Thursday, April 1, 2010

Bake and Share: Sugar Cookies

This recipe is from Martha Stewart. Sugar cookies are perfect for anytime of year. Flowers and butterflies for spring, beach balls and flags for summer, leaves and pumpkins for fall. Beautifully decorated cookies make wonderful party gifts for birthday parties or showers, and are a great way to tie into a theme.

You can also divide the dough and freeze portions for up to three months. That way you can always be ready to enjoy a fresh batch with out all of the work.

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
Using an electric mixer combine butter and sugar, beat until fluffy.
Beat in eggs.
Add flour mixture on low speed.
Stir in vanilla.

Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 325˚ F.
On floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 inch thick and cut shapes.
Place on ungreased baking sheets.
Refrigerate for 15 minutes.
Bake for 8-10 minutes.

It’s time consuming to chill the cookies before baking, but it helps the cookies maintain their shape and still stay soft. Cool before decorating with royal icing.

1 pound confectioners’ sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder
Scant 1/2 cup water

Combine all ingredients and mix on low for 7 minutes.
If too thick, add water. If too thin, beat for another 2-3 minutes
For a Martha Stewart how to video on making and decorating with royal icing click here.

If decorating with kids, gauge their age with the style of decorating. For real young kids sprinkle with colored sugar just before baking or make icing a little thinner and have them dip the tops of the cookies into the icing. Older kids can decorate by piping the icing. Squeezable containers make it easy. 

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