What could be better than a lovely place card to designate your place at the table this Easter Sunday? Why, a cute and sweet one that you can eat, of course!
Don’t worry, I’m not going to give Betsy her own china place setting.
I’ve made my fair share of sugar cookies but haven’t ever stuck with one recipe. I almost always find myself trying a new one. Not because the others have been bad, but I have an idea in my head of what I want a decorated sugar cookie to look and taste like, and I haven’t yet found it. This one is much closer to what I’ve been looking for. It’s sturdy and thick, it holds up well to rolling, transferring and baking and also has good flavor. Part of that is due to cutting them thicker than I normally do, and part to a new method I tried this time around for cutting the shapes. It’s genius and greatly decreases the floury mess my kitchen becomes when I make cut outs.
Whenever I decide to make these decorated cookies I have the tendency to make too many shapes which means lots more coloring of icing and piping different designs which translates into late nights, a messy kitchen, color dyed fingernails and sore hands. It’s more work than you think on those muscles! Making just a couple different shapes makes life easier and allows you to get really good at decorating that particular shape and design.
I chose eggs (no fancy edges) carrots and bunnies. I kept everything simple since I’d be writing names on the cookies. And I kept the colors muted to not distract from the table or stick out like a sore thumb.
The icing recipe here is the best I’ve tried for these cookies. It takes a while to dry completely, but dries with a nice gloss and isn’t rock hard like royal icing. You can add more powdered sugar to small amount of this icing to make it good for piping.
For rolling these out I used a new method. Instead of chilling the dough and then rolling it out (which can often be difficult when the dough is cold from the fridge) I rolled it out right after mixing in between two pieces of parchment. Then I placed the sheets of dough in the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Then I cut out the shapes, moved them to a parchment lined cookie sheet and baked them. The dough never once touched the counter and I didn’t have to use any flour or get frustrated with a cookie falling apart or sticking to the counter top. This is definitely the method I will be using from now on. Thanks to The Kitchn for introducing me to it!
I used the recipe from The Kitchn for these cookies, just left out the lemon zest and added an extra egg yolk for a sturdier cookie. Since they’re made with all butter, the flavor is still there, but without the super crunchy texture some sugar cookies often have. And to be honest, I prefer that texture if I’m eating the cookies plain or with just a sprinkling of sugar. But when I’m going to be decorating them and giving them as favors or gifts, I want them thicker and therefore not as crunchy. Since the cookies are so thick, I reduced the baking temp to 325 to prevent the bottoms of the cookies from getting too dark before the centers are set. Then I increased the baking time. The baking time with depend on what size and just how thick your cookies are. Mine, which were just about 1/4 inch thick, cooked for almost 15 minutes. They should be just beginning to brown on the edges when you remove them from the oven.
You can find lots of good tips on decorating sugar cookies on the web. But here are some of the cookies I’ve decorated, some with step by step instructions and some without.
And here are the tools I find to be very helpful when making these types of cookies.
- Frosting tips (Wilton plain tips 2 and 3 are the ones I use most, I have a few of each)
- Piping bags
- White-white, it makes white icing solid white instead of semi-translucent and can tone down a color that is too dark
- Gel colors for coloring the icing, it produces the best color
- Toothpicks for coloring icing, pushing icing into small spaces and for popping bubbles that form in the icing as it settles and dries
- Small bowls for coloring small amount of icing
- Small spoons for filling the cookies
- Space to work and a place for cookies to dry away from little hands
Thick Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
Adapted very slightly from TheKitchn
Makes 18-24 thick cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 2 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 cups flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Beat butter, cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
- Add in the egg, egg yolk, and extracts and beat until well combined.
- Add in the flour, salt and baking powder and mix just until combined.
- Prepare 4 sheets of parchment, each about the size you’d use to line a cookie sheet.
- Lay a towel down on the counter, then place one piece of parchment on top. Spoon half of the cookie dough onto the parchment and then lay another piece of parchment on top. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough evenly to the thickness you desire.
- Set the sheet of dough onto a cookie sheet.
- Repeat with the rest of the dough, stacking them on top of each other.
- Place the cookie sheet in the freezer and let them chill for 20-30 minutes. You want the dough to be firm but still be able to cut it with the cookies cutters. If you leave it too long in the freezer, just let it sit for a few minutes before cutting your shapes.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Using your desired cookie cutters, cut your shapes from the dough and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, leaving space between the cookies, 8-12 per sheet depending on the size
- Bake for 10-15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes, until the edges just begin to brown. Let them sit on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before moving to a cooling rack.
- Repeat with the remaining dough. Any dough scraps can be combined and re-rolled, chilled, cut and baked.
- Let cool completely before decorating.