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Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

Tabitha Helms

Growing up one of my favorite things to do was decorate sugar cookies cut in festive shapes for each different holidays. Pumpkins, shamrocks, hearts, Christmas trees, etc. I haven’t done it in a while apart from Christmas but was in the mood to let my creative juices flow for Valentines Day this year. I tried a sugar cookie recipe from Martha Stewart and attempted to use royal icing with “flooding” techniques. It was so fun! I felt so creative and actually didn’t mind cleaning up the ridiculous mess I created for myself.


* 2 cups all-purpose flour

* 1/4 teaspoon salt

* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

* 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

* 1 cup sugar

* 1 large egg, lightly beaten

* 2 tablespoons brandy, or milk

* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

* Royal Icing for Sugar Cookies, optional (1 box of powdered sugar, beat in 2 egg whites, add 1/8 cup of water.)


1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, brandy (or milk), and vanilla; mix until incorporated.

2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.

4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

5. Decorate with Royal Icing, optional. The Icing listed under ingredients is for the outlining of each cookie. To fill the cookie and flood the center, add more water–1/4 cup or so, then drizzle in center with spoon. Tip the cookie or use the spoon to make the wetter icing reach the edges. To do a swirl, drizzle some more of the wet icing, dyed with food coloring on top of the already flooded cookie. Use a toothpick and move around in the wet icing on the cookie to create the swirls.

Making a mess in the kitchen

Sprinkle Cookies

Frosted Cookies

Swirled Frosting