Sugar Cookie Extraordinaire, My New Favorite

Just days after Christmas, I received an extraordinary gift box from a favorite niece of mine. Such a specialized treat that warms my heart. We had just completed our first trial run showcasing Only Ornaments at Bel Tree Farm, a fabulous Christmas tree farm in Salina, Kansas. A new experience, a lot of fun, and a new learning curve. 
This fabulous box of cookies was the topping on the cake, or should I say ornaments. As if being decorated with our ornaments in mind wasn't enough, the scent of almond and vanilla when opening the box, brought Christmas right back into our hearts and minds. I opened the package repeatedly, not only to taste the deliciousness inside but to fill the house with the scent of love. Try this recipe, and you will be glad you did. You don't have to wait another twelve months, use it for the upcoming holidays. Valentine's, St. Patricks Day, Easter, and throughout the year, feel the love. Give love. It feels good. 
Soft Sugar Cookies
4 Sticks softened butter
2 Cups sugar
3 Large eggs
2 Teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
5 - 7 Cups flour
Whip butter. Add sugar. Add eggs. Add vanilla or almond. Add flour 1 cup at a time until not sticky. Roll out 1/4 inch thick. Cut out cookies and put them on a baking pan. Refrigerate for 15-30 minutes. Bake at 350 for 12 minutes. Makes approximately 48 cookies.
                                                        Royal Icing
Use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment to start.
1/3 cup Meringue Powder
1/2 cup warm water (start with a tiny bit more if you will not be adding the lemon juice from the next steps.
Whisk until doubled in size, 1-2 minutes. Do not over mix.
1/4 - 1 tsp butter flavoring (don't miss this step, it's worth it.)
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice (optional and cuts the sweetness of the icing nicely.
Mix until just incorporated
1 lb of confectioners sugar (Mix until incorporated)
1 tbsp light corn syrup (optional) 
Mix until incorporated
1 lb of confectioners sugar (Mix until incorporated)
Continue to mix for about 3 minutes on high - your icing will start to turn white and have a fluffy look. Do NOT overmix. Overmixing can cause the icing to collapse and will yield a very stiff icing. If you feel it is too thick to start, add small amounts of water, BUT, it is best to start with very stiff icing for a few reasons. If you are going to store it at all before using, the less water, the less it separates. When you color your icing, this adds liquid, so don't add too much water to start. Add your color, then your water, to bring it to the consistency you want.  Spread, let harden. 
Enjoy!
pk

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