Fall is here, and with the leaves changing and sweaters coming out of storage, cookie baking season is soon to be in full swing. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and many other holidays are on the calendar, and you and your family are sure to be spending some time in the kitchen baking up these tasty and timeless treats. Everyone has their favorite take on the cookie, one of the most flexible and widely loved snacks out there, but few are truly able to make the PERFECT cookie. When you’re gathered with those you love most around the holidays, nothing fills your soul quite like a warm and delicious cookie that you spent time rolling out and decorating with your own hands. Every cookie is wonderful in its own way, whether it be chocolate chip or snickerdoodle, but the ‘blank template’ nature of the sugar cookie allows open expression and creativity that is perfect for the holiday season. Luckily for us (and you!), we have our resident ‘Cookie Specialist’ Rachel Van Stratton to give us her tips, tricks, and even a RECIPE to make the perfect sugar cookie that will be sure to wow those at your decorating party.
With so many holidays coming up with so many different color schemes and themes, having the empty canvas of a sugar cookie can allow you to decorate with various cookie cutters, colored icing and sprinkles that will let you stamp your creativity onto the cookie. Here’s the recipe we’ll be working with today, and we’ll follow up with decorating steps and additional tricks of the trade to get you off your phone and get rolling (rolling as in ‘rolling the dough,’ get it?):
2 cups softened butter
3 cups sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond)
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons salt
9 cups flour (if you are making the dough to chill and use the next day only use 8 cups)
Cookie Decorating Special Equipment:
-Cookie cutters of your choice
-Liquid gel-based food coloring
-Piping bag & tip
Preheat oven to 375⁰F.
Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs and flavoring, Mix well.
Add baking powder and salt. Mix again. Add flour 1 cup at a time.
Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment paper. Cut out
shapes with cookie cutter. Bake for 5-6 minutes, flip the tray, bake another 3-4 min. If you are using chilled dough you may need to add more time. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for 10 minutes.
After the cookies are done and cooled, it’s time to get decorating! Whether using store-bought or homemade icing, getting the proper consistency and water/icing balance is key to getting that perfect look and texture for your goals. Rachel recommends using a spray bottle while mixing to get an even, thin coat of water in your icing to your desired thickness (think toothpaste consistency) before putting into a piping bag with tip. For icing color, Rachel prefers a liquid gel-based food dye mixed in with the icing drop by drop and mixing with a small spatula until the desired shade is made. She pipes an icing border on the outside edges of the cookie, then fills in the icing and evens out the layer, removing air bubbles with a toothpick or awl. After they have dried and you have a nice clean surface to decorate on, feel free to use a stencil or edible markers to make them your own, or you can even free hand it!
Naturally, there are hundreds of tips and tricks of the trade to make sugar cookies special, but with this recipe and a few more secrets (along with taking some of our informative cookie decorating courses at The Culinary Center of Kansas City®), your cookies will be the talk of the holidays. Here are a few last minute secrets of Rachel’s to get you on your way:
- Roll your dough into slabs of your preferred thickness BEFORE you put them into the refrigerator, that way they’re more easily stacked, ready to be cut out and stored in your refrigerator if you’re making them in batches.
- If you don’t want to mix a lot of different colors remember you can always use sprinkles to “color” that area. Cover the area you want to sprinkle in icing, dip the cookie, then shake off the excess.
- Use cupcake liners and a cupcake pan to organize your sprinkles and toppings to be ready for decorating and easy clean up.
- Feel free to put food coloring into the dough itself to have some fun variety if you’d like some orange cookies for Halloween or red for Christmas time.
Want to take a cookie decorating class by Rachel or another one of our fine Instructors? Click here to view our class calendar!