Sugar cookies are a favorite to decorate for various holidays. Most of the time we make these for Valentine's Day, Easter, and Christmas. We like our sugar cookies big and soft. Years and years ago I decided to try icing them with royal icing. The colors are vibrant, the icing gets hard so the designs don't get mussed up, and it is really very easy to work with.
Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
1 c. butter
1 c. shortening
2 c. sugar
4 beaten eggs
1 c. buttermilk or sour cream
1 tbsp. vanilla
7 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. nutmeg
Cream shortening, butter, and sugar together for 4 minutes. Add eggs; beat for another 4 minutes or until very fluffy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the vanilla. Add 3 cups flour and buttermilk. Mix until incorporated. Add remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Mix until well combined. Refrigerate dough for one hour. Roll out on well floured surface until 1/4 inch thick. Cut out with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350 for 7-10 minutes. Let cool before frosting.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp. meringue powder (or two raw egg whites)
6 Tbsp. water (if using meringue powder)
Beat on high for 7 minutes until very light, fluffy, and shiny. See photo below. At this stage we use the royal icing for making gingerbread houses. But for icing cookies it needs to be much thinner.
Divide icing into bowls and add food coloring. You'll find your icing will thicken a little. See how it doesn't even drip off the spoon?
You'll need to add more water, a teaspoon at a time, stirring very well until you get icing that falls right off the spoon but is still thick enough to keep its shape a little. In the photo below the icing is drizzling off the spoon but still keeps a shape when it hits the icing in the bowl.
Now for the fun part!
For each of these cookies just use a spoon to spread your background color into your cookie.
For hearts that go around the cookie place dots all along the edge.
For this next cookie you'll make swirl designs. I'm showing on the same cookie how to do it two different directions.
The last design is a big spiral. With your contrasting colors make several X's in the background color.
Starting in the center of the heart drag the tip of your toothpick around and around in a spiral pattern going outward.
Isn't that pretty?
Now using these simple techniques try making your own Valentine cookies and see if you can create new patterns and designs.
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