Sugar cookies are a holiday favorite. I make hundreds every year. Here are two cookie recipes, one Gluten Free, and several Icing types for you to enjoy. Personally, all my cookies turn out looking vaguely malevolent. This could be due to the fact that when making them for myself in bygone years, I almost exclusively used Halloween cookie cutters. Only these days, with the addition of children to my life, have I indulged in proper Christmas cutters for completely average holiday cookies (into which I intersperse monsters and the like, sometimes also crafting Santa into the fat, scarlet tyrant that he is.).
For the following two cookie dough recipes, assume that the tools needed are as follows:
- standing mixer (you may do this with you hands, but it can get messy. As always, make certain all your ingredients are mixed together thoroughly, during each stage)
- Plastic wrap
- Baking sheets
- Rolling pin
- Cookie cutters
(This recipe yields about 5 dozen cookies)
- 1 1/2 c butter
- 2 c sugar
- 4 eggs
- 5 c flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract (you can do all vanilla or flavored liqueur)
- Cream the butter and sugar. This works best if the butter is cut into chunks and allowed to soften to room temperature.
- Beat in the eggs and extracts.
- Mix the flour, salt, and baking powder together thoroughly in another bowl and then incorporate into the butter.
- Turn the dough out. Give it a few good kneads to bring it together. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour
- Preheat the oven to 400F
- Roll the dough out on a floured surface. I recommend keeping the dough about 1/4″ thick, but if you prefer a thicker or cheesier cookie, aim for 1/2″
- Cut into shapes and put on sheet
- Bake for 6-8 minutes
- Allow to cool completely before icing.
(This recipe can be doubled to make about 4 dozen)
- 1 c sugar
- ½ c butter (if you like a chewier cookie, add a bit more butter.)
- 1 large egg
- 1 Tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- ½ teaspoon xanthan gum (or, if you cannot use or stand gum, try the following: grind up about 2 Tbsp chia seeds, add 4 Tbsp boiling water and mix very quickly. Allow this to stand for about 5 minutes, and then add this mixture in place of the gum)
- 2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (I almost exclusively use King Arthur brand. You may also mix flours, as in part almond, part all purpose. However keep in mind that certain flours yield grainy textures or simply do not hold together.)
- Cream the butter and sugar
- Add the egg, milk, and extracts
- Add the gum or chia mixture
- Incorporate the flour, salt, powder
- Chill for at least an hour, but better of overnight
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Roll out and cut into shapes. Works best if one rolls it out on parchment, puts the cutters in place, peels off the excess and slides the parchment onto the baking sheet. As these can be a bit sticky.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or so, depending upon how crispy you want them
- Allow to cool before removing from the sheet.
- I find them easier to ice if I refrigerate them over night first
I have recently learned that humans feel quite strongly about how to ice cookies. Some even espouse hatred for anything but their chosen recipe. So I will give you a few classics from which to choose. You take your pick.
For all the following, please presume that the tools are as follows:
- Standing mixer (can be done with hand held, but you will need to frequently scrape the sides of the bowl) and the paddle attachment
- Several bowls for dividing frosting and coloring
- Silicone spatula for scraping
Excellent for icing cup cakes or cakes, butter cream has been a standard for years. It can be piped or spread, and it can achieve a hard crust if allowed to dry, though it is usually tacky.
- 1 c butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 8 c confectioners sugar
- 1/2 c heavy cream
- Food coloring
- Cream the butter in your mixer, and add the extracts, incorporating fully
- Add the sugar one cup at a time
- As you add sugar, the mixture will begins to turn crumbly, begin also slowly adding the cream
- Beat until creamy. If you want a thinner and more spreadable frosting, add a little more cream. For a thicker piping texture, less cream, which should produce something the texture of a store bought can of frosting.
- Divide into bowls and color.
Most recipes for this have become thoroughly modernized, requiring “meringue powder” and suchlike, which is cheating. You may do it that way if you wish, with perhaps excellent results, but I prefer the old way. It may concern you to use raw egg, but these are pasteurized eggs, and the lion does a fair amount toward also staving off bacteria.
- 3 pasteurized egg whites
- 4 c confectioners sugar
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (more if you would like a thinner icing)
- Food coloring
- Combine the ingredients in the mixer and best together until peaks form. You may add coloring at any time. If you want more than one color, add it by hand after dividing portions.
This is the most simple icing, and one that can be made very quickly as needed, if you run out during decorating.
- 1 c confectioners sugar
- 2 tsp milk
- 2 tsp corn syrup
- 1/4 tsp either vanilla or almond extract
- Food coloring (use gel colors with this recipe, as the colors of normal colorings tend to come out muted, and a gel will provide a more vivid color.)
- Mix ingredients and color
This can be used fresh as more of a glaze, or it can be turned into a frosting.
- Standing mixer or handheld mixer
- Mixing bowl
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 16 oz chocolate of your taste
- 2 Tbsp of a flavored liqueor
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Chop the chocolate into tiny bits and place it in the mixing bowl
- Heat the cream and extract/liqueor over medium heat until it begins to boil
- Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until smooth and shiny.
- It can now be used as a glaze, but if you wish it to become a frosting, allow to cool for several hours (you may speed this up a bit by cooling it in the refrigerator). To turn it into frosting, put the cooled mixture into the standing mixer and whip it for several minutes. It should become less shiny, paler, and generally take on a thicker consistency.
This is best applied with a piping bag or a knife. Cole down whatever you have frosted in order to help the ganache set.