When I was 18 years old I started selling sugar cookies to friends and family in my hometown. It snowballed way faster than I imagined. Before I knew it I had an industrial sized rolling rack in my bedroom and I was baking and decorating cookies every spare second I had while working a part time baking job. This venture only lasted about 2 years. While I loved every second of it, it is extremely hard to profit off individually hand decorated sugar cookies that take days to make without wanting to charge a ridiculous price per dozen. Then of course you factor in the cost of ingredients, packing frill, boxes, stickers, individual bags, etc. Fast forward to today – I get to share all of my recipes, knowledge, and advice to all of you! Please use this Master Guide to create professional Sugar Cookies on your own.
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Sugar Cookie Ingredients
The ingredients for this sugar cookie recipe are super simple. The confectioner’s sugar in this recipe surprises a lot of people. The reason why we use confectioner’s sugar instead of granulated sugar is for texture.
These cookies come out of the oven so soft and tender with just a slight crisp on the bottom. This sugar cookie recipe taste almost resembles a shortbread. It is not overly sweet, but is just sweet enough. And when it’s paired with royal icing, it is a true match made in heaven.
Making The Sugar Cookie Dough
This recipe, while very simple, does require a lot of care and patience. As should all recipes 🙂 After creaming together the butter and sugar, scrape down the sides of the bowl. After adding in the eggs and vanilla, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Before and after adding in the dry ingredients, you guessed it – scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Constantly scraping down the sides of the bowl will ensure an evenly mixed dough. Without taking the time to ensure that the dough is mixing evenly this increases the chances of the cookies spreading in the oven and not holding their shape as well.
Rolling The Dough
I roll out these cookies to 1/4″ thick. This keeps that texture in the middle super soft while the bottom is golden brown. The thickness in these sugar cookies also makes the cookie to royal icing balance just perfect.
I use a guided rolling pin which you can find here. This helps me to roll the dough out perfectly even every time. Rolling out the cookie dough before chilling allows us to cut out the shapes while the dough is very cold. This will help them keep their perfect cut out shape without the dough becoming to soft to work with. To prevent the rolling pin from sticking to the dough while rolling it out, place a piece of parchment on top of the dough.
If you plan to make the sugar cookie dough ahead of time and bake them another day, wrap the rolled out dough with plastic wrap on a cookie sheet. This will prevent the dough from dying out.
Cutting Out Your Shapes
As soon as the dough has chilled in the fridge for at least 1 hour, cut out as many shapes as you can on your rolled out dough. With the leftover scraps of dough, simply ball it up then re-roll it. Repeat this process until all of the dough has been used up and you’ve cut out as many shapes as you can.
If the dough starts to soften a bit from working with it, place them onto the prepared cookie sheet with parchment paper, spaced about 1 1/2″ – 2″ apart so they’re ready to go in the oven, but let them chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes before baking.
Baking The Sugar Cookies
Baking these cookies at 400 degrees also helps contribute to the cookies keeping their shape. They only bake for about 8-9 minutes. For your first time with this recipe, try baking them for 7 minutes, check on the bottoms of the cookies and add time as needed. The bake time also depends on the size and thickness of your cookies. Use your best judgement. The bottoms should be a beautiful shade of golden brown.
I allow the cookies to sit on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes when they’re hot out of the oven before transferring to a cooling rack. They are very hot and breakable when they first come out of the oven so allowing them to sit on the pan just helps them firm up a bit and make it easier to make the transfer.
When it comes to royal icing, the most important detail is in the consistency. As you make this recipe, be sure to add the water in one tablespoon at a time. Allow the mixer to work in the water slowly before adding more. The royal icing should be able to hold its own weight when the paddle is lifted upside down. The royal icing will slowly fold on itself. This consistency is what we call outlining consistency. This will be used to outline the shape of the cookie. To fill the cookie, we will use what’s called a flood consistency. To achieve this, simply add a drop or two of water at a time to the icing to thin it out. This thinner royal icing will be used to fill the cookie inside the outlining consistency lines that we made before.
As soon as you’ve finished mixing the royal icing, be sure to cover the bowl with a damp towel. A dried out royal icing will form a crusty top and we will no longer have a smooth royal icing that’s easy to work with. Even in between mixing colors, keep the bowl covered at all times. In the event that this happens and you aren’t sure how to revive your royal icing, place a very damp rag on top of the bowl and let it sit there for about 30 minutes to one hour. It will add moisture back into the royal icing and disolve the dried out top.
Meringue powder is an extremely important ingredient in this recipe. Meringue powder is dehydrated egg whites that have been ground up into a superfine powder. Traditional royal icing contains pasteurized egg whites. Meringue powder is an easier replacement. Not only does it make the cookies last longer, but allows you to add more details to your cookies once the icing sets. I use Judee’s Meringue Powder. But you can use whichever brand you want.
Mixing Your Colors
Creating all of the colors you need is a bit time consuming but of course, so worth it. For the best results, I use Americolor Food Gel. Depending on the style/ theme of cookies you’re decorating, the quantity of each color will vary. Let’s say you’re decorating St. Patrick’s themed cookies, odds are you’re going to need a lot of green icing. Scoop a couple tablespoons of royal icing into a small separate bowl. Squeeze a few drops of food dye on top and mix until you’ve reached the right shade. Scoop a small amount of this green dyed icing and place it into a piping bag. This will be the outlining consistency. With the remaining green icing, add a couple small drops of water until the consistency is thin and smooth. This will be our flood consistency icing.
With the outlining consistency icing, pipe a border around the perimeter of the cookie. Allow this to set for a few minutes before filling in the cookie. To fill in the cookie, use the flood icing starting on the outside perimeter, within the outline, and work your way inward filling the entire cookie. Allow the flood icing to set for at least one hour or overnight, before adding details on top.
I hope you enjoy this recipe and find all of my advice above helpful throughout the process. As always please tag me in your creations!Yum