Classic royal icing is a smooth hard drying icing used for decorating cookies, creating your own edible decorations, and "glueing" decorations together. Flavoring your royal icing with vanilla is nice, but a few drops of flavoring oil takes it to a whole new level. Lemon, peppermint, and butterscotch are my favorites but they are all delicious.
Whip the meringue powder and water on high speed for a long time, several minutes, until it's fluffy and peaks form (use an electric hand beater or the wire whisk attachment on your standing mixer). Gradually add the rest of the ingredients to desired consistency. Store at room temperature in a sealed container for up to a month.
Making royal icing is all about consistency. A good way to test the consistency is to lift your spoon up from the bowl and see how it falls off the spoon.
If you're using your icing to pipe fine details on cookies or create your own icing decorations you want your icing to fall very slowly off the spoon. Once the plop of icing lands the bowl you want it to pretty much keep its shape and not flow back into the rest of the icing. Keep in mind that too stiff royal icing can be hard to squeeze out of a decorating bag.
When making a batch of royal icing for flooding and decorating cookies the icing should cling to the spoon and slowly fall into the bowl. I watch how the icing flows back into itself when dropped from a spoon, as in the photo below. If that curl of icing flows back into itself nicely I know that the icing on my cookies will look nice and smooth without stiff bumps.
Just remember, practice makes perfect!
This is hands down our favorite cutout sugar cookie recipe, and we think it will be yours too! It tastes buttery and delicious, and works well for thin or thickly rolled cookies. Its best feature is that it holds its shape perfectly through baking. Have you ever made cutout cookies and your Christmas tree cookies end up looking like funny clouds because they spread so much during baking? That won’t happen with this recipe.
Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and blend well. Mix in vanilla and flavoring oil. Almond is our go to flavoring oil for this recipe, but we have tried so many and they are all delicious. Mix in flour and salt. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill dough for about 30 minutes. Working with about 1/3 of the batch at a time, briefly knead the chilled dough and roll about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick. Cut out shapes. Bake cut out cookies on parchment lined cookie sheets at 375 for 8-14 minutes, depending on size of cookies. They are done baking when you begin to see the tiniest hint of browning on the edges. Let cool for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Cookies keep nicely in a sealed container for a few days and also can be frozen for later use.
You can also freeze the dough. After mixing, put dough in a freezer safe Ziploc bag and freeze. Thaw overnight or for at least a few hours in the refrigerator before using. If too chilled to handle, let sit at room temperature for about 1/2 hour to 1 hour until it's workable.
When it comes to decorating your perfect cutout sugar cookies the options are endless! Frost your cookies with one of our favorite cookie icing recipes, hard royal icing, soft royal icing, decorator frosting or poured cookie icing. Sprinkle your cookies with colorful sprinkles, did you know we have hundreds to choose from? Accent your pretty cookies with edible glitters and dusts or sugar decorations.
Enjoy sharing your delicious cookies with friends and family, and prepare to share the recipe over and over. They are sure to ask!