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Iced Sugar Cookies

Last week was Emily’s birthday and icing cookies is always a huge hit as a party activity. I have the set-up down to a fine art these days as we decorate cookies at their parties every year. As you can see from the photo’s above the kids do a fantastic job, the icing dries really fast and they love to have them to take home as a party treat. My friend Elizabeth Gordon is the author of two cookbooks devoted to allergy free cooking, in her second book The Complete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook she has a recipe for an allergy free shortbread cookie which is a fantastic substitute if you have kids coming to the party who can’t eat these and still want to join in the fun.

Sugar cookies are easy to make, and with so many different options for shapes and decorating you can get really creative, and they are always a welcome addition at school bake sales. The photo’s below show the face cookies we made recently for the girls school – we were sold out in no time. I have to confess that I found the idea for them whilst surfing around on flickr which is where I head whenever I’m in need of some cookie inspiration.

When I first started making sugar cookies I went through lots of recipe variations, some were hard as nails once baked, some where impossible to roll out, some just didn’t taste that great and others fell apart or cracked once out of the oven, which is pretty bad if you’re making circles, but terrible if all your butterflies lose their wings before the icing stage. This recipe is simple, rolls out well and produces cookies that are hard enough to hold shapes but are still tender. A note about the butter, in this recipe you will taste it, so it’s better to splash out and use a good quality salted butter, I like the European ones like Kerrygold or Lurpak, rather than unsalted butter which will leave you with a bland cookie.

Sugar cookie recipe
Makes about  24 (3″ round 1/4″ thick)

8oz salted butter (at room temperature)
8oz sugar
2 eggs
16oz plain/all purpose flour

Mix together the sugar and butter (I use a stand mixer but as Lorna points out it can of course be done with a wooden spoon and some arm power), add the eggs mixing well and then add the flour to get a soft dough. Wrap the dough in cling film and put it in the fridge for a couple of hours to harden it up and make it easier to deal with during rolling out. On a well floured surface (with a well floured rolling pin) roll the dough to about 1/4″ thick, I cheat, I have these handy plastic rings that slide onto my rolling pin to take out the guess work, but it doesn’t need to be so perfect. Then cut to the desired shape and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper or one of those nifty silicone matts. Bake in a 350F oven for about 13 minutes. They shouldn’t really brown so you can tell when they are done by the fact that they hold together if you nudge them. Cool on a wire rack completely before icing. These will store in and airtight container for about a week, and perhaps even longer, but it’s impossible for me to test that theory as in our house they never last long enough!

Icing recipe
Makes enough to fill one 2oz squeeze bottle

Approx 3/4 cup Icing/confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon Golden syrup
Water – add this slowly a tsp at a time until it’s the right consistency
Gel food colors (I use Wilton) enough to get the desired color
*Please note that if you use a liquid food color it will thin the icing, which isn’t really a problem, you’ll just need to add more icing sugar to thicken it back up again*

In a small bowl mix the Golden syrup into the confectioners sugar adding water a bit at a time as needed to thin the icing to a good consistency. It should be thicker than you think – aim for that of honey. Then add the food color and mix it until it’s an even shade throughout. I find it helpful to then put it into one of the squeeze bottles, it is a good way to store it and if I’m doing details I can use the top attachment but if I just want a blanket coat of one color I can just blob some out and spread it with the back of a small spoon. I’ve found the icing keeps in the fridge for a least a month, in the squeeze bottle with the storage lid on, and when you want to use it again you just add a tiny drop of water, give it a quick mix and it’s back to being as good as new – Melani

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Larraine - Oh I absolutely love these! Such wonderful and vibrant colours my 2 will want to make these as soon as I show them your pictures. What a great idea for a party too, my little one is going to be 5 in November so an indoor party, decorating these will be just the thing, thank you for being so inspiring x

Melani - You are very welcome : )

The great family christmas cookie decorating contest – year one - Jennifer Chase Photography - […] sugar and water.  The Kitchn has a good tutorial on working with royal icing.  Pioneer woman and Green Figs and Ham have great cookie decorating tips […]

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