Sugar cookies with Royal Icing

So I did a lot of research for this. I wasn't hoping for a cookie that would be too fluffy. I was definitely in the mood to decorate the tops, in the spirit of Christmas. After a little bit of research I was able to find a good combo, both the cookie and the icing. The cookie is simple, sweet, and delicious.

( credit for cookie recipe goes to Annie's Eats! She has an amazing blog! )

Ella’s White Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 ½ c. sifted flour

Directions:Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool. Yields ~40 cookies.

(From Annie's Eats- Source: passed on to me by family friend Donna)

Then, the icing, I used Alton Brown's recipe from Food Network. I was nervous about using Royal Icing, because you need egg whites, but after watching his tutorial and reading very knowledgeable baker's comment, I knew that the raw eggs wouldn't be a problem anymore!

** And any bakers who can not find pasteurized egg whites- slowly stir the egg whites with a whisk over a double boiler until they are warm to the touch (voila! pasteurized egg whites then proceed with recipe/process.

Royal Icing
- 3 ounces pasteurized egg whites 
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar

    Directions: (** if not using pasteurized eggs, follow the tip above first!) In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners' sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days. 

    Here's how I iced my cookies!

    First, you need to pipe the outline of the cookies. Take some of the Royal Icing you just made, and put it in either a piping bag or a Ziploc bag, and cut the corner. Pipe cookies and let it sit for at least an hour. 

    I did a green set and a white set. Pretty cute! :D
    Getting ready for the flooding!

    The next step after letting the icing set is to fill them in, AKA flooding. Take the frosting you have remaining, and put it in a bowl. One teaspoon at a time, add water until the frosting has slightly thinned (where it can run off a spoon smoothly, and be "reabsorbed" back into the frosting, about 5-10 seconds). Let this new frosting sit for about 5 minutes. When you come back, you'll see some bubbles have appeared. Gently mix the bubbles out, just grazing the top of the frosting, not heavily mixing all over again. You're now ready to fill! Take a spoonful and put it in the center of the cookie. Then with a toothpick, guide the frosting to the piped outlines. Once your done, you can immedietely add decorations that need to stick. Or if you are going to continue piping, let the flooded frosting set for a couple hours. I just did sprinkles and other decorations that needed to stick.

    Each cookie was different :D

    As promised, I also made some "snow covered trees". 

    This is definitely a time-consuming process, but the results are worth it. Never have I been able to make such an ornate cookie! They were a big hit with the party I took them so, and some that I sent with Adam to his workplace. I think I'll have to keep this one in the books. Christmas tradition? :D

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