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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Organized Holidays - Decorating Cookies

Kids LOVE to help in the kitchen, and it doesn't get much better than making cookies AND decorating them however you want in my house.  We will have several rounds of holiday baking and decorating before the season is over.

For sugar cookies, we use the Better Homes and Gardens recipe from a "100 Best Cookies" magazine I picked up many years ago.  I've copied the recipe here for your convenience, but you can also print it or save it for later at the website linked above.
Prep Time: 30 mins

Total Time: 1 hr 38 mins

Servings: Makes about 48


  • 1/3 cup  butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup  shortening
  • 3/4 cup  sugar
  • 1 teaspoon  baking powder
  • Dash  salt
  • 1   egg
  • 1 teaspoon  vanilla
  • 2 cups  all-purpose flour
  • 1 recipe  Royal Icing Glaze


In a medium bowl combine butter and shortening; beat with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Cover; chill about 1 hour or until dough is easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Divide dough into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, roll dough one portion at a time to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut dough using 2-1/2- to 5-inch star-shape cutters. Place star cutouts on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool.
The icing recipe comes with the same sugar cookie recipe linked above.

Royal Icing Glaze: In a small bowl combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 4 teaspoons meringue powder,* and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. Stir in 1/4 cup warm water. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until combined, then on high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until very stiff. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional warm water 1 teaspoon at a time until icing is of glazing consistency.

*Note: Meringue powder is a mixture of pasteurized egg whites, sugar, and edible gums. Look for it in the baking aisle of your supermarket or at a specialty food store.

I couldn't find the Meringue powder, so I just used pasteurized powdered egg whites from my store's natural foods section.  I also added a 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla, and I didn't need to add any water after the first 1/4 cup.  The icing tastes almost bitter by itself, but the finished cookies are yummy!!  Be sure to mix the icing right before you use it, or at least re-mix it on high for a minute or two.
The kids used basting brushes and spoons to "paint" the icing on the cookies, and then green sugar sprinkles to finish them.  When they lost interest in decorating (after about 15 minutes!),  I finished up the decorating and let the cookies set.  Once the icing sets, you can stack the cookies without disrupting the decorations (with this recipe).    

The recipe also indicates you can make the cookies ahead of time and freeze them undecorated for up to 3 months, then thaw them before decorating.  Now that would be planning ahead!

There are many other Christmas cookie recipes to enjoy making, sharing, and of course eating!! 

What is your favorite holiday cookie recipe??  Happy baking!!

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