December 9, 2010 at 9:29 am , by Amanda Wolfe
I go all out when I decorate sugar cookies (which only happens once a year, precisely because I go all out). Piping cookie after cookie’s worth of intricate patterns feels like a fun art project—and then of course there’s the tasty treat at the end. So I jumped at the chance to make the snowflake sugar cookies from our December issue. (I don’t have any snowflake cookie cutters, so I went with mostly stars as you can see, above.)
The sugar cookies themselves seemed pretty standard (with a little ginger kick — yum). But I’ve never made royal icing with lemon or meringue powder before, so I was eager to see how it would turn out.
I gathered my ingredients to make the dough and then chilled it for a few hours before rolling (which is key). I made a half recipe and needed a bit more liquid to hold the dough together (maybe my eggs were small?) but an extra half-egg did the trick. I recently inherited my mom’s pastry cloth and it makes rolling and cutting out cookies SO much easier. Just a little flour on the cloth and the rolling pin and you’re good to go.
After baking a few batches and letting the cookies cool completely, I made the frosting. The lemon was the only liquid in the icing which gave it a real lemony zing. I don’t have any in-process icing shots because I made a mess. I had blue and white frosting in two different consistencies each (a firmer one for piping and a looser version for flooding) so it was quite a production—and a time-sensitive one at that. My trick with flooding (which is where you pipe around the edge of the cookie and the fill with the looser frosting to give that pretty, smooth look) is to just skip the piping bag and spoon on the filler icing. I end up making a mess either way, and I usually need to smooth some of the frosting into the corners with the back of the spoon so it actually saves a step.
My piping wasn’t the neatest job in the world, but they still made for delicious treats, of course! I liked the ginger and lemon in this recipe because traditional sugar cookies can be a bit bland for my taste and these were a great, flavorful update on the classic.