Perfect for gifting, snacking, decorating, and sharing, these beautiful sugar cookies are a multi-step process, but you’ll be amazed at the gorgeous, professional results. Don’t take shortcuts with this recipe, it’s an important part of the process to let the dough chill and the icing harden between steps. Luckily, this gives you plenty of time to pop on your favorite holiday movie and snuggle on the couch with family and friends.
Holiday Ornament Cookies
- Cookie cutters of your choice, such as, a candy wrapper, snowflake, and mitten
- Stand mixer (with a paddle attachment)
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Mixing bowls
- Piping bags
- Parchment paper
- Baking sheet
- Small piping tip
- Rolling Pin
- Rubber spatula
- Gel food coloring of your choice
- Sanding sugar (white or colors)
- 1 cup butter, softened to room temperature (or organic vegan shortening)
- 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. sugar (or coconut sugar)
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 3 cups all-purpose flour (or all-purpose gluten-free flour)
- ½ tsp. salt
- 2 Tbsp. meringue powder
- 7 Tbsp. water
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla for about 3 minutes, until well mixed and creamy.
- Add the eggs and mix until incorporated.
- Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl.
- With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the sugar-butter mixture, and beat until incorporated.
- Chill the dough for 20 minutes. Once the dough is chilled, roll it out on a lightly floured work surface until the dough is about ⅛ inch thick. Cut out cookies with the cookie cutters. Place your cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. With the top of a small piping tip (or any small circular object) cut out little circles on the tops of each cookie large enough to string twine through. Chill in the freezer until the cookies are hard.
- Once your cookies are hard, immediately bake them in the oven at 375° for about 5-8 minutes. You want the top of the cookies to turn golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, whisk (by hand) the meringue powder and water until frothy.
- Add in the powdered sugar and beat on medium-high for a few minutes, until thick and fluffy. Don't skip this step, the longer you beat it, the fluffier it will become. At first it may look too thin, but it will thicken up. If it’s still too thin, add a bit more powdered sugar. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water.
- This will be for your piping and outlining. Divide it amongst different bowls and color each accordingly.
- Add each color to their own small piping bag, fitted with a #2 or #3 attachment, and set aside until ready to use.
- With the remaining thick royal icing, add a little water to each bowl and mix until the consistency is thinner, and has a more steady stream when lifted up with a spoon. Add the thinner royal icing to their own bags (without a tip) and set aside. This will be for filling in your cookies. Note: make sure to cover any remaining royal icing with plastic wrap. When it’s exposed to air, it starts to harden immediately.
- Take your thicker royal icing (the first batch) and outline your designs on your cookies. This will create a “dam” and trap in the thinner icing.
- Once you’re finished outlining all of your cookies, flood them with the thinner icing. Cut a small tip off the end of your piping bag and start to fill in with the icing. Once each cookie is finished, hold onto the sides of each cookie and lightly tap it down on your work surface. This helps to bring all the air bubbles to the surface of the cookie. If you see a major air bubble, you can pop it with a toothpick!
- Let this first coat dry for a few hours. Once it has dried completely, you can decorate the tops with the thicker royal icing and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Let these cookies sit out for at least 8 hours before gifting or decorating with them. They may look completely dry after a couple of hours, but the underneath is still wet and they can crack if handled too soon.
- String twine through each hole and tie the end together with a knot.