December 20, 2012

Day 11: Classic Sugar Cookies with Icing

The first time I experienced snowfall was on my 20th birthday, early spring in Yosemite National Park. Light little fluffs, drifting in the wind. Light little cotton puffs, falling on my skin. The first and only time, thus far, that I've seen freshly fallen snow. It was magical.

Someday, I hope to encounter specks large enough to see the unique lines of real snowflakes. In the meantime, these snowflake sugar cookies will have to do. Just like my first snowfall, these are my very first sugar cookies and also my first time decorating. So take it easy on me; it's definitely going to take awhile get the hang of it. I don't really know what real snowflakes look like. My imagination can only stretch so far.

And as I sit here watching The Nightmare Before Christmas and telling you about Day 11 of my 12 Days of Christmas Cookies, I already can't wait to go munch on the rest of them with a tall glass of milk. Sometimes I forget how good classic sugar cookies can be. I'll think they're overrated and totally been-there-done-that; kind of typical and vanilla. Boy am I wrong. They're a good kind of simple and the flavor is light enough to keep you coming back for more.

Also, think about it: you can use any cookie cutter you desire and decorate your cookies however you wish. Your imagination has no limits.

Classic Sugar Cookies with Amanda's Awesome Icing
Makes many cookies; depends on what shape and size cookie cutters you use

for dough
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons almond extract
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

for icing
1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted (very important to do so!)
1 tablespoon milk
1 drop lemon juice (optional)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

equipment prep
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Line your baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.

make dough
1. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time. Beat until everything is well combined.
3. Add in the vanilla and almond extracts and mix until combined.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Gradually (1 cup at a time) add the dry ingredients to your butter mixture. Mix until just combined, making sure that you do not overmix your dough. (The dough should still be soft; if the texture has become tough, then you've overmixed it.) Split the dough into half, roll each half into a slightly flattened ball, wrap it up in plastic wrap, and chill the dough in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before rolling and baking.

1. Roll the dough out to 1/4- or 1/8-inch thick and cut out cookies with your favorite cookie cutters. Place cut cookies on your prepared baking sheet about one inch apart.
2. Bake the cookies at 350°F for 6-8 minutes, or until light brown and the edges look done. If your cookies are thicker, you may need to bake about 1-2 minutes longer.

make icing
1. Sift confectioner's sugar. It's extremely crucial that you do this first! Otherwise you will have lumpy icing that you cannot pipe on your cookies.
2. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, the milk in a bowl. It would be easiest to stir with a spoon. The consistency should start off very thick and hard to stir.
3. **Important**
* If you need a thicker frosting, such as for outlining  or drawing lines on your cookies, then use less milk. Add more milk one teaspoon at a time to your frosting mix until you've reached the consistency you like for outlining your cookies. It should still be quite thick, but slightly runny enough for your to pipe outlines.
Next, you can either make a 2nd batch of icing or cut your current one in half, and add a little more milk to the 2nd batch until it is runnier than the first batch of icing, to use as the cookie "filler."
* If you are adding liquid food coloring, add less milk because the liquid will make the frosting runny. If you are using gel food color, then you can add as much milk as you regularly would per the consistency you want.
*If you want your icing to be glossier, add a little more cornstarch.

*** ENJOY!

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