood it, just have enough icing to coat the surface. A super thick flooding may run over the border resulting in a horrible mess.

Then, while your icing is still wet (you cannot manipulate the design on dried out icing), dot it with another color. I place my red icing in a piping bag and piped the dots!

After that, use a toothpick and gently run it through the circles.

And there you'll have it, beautifully swirled hearts on a cookie.

When you are done, place the cookie on a flat surface. Make sure it is not tilted, because the wet icing will make its way out of your cookie before you know it! The icing will take several hours to dry (sometimes overnight) so check your test cookie before packing them up! :)

Happy holidays everyone! :)
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  1. Pretty designs! You should try getting a medium consistency to the icing (use that consistency for both outline and filling) and then filling it in with a piping bag when the outline is still moist. That way it doesn't leave that outer line. That's a trick I learnt while I was experimenting with my cookies. So, the last few cookies had seamless icing on them :)

  2. This is ridiculously cute! My valentines day project for next year, thank you!