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Christmas cookies with a flair.
I love making my own decorations for Christmas. It really gets me in the Christmas mood. I'm sort of a Bah! Humbug! person, so anything I can do to mellow myself out and help myself enjoy the season is on my "to do" list.
I guess I've made just about every Christmas tree decoration you can think of over the years...from strings of cranberries and popcorn, to glittery baubles, to garlands of beautiful silky ribbon. But the decorations I like the best are the ones you can eat...like colorful iced cookies you hang on the tree with a bit of satin ribbon.
Actually, I think I can say I'm an expert at making charming sugar cookie cut outs you can hang on the tree. I have collected a variety of cookie cutters and have a list of the various ingredients to make this project a creative and fun one. Be sure you have some of the basic cutters, like a star, a Christmas tree, an angel, a reindeer, a snow flake, a Santa and a gingerbread man. Anything else you want to add to that is just icing on the cake...so to speak.
In addition, you'll need: powdered egg whites, (or meringue powder), liquid food coloring, a small pastry brush, a small pointy paint brush, several small dishes or cups, and cake a decorating bag and tips. You might also have on hand some green and red sugars and other types of colorful decorations you can sprinkle on. I've included recipes for vanilla sugar and gingerbread cookies, as well as a video to demonstrate an efficient way to mix and cut out the dough. After this, I have put instructions and tips on how to decorate.
making sugar cookies
- 1 1/2 cup(s) (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup(s) sugar
- 1 large egg
- 2 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
- 4 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) salt
- In a bowl, with mixer on medium, beat butter and sugar until fluffy; beat in egg and vanilla extract. On low, beat in flour and salt.
- Divide dough in half; shape each half into a 1/2-inch-thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap; chill until firm.
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- On floured surface, roll dough 1/8-inch thick; cut into shapes. Transfer to ungreased baking sheet(s). Bake until lightly golden around the edges, 10 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes on sheets; transfer to racks to cool. Decorate as desired; store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks, or freeze, undecorated, up to 3 months
- 1/2 cup(s) sugar
- 1/2 cup(s) light (mild) molasses
- 2 teaspoon(s) ground ginger
- 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) ground nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon(s) ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
- 1/2 cup(s) (1 stick) butter or margarine, cut into chunks
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3 1/2 cup(s) all-purpose flour
- Colored sugar crystals, edible glitter, sprinkles, small round candies, and/or gumdrops (optional)
- Ornamental Frosting (optional), see directions
- In 3-quart saucepan, heat sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and pepper to boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Remove saucepan from heat; stir in baking soda (mixture will foam up in pan). Stir in butter until melted. With fork, stir in egg, then flour.
- On lightly floured surface, knead dough until thoroughly mixed. Divide dough in half. Wrap half of dough with plastic wrap and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. With floured rolling pin, roll remaining half of dough slightly thinner than 1/4 inch. With floured 3- to 4-inch assorted cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; reserve trimmings. Place cookies, 1/2 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet. Reroll trimmings and cut out more cookies.
- Bake cookies 12 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough.
- When cookies are cool, prepare Ornamental Frosting if you like; use to decorate cookies as desired. While frosting is still wet, sprinkle with sugar crystals or glitter, or attach sprinkles, candies, and/or gumdrops if you like. Set cookies aside to allow frosting to dry completely, about 1 hour. Store cookies in tightly covered container (with waxed paper between layers, if decorated) at room temperature up to 2 weeks, or in freezer up to 3 months.
Now for the fun part
Combine all ingredients into a small mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed till combined, then on high speed for 7 to 10 min. or till stiff. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons additional warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, till of glazing consistency. Divide icing into small cups or dishes and add food coloring, one drop at a time until you have the color you want, leaving the largest batch of the icing white.
Use at once. Spread each cookie almost to edge with glaze. Let dry on wire rack at least 4 hours or till completely dry. Paint as desired. Painting Directions: Place small dabs of desired paste food colorings on palette paper. Using a #2 shader brush, paint the largest shape of the design in the center of the cookie. Let food coloring dry completely. Add additional shapes using a #2 filbert brush, letting each color dry before adding another. Outline shapes with a #1 script liner brush. Let dry thoroughly.
Instead of painting on your designs, you may pipe on colored Royal icing, as shown in the pictures of animal and flower cookies. Use interesting and unusual color combinations, as shown. You may also pipe or paint on recipient's names, if you plan on giving some of your art work away.