Seattle Space Needle Cookie Decorating Class
Thank you all for your support with the 8th graders' fundraiser for their trip to Seattle in the spring. I hope your children had a great time at the class. I had a blast showing them how to decorate and watching their faces when they saw the buttercream mixture transform from butter chunks and powdered sugar into a creamy velvety frosting. Here are the recipes for the class in case you would like to use them in the future. Thank you again for your support!
2 cups Sweet Cream Salted Butter (softened)
2 cups Granulated Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2 tablespoons Vanilla Extract
4 teaspoons Baking Powder
6 cups All-Purpose Flour
Step 1: Add the 4 sticks (2 cups) of butter and 2 cups of white sugar to your mixer. If you do not have salted butter, you can add 2 tsp of salt to the butter. The butter needs to be softened but still cold. A prime culprit for dry sugar cookie dough is butter than is too warm and soft. I let the butter sit out on the counter for just under an hour before I start making the cookies – this seems to be the perfect amount of time for me. The butter is still cold to the touch but you can press into the stick with your fingers. In the past, when in a rush, I have softened the butter in the microwave but inevitably the dough that I get is on the “crumbly” side.
Step 2: Cream the butter and sugar until it is completely mixed (3 minutes on medium-high should do the trick.)
Step 3: Add 2 tablespoons of vanilla and 2 eggs. I know that sounds like a lot of vanilla but this recipe needs a little extra moisture and the cookies will taste great.
Step 4: Mix the eggs and butter until light and fluffy (about 3 more minutes.) Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl to evenly incorporate everything.
Step 5: Add 4 teaspoons of Baking Powder and mix.
Step 6: Mix in the 6 cups of flour, two cups at a time. Don’t over mix the dough when you are adding the dry ingredients. Mix it only until the flour is incorporated into the dough.
Step 7: This is what the dough should look like after you have added the 6 cups of Flour. The flour should be completely incorporated and the dough should be firm but not dry or crumbly. If the dough seems drier than this, add a tiny bit of vanilla or milk (start with a teaspoon) and mix again. You do not need to chill this dough before cutting out the cookies. In fact, the cookies come out best if the dough hasn’t been chilled.
Step 8: Roll a handful of the dough out on a prepared surface until it’s about 3/8″ thick.
Step 9: Cut out shapes with cookie cutters.
Step 10: Bake in an oven pre-heated to 350 degrees for 6-11 minutes depending on the size of the cookie cutter you used.
Step 11: Do not over-bake. If you make your cookies on the thicker side, you should cook them 9-11 minutes. They might not look done to you but they are. Take them out of the oven. You don’t want them to start browning around the edges the way a Chocolate Chip Cookie would, for example. The cookies should be set and just bet starting to slightly brown around the edges. Over-baking is the prime culprit if you feel your sugar cookies seem dry. If you roll out thinner cookies, or use smaller cookie cutters than the ones we have used here, you should only bake the cookies 6 or 7 minutes.
1 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened
2-3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
1-2 teaspoons salt
1 pound Powdered Sugar (or 4 cups)
1-2 tablespoons Milk (as needed)
Add all of the ingredients to your mixer and incorporate with the paddle attachment. Start off slow, do not turn the mixer on high, the powdered sugar will go all over the place. Just pulse the mixture until it starts to come together, then you can turn on a medium speed and then bump it up to high at the end. Depending on your tastes you may like more or less vanilla and salt. Start with 1 teaspoon of each and when it begins to mix together you can turn off the mixer and taste. Mix in more salt and/or vanilla if needed. Once you have a flavor that you like turn the mixer on a low speed and drizzle in a little milk. This will lighten the buttercream slightly. Once the milk has been incorporated, turn the mixer on high until the frosting becomes light and fluffy. Enjoy.
ROYAL ICING WITH EGG WHITES
3 large eggs
4 cups confectioners' sugar (one 1-pound box), sifted
1 T lemon juice
Beat Egg Whites
Place egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat using the whisk attachment until frothy.
2. Add sugar and beat:
Add 1/4 cup of the sugar and mix well. Gradually add the remaining 3 3/4 cups sugar, beating on low speed and scraping down the sides.
Add the sugar slowly. Incorporating a little bit at a time will keep the icing smooth.
3. Finish mixing until thick:
Increase the speed to high and continue to beat the mixture until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. At this stage, the icing will be very thick.
4. Add water:
Add water, a few drops at a time, to thin it to the consistency appropriate for the kind of decorating you are doing. As a rule, the icing should be stiffer for lettering, more malleable for making petals—but you will need to experiment to find the consistency that works best for you.
If adding food coloring to your royal icing, always keep some plain white icing as a reference. The food coloring will change the consistency of the icing a bit, so you can always look to the plain icing as a reference for consistency.
Is it safe to eat the raw egg whites in royal icing?
While the risk is very minimal, there is always a possibility that eating raw egg products can cause food-borne illnesses. Try meringue powder if you prefer:
ROYAL ICING WITH MERINGUE POWDER
4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
3 Tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
9–10 Tablespoons room temperature water
Pour confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, and 9 Tablespoons of water into a large bowl. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat 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, beat in more water 1 Tablespoon at a time. I usually need 10 Tablespoons but on particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons. Keep in mind that the longer you beat the royal icing, the thicker it becomes. If your royal icing is too thin, just keep beating it to introduce more air OR you can add more sifted confectioners’ sugar.