12.19.2013

Snowman Sugar Cookies



I hate making sugar cookies. Every year, I have these visions of beautiful cookies, decked in colorful icing and sparkly sprinkles. I get all excited and plan what I'm going to do.

And then I start to create my masterpieces and the reality is nothing like the vision, and I get frustrated.  Lines don’t come out straight, I can’t get the icing colors right, and I always underestimate the complexity of the design. 
Eventually, I begin accidentally on purpose cracking cookies, so there’s less to decorate.   Then I swear I’ll never do this again, which is a joke, because (of course) they’re my husband’s favorite. 

So over the years, I have figured out the simplest way to execute these and have them still look good. They’re still a bit of a project, though, and this is a really long post, so consider yourself warned!!

Okay so first, start with the cookies. You can make these ahead of time and freeze them to make your life easier.

Neil's Scalloped Sugar Cookies, from Great Cookies by Carole Walter
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
2/3 cup (1 and 1/3 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and very cold
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 or 2 tsp cold water as needed

Combine flour, sugar, butter in bowl of food processor, fitted with the steel blade. Pulse to combine, then process for approximately 10 seconds, until the mixture is the texture of fine meal (it will look crumbly and not much like dough).

Combine the yolks and vanilla in a bowl, and add to the processor's work bowl. Pulse to combine, and then process for about 10 seconds until a mass forms. If it looks very dry, add a tsp of water. Empty the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a disk. It will seem rather dry and crumbly. Don't worry.

Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 3 days. Dough can be frozen for up to three months.

To bake: Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with foil.

Working with 1/4 of the dough at a time, roll out on floured surface until about 1/4 or 1/8 inch thick. Using your cookie cutters, cut into your desired shapes.

Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are golden brown.

**If you don't plan to decorate these, you can brush with an egg wash and top with sprinkles.

Next up, I use Wilton's royal icing recipe:

Royal Icing, from Wilton
1 1/2 tbsp meringue powder (you can substitute powdered egg whites as well)
2 cups powdered sugar
3 scant tbsp warm water

Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks. This will take 7-10 minutes on a stand mixer, 10-12 on a hand mixer.

To Decorate:
Supplies:
White glitter sprinkles
Holly berry sprinkles
Black food coloring
1 pastry bag fitted with a round tip with a small opening- I usually use a #6
Skinnier black tip
1 pastry bag, fitted with another small round tip (again, #6 for me)
1 black food coloring pen

Dump your white glitter sprinkles out on a plate for dipping. 

Take one third of the icing and tint it black. Add a few drops of water to thin the consistency slightly. It should NOT be too runny, more like sour cream. Add this to the pastry bag fitted with the coupler.

Fill the pastry bag fitted with the TIP and no coupler with 1/3 of the white icing. 

Using the white icing, outline the body of each snowman in white. Leave the hat part alone.  After you pipe, press each snowman into the plate of glittery sprinkles. 

Then, using your black frosting, pipe out the outline of the hat. Fill this completely in with black frosting.  Press holly berry sprinkles in for hat detail. Allow to dry partially. 

Thin the remaining white frosting with more water, until it is pourable. Using a spoon, spread it around the snowman’s body. Let dry.

When dry, use the food coloring pen to draw dots for the snowman’s coal eyes, mouth, and buttons.  If you don’t have a food coloring pen, you can use the black frosting, just transfer it to a new bag and cut a very small hole. Let dry fully overnight, and then store airtight. 

These cookies will keep for about a week.  You can freeze them, fully decorated. Defrost at room temperature, as condensation in the fridge can melt the icing.

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