Sigh — even a really cool message-stamping cookie kit can’t hide my icing skills. Thankfully, a sponsor at Camp Blogaway will be the Wilton cake decorating gurus because this shouldn’t happen. So, my Happy Birthday cookies for Larry started out lovely. But my little decorating kit box’s postage date of 1976 from college was a tip-off of my level of ability (yes, smarty pants, I’m older than dirt). I frost cookies like this…
The icing was hardening quickly, and those candies wouldn’t STICK unless I rushed, faster, faster!!! In my defense, last week I was romanced into believing I could whip out artistic beauties having spent a morning decorating hundreds of cookies at charity Project Angel Food. We drizzled and sprinkled; they were professional looking. How could I screw up back at home? Apparently, easily.
Don’t get me wrong – the Sugar Cookie recipe (from the Williams-Sonoma Message-In-A-Cookie cutter kit) is tasty and works beautifully. YES YOU CAN ORDER THAT KIT: here’s the link. Yet, no icing recipe was provided and I won’t recommend what I ended up using. My suggestion is to bookmark my page here and hope a conscientious reader (you?) will comment with a link to the perfect piping icing for Larry’s Birthday Cookies next year. This batch, he ate several, as did I.
Williams-Sonoma Sugar Cookies
2 1/2 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 12 Tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks/185g) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup (250g) sugar
- Food coloring gel (optional)
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Over a small bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on high speed for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, slowly add the sugar and a few drops of food coloring gel and beat for 2 minutes, stopping the mixture occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, stopping the mixer once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed. Add the remaining flour and continue beating until all of the flour has been absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.
Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 equal balls, Shape each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 2 days. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 3/16 to 1/4 inch (4.5 to 6mm).
Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
Dip cookie cutters into flour just before using and cut out shapes. Place on the baking sheet. Gather up the scraps, reroll them and cut out additional cookies. Refrigerate the cookies until firm 20 to 30 minutes.
Bake the cookies until golden brown around the edges, 12 to 15 minutes (however, my cookies in the photo took 18 minutes). If baking more than one sheet at a time, switch the sheets between the racks and rotate them 180 degrees halfway through baking.
Transfer the parchment sheets with cookies onto wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies directly onto the racks and let cool completely. Decorate better than Patti did. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 12 to 15 cookies (Patti’s batch made 19 cookies).