Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day or Hallowe’en, there are certain festive occasions that just cry out for a batch of colourful sugar cookies. I tested this recipe out over Hallowe’en and the results were great – the cookies were crisp on the outside while still a little bit soft and cake-y on the inside, and they held up perfectly with decorating.
Makes: 30-40 cookies
Time: 20 minutes to make the dough, at least 1 hour (preferably overnight) for chilling, 1 hour 15 minutes for cutting/baking
What you’ll need
3/4 cups (188g) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
What to do
Begin by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla and continue mixing until well combined. Then, add the flour, baking powder and salt (ensuring the baking powder and salt are mixed through evenly), and that’s it, you have your dough!
Chill the dough for at least an hour, or longer if you have the time (ideally overnight). The colder it is, the easier it will be to roll out.
Once you’re ready to get cookie cutting, turn the oven to to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F. On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out until it’s about 1/2cm thick. Use your cookie cutters to make your shapes, then transfer the cookies to baking sheets. Cook for about 7 minutes or until the cookies are just golden brown.
Leave them to cool on the baking sheets for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Now for the fun part!
What you’ll need
500g royal icing sugar
food colouring of your choice
First things first, don’t begin decorating until your cookies are 100% cool.
To make your icing, you’ll need to employ a bit of trial and error to find the golden ratio of icing sugar, food colouring and water that will give you an icing that’s the right colour and consistency.
Mix these three ingredients together until you’re satisfied – for an icing that will cover the entire cookie, aim for a consistency similar to that that of custard. If you need to thicken your icing, add more icing sugar; if you need to make it runnier, add more water.
If you decide you want to pipe some detail onto your cookies or add a second base colour, you will need to make sure that the first spreading of icing is completely dry before you do. For piping and detail work, the icing should be a bit thicker and able to hold its shape once it’s on the cookie.
Otherwise, there’s really no limit on how creative you can be, so go for it! And remember, even if you botch the icing on a few of the cookies (as is bound to happen), they’ll still taste delicious.