{bake} sugar cookies with royal icing

I always think that sugar cookies with royal icing are the ultimate Christmas cookie.  They are fun to make, festive, and beautiful.  Again, I use Martha’s recipes (because she’s the best)!

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Directions:

  • Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.
  • Put butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in eggs and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Divide dough into quarters; flatten each quarter into a disk. Wrap each in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour or overnight.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in upper and lower thirds. Let one disk of dough stand at room temperature just until soft enough to roll, about 10 minutes. Roll out dough between two pieces of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness. Remove top layer of plastic wrap. Cut out cookies with a 4-to-5-inch cookie cutter. Transfer cookie dough on plastic wrap to a baking sheet. Transfer baking sheet to freezer, and freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes. Remove baking sheet from freezer, and transfer shapes to baking sheets lined with nonstick baking mats. Roll out scraps, and repeat. Repeat with remaining disk of dough.
  • Bake, switching positions of sheets and rotating halfway through, until edges turn golden, 15 to 18 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks.
  • Read more at Marthastewart.com: Sugar Cookie Cutouts – Martha Stewart Recipes

    Royal Icing

    Ingredients:

  • 1 pound confectioners’ sugar, plus more if needed
  • 1/3 cup water, plus more if needed
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon meringue powder
  • Directions:

  • Beat sugar, water, and meringue powder with a mixer on low speed until smooth, about 7 minutes. Icing should be the consistency of glue. (If icing is too thick, mix in a little more water. If icing is too thin, add more sugar.)
  • Beat in food coloring, 1 drop at a time, until desired color is achieved. If making more than 1 color, divide icing and work in batches.
  • Read more at Marthastewart.com: Royal Icing – Martha Stewart Recipes

    I double the icing recipe for the sugar cookie recipe.  Also, make your icing the consistency of glue, it should be sort of shiny and thick.  I use squeeze bottles to decorate the cookies, and I think that works really well.  4 colors, 1 in each bottle.  Then I add colored sugar and pearls.  Decorated cookies can be stored in an air-tight container for about a week.

    Merry, merry Christmas. xoxo S

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    December 23, 2010. bake. 1 comment.

    {bake} chocolate peppermint cookies

    Another Martha recipe – these are one of my favorites.  A thin chocolate-mint cookie dipped in white chocolate and topped with peppermint candy.  YUM.  This recipe calls for using the crushed candy and the dust sifted from the crushed candy, but I just use the dust.  I store these cookies in the fridge and I find that the crushed candy gets chewy.

    Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
  • 8 large candy canes or 30 peppermint candies, crushed
  • 2 pounds white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Beat butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Reduce speed to medium-low, and add egg, then yolk, beating well after each addition. Beat in peppermint extract. Slowly add flour mixture, and beat until just incorporated. Shape dough into 2 disks, wrap each in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour (or up to 2 days).
  • Roll out 1 disk of dough on a lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thickness. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Using a 2-inch round cutter, cut out circles, and place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Roll and cut scraps once. Freeze cookies until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining disk.
  • Bake until cookies are dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Transfer parchment, with cookies, to wire racks, and let cool. (Undecorated cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.)
  • Sift crushed candy, and separate larger pieces from dust, reserving both. Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of gently simmering water. Remove from heat. Dunk cookies into melted chocolate. Using a fork, turn to coat, let excess drip off, and gently scrape bottom against edge of bowl. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, and sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of either candy pieces or dust on top. Repeat, sprinkling half the cookies with pieces and the rest with dust. Refrigerate until set, up to 3 hours. Decorated cookies are best served the same day (says Martha, but I store these decorated in the fridge for a week).
  • Read more at Marthastewart.com: Chocolate-Peppermint Cookies – Martha Stewart Recipes

    December 22, 2010. bake. 2 comments.

    {bake} cranberry pistachio biscotti

    I make this cranberry pistachio biscotti every year for Christmas.  I love how it isn’t super sweet, which makes it a nice antidote to some of the other iced and sugard Christmas cookies.  Plus, you can eat biscotti for breakfast and not feel guilty. 😉

    I use this Holiday Biscotti recipe by Giada De Laurentis.  She dips them in white chocolate, but I leave them plain, the way a good biscotti should be.

    Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried cranberries
  • Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

    Line a heavy large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat the sugar, butter, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl to blend. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time. Add the flour mixture and beat just until blended. Stir in the pistachios and cranberries.

     Form the dough into a 13-inch long, 3-inch wide log on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until light golden, about 40 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes.

    Place the log on the cutting board. Using a sharp serrated knife (A VERY SHARP KNIFE IS KEY), cut the log on a diagonal into 1/2 to 3/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake the biscotti until they are pale golden, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a rack and cool completely.

    The biscotti can be made ahead. Store them in an airtight container up to 4 days, or wrap them in foil and freeze in resealable plastic bags up to 3 weeks.

    December 16, 2010. bake. Leave a comment.

    {bake} lemon pistachio wreaths

    These lemon pistachio wreaths are some of the most delicious and lovely Christmas cookies.  I adore pistachio anything, so these are one of my favorites.

    You know I am a huge Martha fan in general, but I have to say that her Christmas cookie recipes are some of the best.  They always look great and taste even better.

    Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour,plus more for work surface
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 5 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest, plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled unsalted pistachios, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • Directions:

  • Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Put butter and granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy. Mix in yolks, lemon zest, and vanilla. Reduce speed to low, and gradually mix in flour mixture. Shape into a disk; wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 350. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to a generous 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2 1/2-inch round fluted cutter, cut out wreaths. Reroll scraps, and cut out. Cut out centers of wreaths using a 7/8-inch round cutter. Space 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Bake until just golden, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely on wire racks.
  • Stir together confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl (I added a few tablespoons of water as well – just until it was glaze consistency). Dip surface of each cookie in icing, and sprinkle with pistachios. Let set on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 1 week. (I freeze them for several weeks in a plastic container and they keep very well).
  • Read more at Marthastewart.com: Lemon-Pistachio Wreaths – Martha Stewart Recipes.

    YUM!

    December 15, 2010. bake. 1 comment.

    {bake} super chunky christmas cookies

    Have you started baking for Christmas yet?  My mom is a super baker.  She makes more than a dozen different types of Christmas cookies, each more delicious than the next.  So, needless to say, for me, it doesn’t feel like Christmas unless there are lots of cookies baking in the oven!  I think I will make 5 varieties of cookies this year.  I actually already have 3 types in the freezer!  This first recipe for super chunky Christmas cookies is adapted from a Food Network recipe.  These cookies are chocolatey, delicious, quick, and easy.

    Ingredients:

    • 1  1/4 cups sugar
    • 1 stick butter
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
    • 1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 3/4 tsp salt
    • 1 cup shredded coconut
    • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
    • 1 cup white chocolate chunks
    • 1/2 cup chopped cashews
    • 3/4 cup red and gree m&ms

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Mix flour, cocoa powder, and salt together in medium size bowl.  Set aside.  Beat sugar and butter in stand mixer until fluffy.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  Slowly incorprate the flour mixture until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips, white chocolate chunks, coconut, cashews, and m&ms.

    Scoop tablespoonfuls on dough onto lined baking sheets.  (These cookies don’t spread much, so you can put them close together)  Bake until set, about 12 minutes.

    Makes about 45 cookies.  Once cooled, these freeze really well in a plastic container.

    December 14, 2010. bake. Leave a comment.

    {bake} apple pie

    So, the man at Williams-Sonoma was right, this pie plate really did make a huge difference.  My apple pie was fantastic!

    I used the recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cooking School (which, btw, is the best cookbook for learning all the basics).  Her crust is perfection.

    YUM.

    December 1, 2010. bake. Leave a comment.

    {bake} pumpkin pie

    My dad is visiting us for a couple days, and since he is a huge pumpkin pie fan (as am I), I decided to try this Martha recipe for Pumpkin Pie with Press-In Shortbread Crust.  It was delicious!  We all liked the contrast of the crunchy, slightly salty shortbread to the creamy pumpkin filling. The recipe is really easy too. Definitely a must try!

    Makes one 9-inch pie.

    CRUST:

    • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1 large egg yolk
    • 1 cup all-purpose flour
    • 1 teaspoon coarse salt

    Directions

    1. Stir together butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in yolk. Add flour and salt, and stir until mixture is dry and crumbly. Press dough into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie dish. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Bake, rotating halfway through, just until crust turns golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes. Let cool in dish on a wire rack.
    3. Make filling.

    FILLING:

    • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • Press-In Shortbread Pie Crust
    • Whipped cream, for serving (optional)

    Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk together pumpkin, heavy cream, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and eggs in a large bowl. Pour filling into prepared piecrust.
    2. Place dish on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, rotating halfway through, until filling is just set and slightly puffed but still a bit wobbly, 65 to 70 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool completely. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 6 hours. (Pie can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.) Serve chilled, topped with whipped cream if desired.

    YUM.

    October 20, 2010. bake. 1 comment.