The last several years, I’d try a different recipe for sugar cookies for decorating. And now, I have finally found the perfect one!
Take Me to Recipe Please!Jeff and I announced Joy’s impending arrival on Christmas Morning 2014. From that day forward, I couldn’t WAIT to do all the Christmas activities with her; from baking, to crafting, to binge watching holiday movies― we were going to do it ALL.
Funny how things ACTUALLY shape up. 2017’s Christmas activities were a NIGHTMARE. I was quite pregnant―baby Jay arrived just 4 days after Christmas, and Joy was less than cooperative. All that aside, I still did a poor job managing my expectations.
Making sugar cookies for decorating with royal icing was NOT a good idea. At least not for an 18 month old. I also tried to do everything in one day, and by the time we were ready to decorate, I was exhausted.
Tips for successful cookie decorating:
Here are my tips for a successful cookie decorating experience with your little ones.
- Make the dough, roll it out, cut the shapes, and bake them one afternoon. Put them away. The following day, decorate the cookies. It prolongs the fun and prevents fatigue and impatient melt downs.
2. Prep the kitchen before you invite the kids in. It’s much easier to dye icing, arrange sprinkles, and set aside trays for finished cookies without an audience.
3. I went to the dollar store for disposable muffin tins and used those to sort sprinkles. It became more of a sensory activity when she could feel the different sizes, shapes, and textures of the sprinkles.
4. My last tip might be a little controversial but here it is: CONSIDER purchasing a can of frosting. Yes, I know how to make frosting but that’s an additional step, and I just didn’t feel like it.
Hear me out… My daughter’s attention span is short these days. As fun as it would be to utilize piping bags filled with fun- colored frosting, and artfully decorate homemade sugar cookies, it’s just not practical.
I used a can of frosting, divided it into 2, colored one half red, and the other half green and that’s what we used. I purchased an array of fun holiday sprinkles and we actually enjoyed the experience. Her cookies were for her consumption only― the number of times she licked her fingers while decorating was alarming. I let her spread the frosting on with a plastic knife, and use ALL the sprinkles.
My criteria for cut-out sugar cookies:
- The dough needs to be easy to roll out.
- The dough needs to hold it’s shape in the oven. I don’t want them to melt into a blob!
- It needs to be tasty! I want it to be sweet but not too sweet that it becomes overwhelming when topped with icing.
This recipe satisfies ALL three of my criteria.
Finally… the Sugar Cookie recipe
Fail Proof Sugar Cookies for Decorating
Yield 24-36 cut-out cookies
Delicious, buttery, and smooth cut-out sugar cookies perfect for your favorite holiday cookie cutters and adornments. They always hold their shape and stand up well to ALL the frosting and sprinkles!
- 3 C Flour + more for flouring your surface
- 1-1/4 C Sugar
- 1 C unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
- 1/4 C Cream Cheese, Softened
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp almond extract (optional)
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Cream together the butter, cream cheese, and sugar till a smooth, pale mixture.
- Add the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract; mix till well combined.
- In a separate bowl, add the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cornstarch. Stir to combine.
- Add the dry ingredients into the butter mixture in batches. Stir slowly till barely combined.
- Sprinkle a little flour a clean surface and dump out the dough.* Roll till 1/4-1/3 inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut desired shapes and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- [OPTIONAL] Place cut-out cookies in the freezer for 10-15 minutes (or the fridge for 1 hour). This will insure they hold their shape best in the oven.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes. The top of the cookies will remain pale while the bottoms will be slightly browned. Remove to a cooling rack till ready to decorate!
* Make sure your rolling surface, rolling pin, and cookie cutters are well floured. If the dough begins to stick, scrape it up, add more flour and start again!
If your dough begins to warm, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate.