What is your favorite holiday tradition? For me, it’s always been my family’s annual Christmas Cookie Bake. Year after year, we all get together to cook and decorate our favorite cookies. Although I hate baking (hate is a strong word, but I really don’t like it), the best part has always been decorating those classic sugar cookies. I look at an unfrosted cookie the way that a painter gazes upon a blank canvas before turning into a beautiful masterpiece. It’s the perfect, and most delicious, way to express your creativity.
This year, I decided to put a little TV-twist on my cookie decorations. Instead of opting for the classic reindeer, Santa, snowflake, tree and every other cliché cookie design in the book, I felt inspired by some of my favorite cartoon characters. I will admit that I was pretty weary about what the final product would look like since this way my first time using royal icing (more on that to come) to decorate cookies, but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how cute they turned out.
We all know the holidays can be a stressful time — Whether your freaking out about what to get everyone on your list, dreading the awkward small talk with your distant relatives or running around the kitchen like a maniac trying to prepare all of the food for you guests chances are that you’ll want a drink to help keep you calm. Not to worry, I’ve got that covered too!
Check out the gallery below to see the recipes featured in this post:
SUGAR COOKIE DOUGH
- 1 1/2 cups Butter
- 2 cups Sugar
- 4 Eggs
- 1 tsp. Vanilla
- 5 cups Flour
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs and vanilla, then slowly stir in the flour, baking powder and salt. Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour (or overnight).
- Roll out dough on floured surface and cut into desired cookie shape. Place cookies 1 inch apart on an ungreased sheet and bake them for 6-8 minutes in a 400° oven. Allow cookies to cool completely before decorating.
Don’t worry Homer, here’s what you have to do…
The first thing you’ll need to do to prepare for the big cookie bake is make your dough. You will have to chill it for at least one hour, but it can also be left overnight if you’re one of those people that likes to plan ahead. Start by mixing the butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Once the mixture is smooth and creamy, add the eggs and vanilla and beat for 1 minute or so. Slowly, you’ll want to add the remaining dry ingredients until your dough has stiffened.
When you’re ready to get to work, after your dough has chilled, thinly roll it out on a floured surface. I recently purchased this set of 101 cookie cutters, and I’m so glad that I did! With all of those shapes to choose from, my possibilities were endless. I knew that I had planned to decorate my cookies like the characters from some of my favorite cartoons, so admittedly I did end up using a lot of basic shapes like squares and circles. The star and rabbit shapes, however, came in handy when it came to my Patrick (SpongeBob) and Louise (Bob’s Burgers) cookies though! I also threw a few classic holiday cut outs into the mix as well, because of course I couldn’t resist.
Since these cookies are so thin, they tend to cook pretty quickly. Each batch only has to be in the oven (400°) for about 6-8 minutes. Make sure that you let the cookies cool completely before you begin any part of the decorating process.
- 1 bag Confectioner’s Sugar
- 1/3 cup Meringue powder
- 3/4 cups Water
- 2 Tbsp Vanilla
- Combine sugar and meringue powder in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add the wet ingredients while mixing and beat on high speed for about 7-10 minutes.
- Use thicker icing to outline cookies. Add water to icing to create a flooding consistency to fill them in.
Yes you do…
While your cookies are cooling it is the perfect time to start prepping your royal icing. Just like the dough, this icing can be made in advance and stored until you’re ready to use it if you like to come prepared. Keep in mind that this icing is just a base, so you’re free to add in any flavors or colors that you’d like! First, you’ll want to mix the dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Slowly add in the water and vanilla, and continue beating the frosting for about 10 minutes (or until it forms peaks).
As I mentioned, this was the first time that I’ve used the royal icing method of decorating. Before you get started, I’d suggest giving this walkthrough a quick read. Overall I would say that it was a pretty easy process, but if you’re a perfectionist like I am the whole thing can be a bit tedious. However, if you have the right tools you’ll be just fine. At the bare minimum, this is what you’ll need:
- Piping bags and tips
- A squeeze bottle
- Tooth picks
- Food dye
- Extra bowls (for mixing)
- Sprinkles (optional)
First, you’ll want to fill a piping bag with thicker icing for outlining. The consistency for this icing should be similar to that of toothpaste. Once you’ve outlined each cookie, let the icing harden completely (this serves as a barrier when you start flooding them in the next step).
Next, thin out some of the icing by adding 1 teaspoon of water at a time until it resembles the consistency of shampoo. Add the thinned out icing to your squeeze bottle and use that to fill each cookie. A little bit of icing goes a long way here, so be careful not to overdo it or else your icing might overflow past the outlines. Toothpicks are super helpful when it comes to spreading the icing across each cookie.
This is where you get to have fun with it! Play around with different color combinations — You can mix wet frostings together to create a smooth design, or create texture by adding different layers of icing. If you want to take your cookies to the next level by choosing this route, make sure that you let the base dry completely first (let your cookies sit for a few hours, or even overnight).
- 2 oz. Whiskey
- 1 cup Eggnog
- 2-3 scoops Vanilla Ice Cream
Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with whipped cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and/or other holiday spices.
Finally, your cookies are done. If you’re anything like me, you’ll certainly want a drink to help yourself unwind after another exhausting cookie bake. Nothing goes better with cookies than milk, and one of the best things you can do with milk is make a shake. In honor of the holiday season, I figured the best kind of milkshake to make would be an eggnog one.
Actually Linda, the classic eggnog recipe calls for bourbon. Since I had a bottle of Jim Beam Bourbon Whiskey on hand, I decided to use that in my shakes. I’m not a whiskey fan though, so if you aren’t either I’d suggest substituting spiced rum instead. Mix your booze of choice, vanilla ice cream and eggnog together in a blender. If you’re feeling extra festive, top your shake off with some whipped cream, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Now you may have made it through the annual cookie bake, but can you handle the holidays with your family? Grab a drink at your next get-together and follow the rules below to ensure that you have a good time this year!
And with that, I’ll leave you all with these word’s of wisdom from Mr. Hanky, The Christmas Poo… Happy holidays everybody!