This year, we had a small turn out, but I think fun was still had.
Here are the rules for my cookie exchange:
1. Cookies only! (no bars, rolls, brownies, etc.)
2. Bake 3 dozen.
3. Make them festive.
5. Send me the recipe or print out copies yourself.
4. Come hungry.
The rules are simple... but there are a few guests that never get it right. Ha ha. They end up bringing two types of cookies, or doughnuts. I was actually happy about the doughnuts, though. Super good! A cookie exchange is a great way to celebrate the season with those that we love. I hope that you get to attend one this year.
I decided to try a new recipe this year, that had two parts. One part was the dough and the other part was the icing. I have always wanted to try out royal icing, but felt a bit intimidated by it and put it off. This year, I decided, 'why not?!' I had some issues, but worked them out in time to have 3 dozen decent looking cookies. I learned that your barrier of icing should be dry before you flood the center with icing. What I like about the royal icing, is that you can dye it any old color that you would like and once you get a steady hand, it seems pretty easy to get cookies that will catch the eye. I suggest that you use gel color, instead of liquid. You do not want to thin out your icing until the 'flood' stage. Life is about taking chances, so if you are a little iffy about the royal icing, like I was... JUST DO IT!
The finished product.
I suggest you make a few extra cookies that you can practice on... unless you also want to channel your inner Salvador Dali, like I did.
Peppermint Sugar Cookies
3 cups unbleached, all purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1.5 inch round cutter (I used a much bigger cookie cutter)
1/2 cup meringue powder
1 scant cup (almost full) water
2 pounds (32 ounces, or 2 boxes) confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon peppermint extract (if desired)
Pink, red or green gel icing color
Small squeeze bottles
Instruction for Cookies
Preheat oven to 350ºF and line baking sheets with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream butter and sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and extracts until combined. Add the flour mixture one cup at a time, mixing on low until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. After the last addition, the dough will look thick and crumbly.
Now, you're ready to roll. Line rolling surface with wax paper. Dust surface and coat your rolling pin with four. Roll a portion of the dough on the flour-coated surface and knead it together until smooth. Roll dough 1/4-inch thick. Dip the round cookie cutter in flour and cut as many circles out of the dough as you can. Remove scrap, re-knead and repeat. Make sure to re-flour the work surface as you go.
Place cookies on prepared cookie sheet. (You can easily lift them, as the dough is sturdy.) You can also roll directly on to parchment paper, remove scraps and transfer the parchment paper to the cookie sheet.
Place cookies in freezer for about 10 minutes. Then bake for 9-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a couple of minutes on the baking tray. Use the cookie cutter to trim cookies to size, if desired. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Instructions for Icing
Mix royal icing in large bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment. Mix together meringue powder, peppermint extract (optional), and water until foamy and combined.
Sift in the confectioners sugar, add the corn syrup and mix on low until incorporated.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for 5 minutes on medium-low, Increase to medium-high and continue beating until icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. Tint a small portion the the royal icing pink. If you like, add a few drops of white gel color to the remaining white icing.
With a squeeze bottle, pipe and outline the cookies in white. Then thin the icing to create a flood consistency. Add a few drop of water at a time to the white icing until it is the consistency of thick syrup. Repeat with pink icing. Use the squeeze bottle to fill the center of the outlined cookie with white flood icing. Pipe dots of pink around the perimeter and use a toothpick to pull the pink toward the cent of the cookie, to create a peppermint design. Repeat with the remaining cookies and let dry for 24 hours. (Note: if the pink icing sits on the surface of the white without sinking in, then thin the icings a bit more.) This recipe is from: Bakerella
**I think it is a good idea to put the perimeter on all cookies first and then go in and fill them with the flood icing about 6 at a time... Add the designs and then repeat. Also, the toothpick is very helpful. I recommend that you not only use it to move the flood icing to the perimeter and to design, but also to pop any bubbles in the flood icing.
I hope you enjoy these cookies! They are fun and festive!