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tharrison

Favorite decorating cookie dough recipe?

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I did a few searches trying to find if this had been covered before, but I didn't find anything.

I'm wondering what everyone's favorite sugar/butter/shortbread/etc cookie recipes for decorating (with royal icing) are. Maybe this could end up being another one of the "find the ultimate recipe" threads?

Basically, I'm looking for something that I can roll and cut easily but that also isn't super fragile. I need a recipe that won't crumble or break too easily. Since I'll be taking the time to actually decorate them, the less I lose to breakage the better.

A base recipe would be great. I can play with flavors and random additions later. I have a stack of recipes to try, just figured I'd ask here for a jumping off point since I trust you guys :biggrin: I also don't have enough free time to try out a gazillion different recipes (nor do I want to have to wash the dishes after all that) :raz:

However, taste is paramount. I hate the beautiful decorated cookies that you see all over the place that when you bite into them they either break your teeth, taste horrible, or both.

Right now I'm thinking maybe that I'd prefer on the thin side, buttery, and leaning towards crisp (but not hard), but I'm totally open-minded about it. If it helps everyone to help me pick the best texture, they're going to be served with crème brulée.

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Although somewhat tangential to the topic at hand, I noticed in my baking journal that for Xmas 10 years ago, I had baked about 3 dozen crescent- and star-shaped Chocolate Shortbread cookies – which I gilded by brushing on nontoxic 24-karat gold dust! (I purchased it at an art-supply store; but it may also be available from vendors specializing in cake-decorating supplies.) They looked very striking on red-rimmed platters decorated w/ seasonal motifs.


Edited by Redsugar (log)

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Personally I don't enjoy eating royal icing on anything. I'd rather eat a fondant or a xxxsugar frosting that's tender and flavored. Then I go with a shortbread cookie as my base to counter balance the sweetness of the frosting.

BUT that doesn't really help you.......because what I make is very fragile.

I've made several sugar/butter cookies in search of the perfect cookie to decorate to replace my fragile shortbreads. I agree with Momlovestocook, Martha's cookies are pretty good/one of the best for this purpose that I've found. But I hope to persuede you to not use royal icing, instead use something more edible.

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I took a class with Michelle Bommarito on decorated sugar cookies. Here are her recipes for the cookies and the icing. I've made them many times and never been disappointed.

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 c. granulated sugar

1 egg

1 t. baking powder

1 t. vanilla extract

3 c. all-purpose flour (sifted/fluffed before measuring)

1/2 t. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in the egg and the vanilla extract and continue to beat well.

Combine the baking powder and the flour and slowly add in one cup at a time.

Mix together until just combined.

Form the dough into a flat rectangle and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface to approximately 1/4" thick (slightly thicker if you're going to put the cookies on a stick). Dip the cutters into flour, the cut out the desired shape. Carefully place the cut cookie shape on a sheet pan using a spatula. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Bake the cookies for approximately 8 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown in color.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Royal Icing

1 pound confectioners sugar

5 T meringue powder

Ice cold water according to desired consistency.

The outline icing should be the consistency of peanut butter

The flooding icing should be the consistency of corn syrup.

If in doubt, go thicker.

Use a damp cloth to cover the icing until you're ready.

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Although somewhat tangential to the topic at hand, I noticed in my baking journal that for Xmas 10 years ago, I had baked about 3 dozen crescent- and star-shaped Chocolate Shortbread cookies –  which I gilded by brushing on nontoxic 24-karat gold dust! (I purchased it at an art-supply store; but it may also be available from vendors specializing in cake-decorating supplies.)  They looked very striking on red-rimmed platters decorated w/ seasonal motifs.

Also tangential to subject, but your post, Red, reminded me of the time a few years back (1995) when I too rolled out, cut and baked star and moon sugar cookies, and then hand brushed edible dust on -- gold (for the stars) and silver (for the crescent moons) , for the 150th anniversary of the US Naval Academy celebration for the Pres, VP, Congress, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Astronauts, etc.

Yep, 10,000 of them in a record 2 1/2 days. :wacko:

(I had 3 inexperienced helpers provided to me!)

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But I hope to persuede you to not use royal icing, instead use something more edible.

I'm easily persuadable :biggrin:

To be honest, this is the first time I'll be actually decorating cookies (well, beyond outline-icing gingerbread men with store bought tubes of icing when I was a child). So any advice/tips are greatly appreciated. I really wish that fragility wasn't a big issue because I love shortbread.

Which icing do you recommend I use?

To make this easier, this is what I am going to be icing then using sanding sugar as an accent on. Only difference is that my colors are going to be white, yellow, and green.


Edited by tharrison (log)

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I don't like the way royal tastes either.

I use white chocolate.

For instance, if I'm making, say, Christmas trees, I'll dip them in white chocolate colored

with green food color powder. When they've set (and it doesn't take long), then I pipe on

whatever other decorations I want using different colored white chocolate. My cookies

looked and tasted great......

The only problem with that was that they sold out so fast during the holidays, I couldn't

keep up. I felt like my back was going to break with all those damn cookies. Holiday

cookie decorating nearly killed me.

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I don't have my cookie file at home with me now- I'll post my favorite decorating shortbread recipe tommarrow.

For frosting I don't use a measured out formula, I make it by feel. But even if you've never done this.......its really not hard at all. I start with xxxsugar in my mixing bowl with a paddle attachment. To it, I add flavoring and heavy cream.

Theres a brand of lemon emulsion I like alot (but you can't purchase it retail) because it has a very natural flavor to it verses the harsh lemon extract you find in most grocery store baking isles. If you can purchase lemon or orange oil. If you want a plainer frosting use vanilla extract instead.

I pour in some heavy cream and mix (over my xxxsugar) and continue adding it in small amounts until I have a smooth good consistancy to my frosting. If I accidently add too much cream then I adjust by adding more xxxsugar. I taste it along the way and adjust the amount of flavoring too.

When I use this type of frosting I choose a main color for what I'm going to decorate........sometimes it's just white. I put some of this frosting in a large dish (like a baking pan) so it's about 1" deep with frosting. I then drop/place my entire cookie in the frosting. BUT I only want the top surface of the cookie in contact with the frosting, not the sides and definately you don't want frosting on the back side of the cookie. I lift up my cookie with my left hand and in my right hand I have a metal spatula............as I lift up my cookie the frosting will be smooth across the whole surface of the cookie (much more perfect then spreading it on). Then using my spatula I control the drip/run off of the frosting, and set my cookie down on a tray and let it air dry.

Then I go back and add further details and colors. If your nervous to dip your whole cookie (which is the fastest technique) you can spread on your frosting with the metal cake spatula.

Verses- using royal icing you pipe on a damn then go back and flood it with thinner royal. Yes, this method seems easier but in fact its a much slower process and I can be almost as exact with my technique as anyone can with royal. My dipping way will have a few spots where the edges ran over onto the side of the cookie. But when you add an outline that totally cleans up the look and you don't notice imperfections.

To use purchased fondant I work with it the same way as the xxxsugar icing. I thin it out with plain water instead of heavy cream over a heated water bath, but I still flavor it too taste with the best oil/emulsion/extract I can buy.

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I wanted to add: I really like the place where you've chosen your design/cookie cutter from. If I recall correctly a couple of similar sites actaully have step by step photographed steps on how to make and decorate cookies.

The frosting I suggest in my previous post will crust over when it drys, but it will remain soft underneath. If you use purchased fondant to frost, that will dry firmer similar to royal icing...but it won't crack your teeth to bite into it.

Another point.........you might find it frustrating (if your new to this) to decorate the flower you've chosen because it's a very organic shape to detail. Where as a object with straight lines where your more or less outlining the cookie is easier to produce with good results. Hopefully you have some drawing skills and can follow the petal pattern and detail as shown in the photo.

How and when you add your sanding sugar is important too. (Just incase you don't know this) You first fill and dry you main area........only when it's dry can you go back and outline then sprinkle on your sanding sugar. Otherwise the sanding sugar will stick to any wet surface on your cookie. (This applies to any type of frosting you use)

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wendy, with the heavy cream in the icing, what is the shelf life at room temperature? will the icing spoil or anything? off flavors, etc?

i use the dip-the-whole-cookie method too. i was ecstatic when my current boss showed me that technique. but instead of using the offset spatula to smear off excess icing, we just use our index fingers.

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I've done the heavy cream/flavoring/xxxsugar method too. It's ok and tastes much better than royal, but I don't like it as well as white chocolate because:

*It takes much longer to set, and

*even when it is set, stacking the decorated cookies is still not a good idea, and

*sometimes when you need to use deeper colors, as the cookie sits, color will bleed.

Using white chocolate eliminates all these problems. I used to have to do a LOT of cookies.

Hundreds...thousands. Stacking was necessary and I had to do it fast. The heavy cream thing

wasn't practical for that job at all.

The only drawback to white chocolate? Expensive as an ingredient. But with all the time and

hassle it saved me, I think the bakery owner came out pretty even. Also, with white chocolate

you don't have to worry about shelf life either.

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I've left my decorated cookies out uncovered for 3 or 4 days at the most. Good air flow around your sheet pan is important for even drying when you use darker colors. As I wrote before, they do not dry all the way thru making a hard icing.

White chocolate is a fine alternative provided you don't need a true white. I'm not personally crazy about the taste of coating chocolates which will give you true white. It's not easy to mix certain colors with white chocolate and for limited use it's sort of expensive to buy in seperate oil based colors. Holding your chocolate at a nice piping temp. can be a challenge..........too warm and it runs so fast you can barely control it.

Fondant dried well and lets you stack your cookies ontop of each other.

The bottom line is personal preference combined with cost and convience.

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I don't have my cookie file at home with me now- I'll post my favorite decorating shortbread recipe tommarrow.

Still interested :biggrin:

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This is my favorite cookie to decorate. Eaten with-out the sugar frosting, it's a pretty plain uninteresting cookie. You have to use a good quality emulsion or oil to flavor your frosting.

I've lost track of who published this, I believe it's from Pillsbury.

Shortbread cookie:

2 1/3 c. flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. butter

1/2 c. xxxsugar

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Frosting:

2 c. xxxsugar

4 to 6 tbsp. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. your favorite emulsion (I use lemon)

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Using white chocolate eliminates all these problems. I used to have to do a LOT of cookies.

Hundreds...thousands. Stacking was necessary and I had to do it fast. The heavy cream thing

wasn't practical for that job at all.

The only drawback to white chocolate? Expensive as an ingredient. But with all the time and

hassle it saved me, I think the bakery owner came out pretty even. Also, with white chocolate

you don't have to worry about shelf life either.

What brand of white choc were you using then? As we have all said before, some are very difficult/unpredictable, and I am curious as to what worked so well for you. Thanks!

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What brand of white choc were you using then? As we have all said before, some are very difficult/unpredictable, and I am curious as to what worked so well for you. Thanks!

I think my favorite white for cookie decorating is Felchlin Mont Blanc 31% Rondo. It comes in little "coins" "disks" "pistoles"....whatever you want to call it. Melts nicely....good consistency,

sets fast....great taste.

My favorite all purpose white is Guittard White Satin Ribbon. It's good for cookie decorating too, but is a little viscous, so you need to add a little oil (or cocoa butter) to it to thin it down.

I love the above two chocolates because I know exactly how they will perform for me. There could be better ones out there, but when you're tryin' to get the job done, you kind of stay in your comfort zone if you know what I mean.

White chocolate is a fine alternative provided you don't need a true white.

Boy, lucky for me I've never had any customers fussy enough that they wouldn't buy a ghost cookie at Halloween because it wasn't true white. It's all relative.....white chocolate on a sugar

cookie looks white enough. And used with other colors it's just fine too.

It's not easy to mix certain colors with white chocolate and for limited use it's sort of expensive to buy in seperate oil based colors.

I suppose if white chocolate is something you rarely use, buying in oil based colors would be an unjustified cost. I've had a hard time finding oil based colors actually, so I exclusively use powder. When I have found and used oil based colors I did find that some of them really seized my chocolate to the point where it was almost unpipeable, so one wonders how "oil based" they really were. So I stick with powders.....they don't mess with my consistency and always work.

Holding your chocolate at a nice piping temp. can be a challenge..........too warm and it runs so fast you can barely control it.

With the brands that I've used above (especially the Guittard), if it's too warm, it becomes a burnt seized chunk of unusable formerly white chocolate. :raz: I guess that's another thing

I like about them.....you CAN'T get them too warm and still be able to dip or pipe cookies.

When it's completely melted down, it's the perfect consistency (except of course for the Guittard, where I have to add oil). The chocolate will eventually cool down to the point where ya gotta stick it in the micro and nuke it for a few seconds, but luckily I also work in a hot bakery where it takes a heck of a long time for something to cool down!

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My favorite recipe for decorated cookies is the All-Purpose Holiday Cookies recipe from CI. Easy to work with, hold their cut shape well (they do not puff too much while baking) and taste good enough to eat plain.

Here is the recipe (no weights, so sorry)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at cool room temp.

1 cup superfine sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 whole egg + 1 egg yolk

2 tsp. vanilla

2-1/2 cups bleached all-purpose flour

Cream butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy, add egg yolk, beat, add whole egg & vanilla, beat well. Add flour and beat at low speed just until mixed. Form into 3-4 disks, wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour (or more) or until firm.

Roll chilled dough on lightly floured surface to 1/8-inch thick, cut and bake at 375 for 6-8 minutes or until light golden brown.

Cookies cut from scraps that have been re-rolled more than twice will be tougher, so you might want to save those to use for icing practice and "quality-control testing". :wink:

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My favorite cookie recipe is Martha Stewarts. Also pictured here are CIs Chocolate butter cookies. After they age a day or so they are fantastic. Really addictive. We decorated these with food colored egg yolks. This method is just amazing. The colors are so vivid. You just paint it on before you bake the cookies. They do not fade in the oven. They also do not have the bad taste and texture associated with royal icing.

My sister and I did these on the spur of the moment. They turned out pretty cute though. The kids really enjoyed helping as well.

gallery_32986_2846_332143.jpg

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I use these as sugar cookies. I think they make a really good cookie. However, I roll them pretty thick, so I'm not sure how they are as a thinner cookie. I glaze the entire cookie, which seals them, and have had them sit out for ages with little ill effect. Also, I usually cut fondant and stick them on top - but also know of a "modified royal icing" that a lot of decorators use. It's stackable, but not tooth-chipping. I'll see if I can find that recipe as well.

Cookie:

Cream 1 lb butter with 2 c. sugar. Add 2 eggs, and beat. Add 2 t. vanilla or butavan and mix. Mix in 6 c. flour. Will be slightly crumbly, but will come together when "pushed" together. Bake at 400 degrees F for 6-7 minutes or until just barely browned.

Glaze:

1 c. confectioners sugar, 2-3 T. water, 1 T. light corn syrup, and a few drops of flavor. Mix & brush on.

Modified Royal Icing:

1 lb. confectioners sugar, 3 T. merengue powder, 5-6 T. water, and 1/2 c. butter.

Hope something works for you!

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I like the following cookie recipe, and like it say they are never fail. They hold even intricate cut out shapes and taste nice and buttery.

NO FAIL SUGAR COOKIES

This recipe is GREAT when using complex cookie cutters. The dough holds its' shape and won't spread during baking. Make sure you let your oven preheat for at least 1/2 hour before baking these or any other cookies.

6 cups flour

3 tsp. baking powder

2 cups butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract or desired flavoring (I like almond myself)

1 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla. Mix well. Mix dry ingredients and add a little at a time to butter mixture. Mix until flour is completely incorporated and the dough comes together.

Chill for 1 to 2 hours (or see Hint below)

Roll to desired thickness and cut into desired shapes. Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 350

degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until just beginning to turn brown around the edges. This recipe

can make up to 5-dozen 3” cookies.

HINT: Rolling Out Dough Without the Mess -- Rather than wait for your cookie dough to

chill, take the freshly made dough and place a glob between two sheets of parchment paper.

Roll it out to the desired thickness then place the dough and paper on a cookie sheet and pop

it into the refrigerator. Continue rolling out your dough between sheets of paper until you have

used it all. By the time you are finished, the first batch will be completely chilled and ready to

cut. Reroll leftover dough and repeat the process! An added bonus is that you are not adding

any additional flour to your cookies.

This recipe is from Kitchengifts.com

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So, In my efforts to duplicate the starbucks sugar cookies I came up with this recipe. It makes quite a lot and the dough is pretty tasty too. I had to quadruple the icing recipe though. It's a pourable icing so once you put it on it spreads out a bit. I would say to maybe use this as a base for flavor and the main colors and then use the royal for the design details.

Thick Cut-Outs

Submitted by: Margo

Rated: 4 out of 5 by 31 members Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 10 Minutes Ready In: 1 Hour 20 Minutes

Yields: 75 servings

"A big batch of big thick sugar cookies. These are THE big soft sugar cookies

you have been looking for. Frost them while warm and sprinkle with colored

sugar."

INGREDIENTS:

6 egg yolks

4 eggs

2 cups butter, softened

2 1/8 cups white sugar

7 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in

the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each. Combine flour, baking powder,

and salt; stir into the sugar mixture. Cover dough and chill for at least one

hour.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets. On

a floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thick and cut into desired

shapes using cookie cutters. Place 2 inches apart on to the prepared baking

sheets.

3. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on

baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Pourable Icing

1 bag (2#) powdered sugar

3Tb milk

1/4 c white corn syrup

Use corn syrup to adjust consistency. It will appear very paste like but after you put it on it softenes and spreads out. I advise testing it as you add corn syrup.

This icing will dry to a hard shiny icing.

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I took a class with Michelle Bommarito on decorated sugar cookies.  Here are her recipes for the cookies and the icing.  I've made them many times and never been disappointed.

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 c. granulated sugar

1 egg

1 t. baking powder

1 t. vanilla extract

3 c. all-purpose flour (sifted/fluffed before measuring)

1/2 t. kosher salt

I just made this exact recipe with my daughter Friday. They came out good and my husband asked me how they kept their shape so well. The rise, if any, is unnoticeable. They were soft about an hour out of the oven, then crisp later that day but by the next day they softened a little. I thought they were a good base recipe, but lacked a little in the flavor department and I personally like slightly softer/chewier cookies. My daughter (4yo) just finished off the last one this morning. She loved them. (Maybe that had something to do with them being flower shaped) :biggrin:

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I took a class with Michelle Bommarito on decorated sugar cookies.  Here are her recipes for the cookies and the icing.  I've made them many times and never been disappointed.

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 c. granulated sugar

1 egg

1 t. baking powder

1 t. vanilla extract

3 c. all-purpose flour (sifted/fluffed before measuring)

1/2 t. kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add in the egg and the vanilla extract and continue to beat well.

Combine the baking powder and the flour and slowly add in one cup at a time.

Mix together until just combined.

Form the dough into a flat rectangle and tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Roll the dough onto a lightly floured surface to approximately 1/4" thick (slightly thicker if you're going to put the cookies on a stick). Dip the cutters into flour, the cut out the desired shape. Carefully place the cut cookie shape on a sheet pan using a spatula. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Bake the cookies for approximately 8 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown in color.

Remove the sheet pan from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes.

Royal Icing

1 pound confectioners sugar

5 T meringue powder

Ice cold water according to desired consistency.

The outline icing should be the consistency of peanut butter

The flooding icing should be the consistency of corn syrup.

If in doubt, go thicker.

Use a damp cloth to cover the icing until you're ready.

This sounds like a slightly modified version of a recipe I modified for my use as well and I love it. It is my go to cookie recipe for decorated cookies. I'll have to try the salt addition, sounds good. I use almond extract and vanilla in my version, 1 and 1/2 tsp of each. This recipe is pretty darn good for the cookies on sticks for bouquets too. Roll them about 3/8" for that. :wink:

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My friend used cookie cutters to make sugar cookies and they puffed beyond recognition despite being rolled quite thin.

What would cause this?

?Baking powder in the dough?

Dough not being cold enough when placed in the oven?

Other?

thanks!

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