Lately I have seen so many posts on super creative holiday cookie decorating ideas, and wanted to challenge myself to come up with something different, festive and fun to do.
A few years back I began hand painting on cakes and decided to transform that technique onto these oversized fondant covered sugar cookies. I loved the idea of taking a dozen cookies and decorating each one individually to represent the Twelve Days of Christmas.
2 and 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on high speed until completely smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract (if using) and beat on high speed until combined, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl and beat again as needed to combine.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix on low until combined. Dough will be relatively soft. If the dough seems too soft and sticky for rolling, add 1 more Tablespoon of flour
Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Place each portion onto a piece of lightly floured parchment paper or a lightly floured silicone baking mat.
With a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thickness. Use more flour if the dough seems too sticky. The rolled-out dough can be any shape, as long as it is evenly 1/4-inch thick.
Lightly dust one of the rolled-out doughs with flour. Place a piece of parchment on top. (This prevents sticking.) Place the 2nd rolled-out dough on top. Cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, then refrigerate for at least 1-2 hours and up to 2 days.
Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Carefully remove the top dough piece from the refrigerator.
Using a 31/2" round cookie cutter, cut the dough into shapes. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used. Repeat with 2nd piece of dough.
Arrange cookies on baking sheets 3 inches apart. Bake for 11-12 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. If your oven has hot spots, rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time.
Allow cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating.
Note: I Decorate my cooled cookies with white fondant rolled out to 1/4" thickness. I wanted to have the smoothest surface to paint on, but you can certainly use royal icing as well. I painted my designs on dried fondant then attached the painted fondant to the cookie.
ROYAL ICING RECIPE
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 Tablespoons meringue powder
9–10 Tablespoons room temperature water
Optional for decorating: gel food coloring
In a large bowl using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat all of the icing ingredients together on high speed for 1.5 – 2 minutes.
When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 5-10 seconds. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. (On particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons water total.) If it’s too thin, add a little more sifted confectioners’ sugar.
Icing completely dries in about 2 hours at room temperature.
PAINTING YOUR COOKIES:
I use AmeriColor soft gel paste food coloring the same as you would paint with watercolors. I transfer my design carefully onto each cookie then using the gel with Everclear ( grain alcohol ) which can be substituted with clear lemon extract or even water.
Once painted, allow the food gel to dry overnight.