Kids love decorating sugar cookies, it's like edible art. Some of my best memories with my children revolve around making food and creating artwork. So it just makes sense to make sugar cookies for them to decorate.
For a long time I stopped making desserts like these because of the high sugar content but lately we make and decorate these around the holidays as gifts for neighbors, friends, coworkers, the mail man, and just about anyone. My therapist, Dr. J still talks about these cookies since I always bring her some at Christmas. Food is a wonderful way to say thank you.
Of course we always end up eating our share!
In my attempt to improve on what I consider a “treat food” i.e. something that you don't eat very often, I have used organic cane sugar, organic powdered sugar and organic flour. We also use pure butter because it makes the cookie taste best.
A couple of tips for making these cookies look the best.
Don't skip the chilling of the dough. That might not seem like a big deal, but popping the cutout cookies in the freezer for 15-20 minutes will help them have nice edges and reduce spreading. Also, as soon as the cookies come out of the oven take a flat utensil and just lightly and gently flatten the tops so the icing stays on better.
When it comes to frosting, I like to keep ours simple to avoid food colorings. When you need to color your cookies because that is the fun part after all, use natural food colorings. We use India Tree:
for sugar sprinkles we use:
and Rainbow Sprinkles:
you can mix lots of colors naturally using India Tree Vegetable Colorants.
Traditional Sugar Cookies
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 sticks butter
- 2 cups cane sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3 cups organic powdered sugar
- 2 egg whites
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract (really you can use whatever flavor you like - try maple sometimes!)
- Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl.
- In a mixer, beat butter and sugar with mixer 2-3 minutes until fluffy.
- Reduce speed to lowest setting and gradually add in flour mixture.
- Divide dough in half.
- Shape each half into a flat disc.
- Wrap and refrigerate for an hour, minimum, or up to overnight.
- Bring dough out of the fridge and let it soften about 5-10 minutes just until it's soft enough to roll.
- Place dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll to 1/4 inch thick.
- Place rolled dough in the fridge to chill while you roll the second half.
- Chill the second half while you cut out the first half.
- Chill the cutout cookie shapes while you cut out the second half of dough, then chill those shapes!
- Put the first set of cookie cutouts onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake cookies 15-18 minutes until edges start to turn golden brown.*Tip, flatten cookies slightly right when they come out of the oven to make a flatter surface for decorating. Using gentle pressure and solid
- Cool completely on wire racks before decorating.
- Place egg whites in bowl of electric mixer.
- Beat for one minute.
- Add vanilla extract, powdered sugar, and cream of tartar, mix until smooth.
- Thin icing to desired consistency with milk or water or thicken with more sifted powdered sugar.
If you want to decorate cookies with lots of different colors, double the icing recipe so you'll have plenty. Keep a little extra powdered sugar in case you need to thicken the icing.