So, anyone who knows me well knows that I love to bake. Bake and decorate, as the case may be. A few years ago, before George W’s re-election, I ordered some GOP elephant cookie cutters and decided to spread the Republican love via cookies! I made some again this election season, and they were a hit!
I always use the same Sugar Cookie recipe. It is one that my 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Sommers used when we made cookies one Christmas in class. I actually still have the recipe on notebook paper that I hand wrote as a 2nd grader. For decorating, I use either a classic buttercream or royal icing. Buttercream tastes infinitely better, but doesn’t lend itself as easily to the details of decorating. Below are the recipes for both the cookies and the two icings. Enjoy!
1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons milk or cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
3 1/2 cups plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and blend until smooth and fluffy. Stir in milk and flavorings. Sift dry ingredients together and blend in. Chill dough, roll out thin, cut cookies. (I am always sure to use plenty of flour when rolling out my cookies)
Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown around the edges. Underbake by a few minutes for a softer cookie.
Royal Icing (Decorating Icing)
3 cups powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons meringue powder
1/4 cup cold water
Food coloring gel or paste (optional)
Beat first 3 ingredients at high speed in an electric mixer, using whisk attachment, until glossy, stiff peaks form. Tint icing with coloring and beat until well blended. Place a damp cloth or paper towel directly on the surface of the icing to prevent crust from forming.
To decorate, I use a plastic zip top bag fitted with a #3 icing tip. I first outline the design of the cookie with the above recipe, then add water to thin out the icing and “flood” the inside of the lines.
Buttercream Icing (delicious on cookies, cakes, cupcakes, or by itself!)
1 lb powdered sugar (approximately 3 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
3-4 Tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine in large bowl and mix at low speed, increasing to medium speed until smooth and creamy. If desired add more milk until frosting is at spreading consistency. ( I like to beat mine for a few minutes at high speed to whip air into it to make it light and fluffy).