It's almost Halloween! I love fall, but I especially love Halloween- even more so since I've become a mom. I've made Halloween treats for The Cooker Boy's Daycare since his first Halloween. Most of the mom's bring goodie bags with more candy..I take personalized cutout cookies for each of the kids. I love cutout cookies as much as I love Halloween, but I have to say that until this recipe, I've never found one that has been both user-friendly as well as tasty. I lucked out BIG TIME when I found this recipe. I found a blog post at The Way The Cookie Crumbles that took 4 different sugar cookie recipes, made them all at the same time and did a side by side comparison. That, my friends, is commitment! I read the comparisons, and decided to go with the recipe that was declared the blogger's favorite- which happened to be her own standby sugar cookie recipe. I have to say that this recipe is now also my standby sugar cookie recipe. It mixed well, rolled well, cut out well, baked evenly, and tasted great! I made one slight change in that I added an extra egg- when I was mixing the dough it didn't seem to want to bind together. It could be that my measurements were off, so I'll list the original recipe.
This was also my first time using the outline-flood-detail method of decorating the cookies. I've been a sloppy decorator in the past, but have always wanted to have neatly decorated cookies to share. I found a step-by-step tutorial on Brown Eyed Baker that made this process so easy! This was time consuming, but equally as enjoyable and rewarding. I took these cookies to work, and my coworkers loved them. Needless to say, I can't wait to make these cookies again for my son's Halloween Party at his Daycare..and maybe for work again if my coworkers are nice!
2 1/2 cups (12 oz) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (7 oz) sugar
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
Combine flour and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and salt with electric mixer on medium speed, mixing until smooth. Add sugar and lemon zest while mixer is running. Continue beating on medium speed until mixture is fluffy. Keep mixer running and add in egg and extracts mixing until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Decrease mixer speed to low, and add in flour slowly and mix until combined.
Using the rubber spatula or your hands, form a ball with the dough. Place on a length of plastic wrap, and press dough into a 1 inch thick disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator. Refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
When ready to roll out dough, preheat oven to 375, and prepare baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick spray. Remove dough from refrigerator,divide in half, and let one half sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes before rolling out (place the other half back in the refrigerator until 20 minutes before you need it). Lightly flour your work surface, and place half of the dough on the counter. Cover with a piece of plastic wrap, and roll out to 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with a floured cookie cutter, place similarly sized cookies on baking sheets, and bake for 5-9 minutes depending on size of cookies. Don't let the cookies brown on top- pull them out of the oven when the edges begin to brown, and the tops no longer look wet. Reroll the scraps of dough and repeat.
Let cookies rest on baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to cooling racks. Cool completely before decorating.
Royal Icing from Brown Eyed Baker
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons meringue powder
6 tablespoons water
Simple, simple, simple. Dump ingredients into bowl, and mix with electric mixer until the icing loses its shine. About 7 minutes. It will be thick, but if you're doing the outline-flood-detail method, you need it thick to pipe the outlines.
I'm not about to try to recap the excellent tutorial at Brown Eyed Baker on decorating sugar cookies with royal icing. Do yourselves a favor and check it out. There are excellent directions as well as pictures. I'll just post the pictures of some of my finished cookies!
Oh, and The Cooker Boy decided that he needed to be the one to roll and cut the cookies out. I wasn't too keen on that idea. So, I did it while he was napping...and saved him some scraps. I let him roll out the scraps, cut out, and decorate his cookies. Problem solved!