I ended up taking a cookie decorating class one afternoon with Toba Garrett at the Institute of Culinary Education. As a result of her amazing class, I bought her book. Toba taught us how to use royal icing to decorate cookies, and innovative decorating techniques. She also taught us about flavoring royal icing to match the colors because people expect things to taste like what they look like. Her class was GENIUS. If you ever find yourself in NYC, take one of her classes. She’s brilliant. It’s fun to meet people, too. (Really, all classes I’ve taken there were spectacular. I highly recommend the entire experience.)
Finding the perfect recipe for cookie cutters is tough! There’s nothing worse than a cookie that loses its form after you have put so much time into crafting it. As a result of all my mistakes, I wanted to share my favorite cookie recipe. This recipe was given to me during Toba’s class, and it’s never steered me wrong. I don’t dare say it’s foolproof (nothing ever is for me!), but it is easy, simple, and perfect to use with royal icing because the cookies bake evenly.
- 1 cup of unsalted butter (let set out for 15 minutes before using)
- 1 cup of granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon of baking powder
- 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
- 3 cups of all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out dough.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- In large bowl, cream butter and sugar with mixer for 2 minutes. Stop and scrape bowl. Cream for an additional 60 seconds. Butter and sugar should not be emulsified.
- Beat in the egg and vanilla. Beat until well combined (15-20 seconds).
- Sift together baking powder and flour. Add flour mixture 1 cup at a time to the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Mix thoroughly after each addition. Dough will be stiff. Avoid over mixing.
- Divide dough into 2 balls. Wrap one ball in plastic wrap until ready to use. (Could be frozen for 3 months.)
- Divide remaining dough in two. On floured surface, roll out one of the halves to about ⅛-1/4 inch thick. Use a large offset spatula to run under the dough to prevent sticking.
- Cut out cookies with cookie cutters, dipping cutters into flour before each use.
- Place onto ungreased non-stick cookie sheet or a parchment lined half sheet pan. Bake 6-8 minutes or until edges slightly brown. Let cookies rest on cookie sheet until ready to use.
Notes from the Kitchen – Christmas Sugar Cookies:
- Toba taught us that we shouldn’t use Tupperware to keep cookies fresh. A cardboard box is the best way to store them! They will stay fresh for up to 2 weeks at 70F. Don’t use the refrigerator either.
- Make sure you have your cookie cutters before you start. I like the Wilton brand a lot, but Sur la Table has not steered me wrong either. Make sure you get the metal ones because they have the cleanest cuts.
- Lastly, even if you don’t have time to decorate these cookies, they are delicious on their own.