Let's get a couple things out of the way before you see my sugar cookies, mkay? I am not, have never been, and will definitely never be Martha Stewart. I do not do fussy, and that applies 110% to cookie decorating. Growing up, sugar cookies were made for eating, not for looking. Bright blue candy cane? Well, as long as it tastes good, who cares? Orange dove? Ditto. So I never joined the ranks of the royal icing pipers, meticulously outlining intricate shapes on perfectly cut out little cookies. Uh uh. Fiddly little buggers, piping tips are. However, there I was, one perfectly nice morning, hunched over cookies with my piping bag and a teeny-ass little piping tip, outlining stockings and candy canes and trains and the like. And let me tell you, these cookies better taste good after all that work. They sure aren't going to win in the looks department:
See? I should just stay away from royal icing. But here was my dilemma - why not at least try it? I had a leftover egg white from the cookie recipe that could quickly and easily be re-purposed for royal icing (recipe below). I had actually remembered to bring some piping bags and tips, as well as my food coloring gels. A quick trip to the store later, I even had red and green decorating sugars. Well dang, I guess it was just time to embark upon the adventure.
However, after over an hour of careful piping, flooding, sprinkling, and drying, I was a bit underwhelmed. I mean, I'd have to do this a heck of a lot of times to get good at it! And since when has royal icing tasted better than just plain old powdered sugar frosting? Especially when it's dyed in technicolor? Since never, that's when! But I guess it was good to get out of my comfort zone. I'll warn you though, the rest of my cookies will be happily frosted with my standard sugar cookie frosting tonight, with the boyfriend, while watching the last few episodes of Firefly. Followed perhaps by Serenity, the movie inspired by the series. Seriously, that series is addictive, you people should watch it sometime. Clever little show, too bad it only ran for one season.
Oh, and the cookies? (Sorry, I derail easily.) Umm... meh? They're not my grandmother's recipe. Or to be specific, my great-grandmother's recipe. Now that's a winner. Cakey soft, yet sturdy enough for frosting. I know many people will gasp, but shortening sometimes just makes better baked goods. Not to mention you don't have to chill the dough every 5 minutes. Fiddly cookies are not my friend. But thank you to Ulrike of Kuchenlatein for picking them. Head over to her blog sometime - she has some of the most wonderful bread recipes over there.
1 egg white
1 tsp lemon juice
1-1 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Whisk together the egg white and lemon juice until lightly frothy. Whisk in the sifted powdered sugar 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Flooding consistency should only take 1 to 1 1/4 cups, while the outside lining of each cookie should be done with icing made with 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar.
Sugar Cookies (my great-grandmother's recipe)
3¾ cup flour, divided
1½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup shortening
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites, beaten
⅔ cup milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift together sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and 1 cup of the flour. Cut in the shortening. Add in the egg yolks, beaten egg whites, milk, and vanilla extract. Add in as much of the remaining 1¾ cups flour as needed to make either drop or rollout cookies. Bake cookies at 350°F until just brown on the edges.
Next Week: Buttery Jam Cookies