A good sugar cookie recipe is like your favourite pair of jeans – well worn, familiar and what you go back to when nothing else fits. That’s how I feel about this recipe. It is a little different than traditional sugar cookie recipes in that it uses icing sugar in the place of regular sugar, which keeps the cookies so tender that they literally melt in your mouth. They work well just shaped into balls and baked, and can also be rolled out and cut with your favourite seasonal cookie cutters.
Icing Sugar Cookies
- 1 c unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 c sifted icing sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 c sifted pastry flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar and mix until smooth.
- Add egg yolks slowly to butter mixture and mix until combined. Stir in vanilla.
- Add pastry flour and salt and combine just until dough comes together. Shape into a disc, wrap in saran wrap and chill for 2 hours if rolling.
- Preheat oven to 325 °F. Dust rolling surface with icing sugar and knead dough slightly to soften. Roll out dough to ¼ -inch thick and cut out desired shapes.
- Chill unused dough and re-roll to cut again. Place dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake on the center rack of the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until bottom of cookies turn a light golden brown. Remove cookies from pan onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
The cookies are perfect to eat now as they are, but if you want to go one step further you can make them look pretty with royal icing. I’m going to admit to you at this point that this was my first attempt at the technique of “flooding” with icing. I have made royal icing in the past and usually just pass the cookies off to my kids to decorate as they see fit and call it a day. I’ve always been more of a rustic, all-for-taste-and-less-about-making-them-look-fancy kind of baker. The thing is that icing a cookie requires a steady hand and some drawing technique, and anyone that has ever seen my drawing knows that I’m just not that good at it. So keep that in mind when you look at the end result, below!
- Stir together ingredients, then beat with electric beaters on high speed until mixture is stiff (7-8 min).
- Tint portions of icing as desired with gel food colouring.
- Thin icing with drops of water for pouring/flooding.
Decorating with Royal Icing
Since I do not have a pile of decorating tools sitting around in my cupboard, I decided to try my hand with the most simple tools – a plastic ziploc bag and a few bowls and spoons.
- Divide your royal icing into several smaller bowls depending on how many colours you want to work with. Mix a small amount of the gel food colouring into each bowl (the colour is very strong, so less is more) . If the icing is too thick, thin slightly with water until it has the consistency of toothpaste.
- Spoon about 2/3 of the icing into the corner of a small ziploc bag and close the bag. Snip off the corner of the bag and use the icing to outline the edge of the cookie.
- Thin the remaining icing in the bowl with water until it has the consistency of syrup. Spoon the icing onto the cookie surface and spread to the edges of the outline. Allow to dry for several hours.
- If you would like to add more detail for a textured look, use thinned icing and a toothpick or another ziploc bag.
- Have fun and be creative!
All photos by Anita Woo.