Here is another way to decorate my favorite sugar cookies. With yet another blizzard raging outside at the moment, it only seems fitting to put our minds and rolling pins to pretty colorful spring-like confections. I served these particular little cuties just last weekend as favors at Kate’s 6th birthday party.
This is such a useful cookie recipe to keep in your repertoire. After you have prepared and chilled the dough, you can cut and freeze the cookies for up to 1 month, baking them from frozen, or bake them first and then freeze them, again for about the same amount of time.
Although I regularly decorate my cutout cookies with colorful royal icing, I have become quite a fan of rolled fondant. The varieties on the shelves these days in craft and specialty baking stores are better than ever—smooth, easy to work with, and available in a wide variety of colors. Of course, you can simply tint plain white fondant, too, using food color paste.
To adhere cutout fondant pieces to the cookies, brush lightly with water or a combination of water and light corn syrup and press gently onto the cookies. If you wish to do so, you can also go a bit further as I have done here, and add additional elements such as royal icing letters, dots, and flowers.
These cookies will keep fresh in airtight bags at room temperature for up to two weeks.
About 30 three-inch cookies
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of baking powder
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Royal icing flowers (available in craft stores or prepare your own)
Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl.
Put the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and begin beating on medium speed. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Drop in the egg and add the vanilla and mix just until incorporated. Gradually spoon in the flour, mixing on medium-low speed, just until the dough comes together.
Transfer the dough to a large sheet of plastic wrap, bring together to form a disc, and wrap well. Set in the refrigerator to chill and rest, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Using about half of the dough at a time, roll on a lightly floured work surface to about ¼ inch thick. Cut into desired shapes and arrange about 1 ½ inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Set in the refrigerator to chill until firm, at least 20 minutes. (The cutouts can also be arranged on a plastic wrap-lined board or baking sheet, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and frozen for up to 1 month. When ready to bake, arrange the frozen cutouts on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake as directed below.)
Bake the cookies (depending on the size) until light golden brown and fragrant, about 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool on the baking sheets for several minutes before transferring them to the racks to cool completely.
To make the fondant cutouts, line a flat board or baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly dust a flat work surface with confectioners’ sugar. Using about a palm-size piece of fondant at a time, roll to about 1/16 inch thick. Cut out desired shapes (I use the same size cutter I use for the cookies) and set on the prepared board or baking sheet. You can use them immediately or when they’ve dried a bit. I suggest not waiting too long, though, as it is more challenging to adhere firm fondant to the cookies than when it is pliable.
Decorate further with royal icing and icing flowers, if desired, and set to dry for at least 4 hours or overnight.