Tuesday, February 19, 2013

SUGAR COOKIES: MY RECIPES & TIPS

As almost anyone who reads my blog or follows me on Instagram will know, I love making and decorating sugar cookies.  I really do.  I have realized that most of the time, I have more important stuff that I should be doing, so I am not turning sugar cookies into any kind of career.  (Nor will this become a cookie blog.)  I already have a career in food.  Sort of.  By proxy.  Anyway. . .

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I have started to get a lot of questions about what I do for sugar cookies.  There are a million different ways to do sugar cookies - like most things in the world.  I have found the one that works for me.

I use this basic recipe from All Recipes for the cookie.  It is good.  The only thing I do differently is add a teaspoon of almond extract, along with the vanilla.  I figured out about a year ago that I can only use real butter in these cookies to get them to turn out consistently.  Then I found out that lab rats won't eat margarine, because it is practically not a food substance.  Since then, I have only used the real deal butter when I make sugar cookies.  And almost everything else.

Basic tips for making and rolling out the cookies -
- Roll them out on parchment paper - then you do not have to move them at all, and they stay in their shape better.
- Get to the right consistency of dough.  It should not be sticky.  Add more flour if you need to.  This makes a huge difference in how much you like your life while making cookies.
- Practice really does help a lot.  The more you make cookies, the easier it becomes to get the results you want.

Moving on to icing.  What you probably don't realize, because you probably have not done extensive research on sugar cookie frosting techniques as I have (which makes me sound crazy), is that people have strong opinions about what frosting is used on sugar cookies.  Royal Icing is used most commonly, and it yields the perfect looking sugar cookies that you most likely find on Pinterest.

However, many people, including me, are not in love with how hard it dries and the taste of it.  I prefer Glaze on my sugar cookies.  The taste is better, it stays much softer, and but it still dries hard enough to be stackable.  However, you cannot get the fine details with glaze - it tends to be more goopy.

So - I finally decided that to make sugar cookies that look the way I want and taste the way I want, I need to use both kinds of frosting.  It is slightly more work, but it gets the results that I want, so it is worth it for me.  Also, both kinds of frosting keep in the fridge for long periods of time, since everything in them is shelf stable.  Usually I make large batches of both, and then I just color them and re-whip as needed.

For Royal Icing I use this recipe from Sugar Kissed.  It is supposed to be a softer royal icing and uses glycerin to keep it that way.  I have used this exclusively for some cookies, and I was pretty pleased with how they tasted.  I still like glaze better, but this recipe does taste good all over the cookies.

For the glaze, I use this recipe from All Recipes.  As a general rule, I "flood" all of my cookies with glaze.  So, I outline with Royal Icing and then fill them up with the glaze.  Then, I do the details with Royal Icing, because it is much more precise and holds it shape.

Basic tips for frosting -
- Consistency is key!  If I were the kind of person that used a lot of punctuation, I would have done a line of exclamation points on that.  Piping frosting needs to be stiff, but not so stiff that it will crack as it is coming out.  Flooding icing needs to be thin enough to spread easily and run all together, but not so thin that it runs off your cookie.  You determine how much control you have by the consistency of the frosting.
- I use gel colors.  Especially with the glaze, it is important to add white food coloring to it right off the bat.  Even though it is white.  This will make the white glaze more opaque and will allow it to take other colors better.

Well, that is about as basic as I can keep it without running on and on.  Other people do this much better than I do.  As I have mentioned before, Sweet Sugarbelle is one of my favorite cookie bloggers.  Her site is excellent and easy to navigate and includes detailed tutorials and in-depth explanations of stuff like icing consistency.  If you are really interested in cookies, I would check her out.

Please feel free to ask questions - I clearly enjoy this little hobby and like talking about it.  Also - I think it is easier than it looks to achieve results that you would be pleased with.  It just takes a little knowledge and practice.

Also, you can order beautiful sugar cookies on Etsy or at your local bakery if making them seems like too much work.  Always a good option.

5 comments:

Janine Eshelbrenner said...

I am so glad to hear that you enjoy my royal icing recipe! I haven't experimented with glaze yet but have had it on my to-do list for awhile. I am anxious to try flooding my cookies with glaze and then doing the rest of the decorating with royal icing as you mentioned. But I cringe at the thought of having to make two different kinds of icing! :) Any advise for someone that is used to royal icing and new to glaze?

JennyMac said...

Super info, Carol! Do you use a bag or a squeeze bottle to pipe outlines and detail work? this post gives me some confidence...I think I'm gonna give this a try for the baby shower cookies! -Jen

Tales from Goshen said...

This is fabulous information, Carol. I can never get even close to what I want when I make sugar cookies. You better believe I'll have your blog pulled up next time I start baking them. You're awesome!

Mrs.T_82 said...

Also if you put them in the freezer after you cut out the shapes for 5min or so they will not spread out as much.

Mrs.T_82 said...

Also if you put them in the freezer after you cut out the shapes for 5min or so they will not spread out as much.