Maple Spice Stars

Maple Spice StarsY’all…are these Maple Spice Stars beautiful or what?! I love all the colors, textures, and dimensions of the finished cookies, not to mention the flavors. With their sweet, spicy crunch and maple glaze, these little stars are as delicious as they are dazzling.

Maple Spice StarsThis dough is a maple spin on my classic gingerbread recipe. The biggest changes I made are that I intensified the ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg flavors, cut the white granulated sugar and, of course, that I swapped the traditional molasses for 2/3 cup of pure maple syrup 🍁🍁🍁 These changes produce a cookie with a “cleaner” spice flavor; unlike molasses, the maple syrup accentuates the spices instead of competing with them.

Maple Spice StarsOnce the maple spice dough is made, divide it into quarters and give it a chill. This helps with spreading, allows the flavors to meld, and keeps the dough from being too sticky to roll. That last part is super important. We want this dough to roll and cut like a dream!

Maple Spice StarsRoll the dough out until it’s 1/4-inch thick and cut the stars. Depending on the size of your cookie cutter, this could be a startling number of cookies–I ended up with eleven dozen 3-inch stars (that’s 132 cookies 😮). It’s a lot, but that means this recipe is perfect for cookie trays and food gifting. I highly recommend pairing a couple dozen of these sparkly stars with a box of tea; I like Tazo Wild Sweet Orange and Yogi Egyptian Licorice.

But back to the cookie dough…

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsBake the stars for 8 minutes, until they are starting to turn golden at the edges. They’ll crisp up as they cool.

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsNext up, whisk together a simple maple glaze and give each cookie a quick dip. Lay them on cooling racks set over wax paper to contain any excess–you just want a thin layer.

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsMaple Spice StarsAs a final touch, top the glaze with a mixture of minced candies ginger and coarse sugar. This gives the finished cookies an extra hit of ginger flavor, not to mention how beautiful it makes them look. I love how these stars sparkle ✨✨✨

Maple Spice StarsMaple Spice Stars are some of my favorite holiday cookies ever to appear on this blog, and I have made a lot (*A LOT*) of holiday cookies over the last couple of years. They’re simple, elegant, and they give a nod to a classic without being totally traditional.

Maple Spice StarsOh, and they’re stupidly delicious. And when it comes to cookies, that’s what really counts, isn’t it?!

Maple Spice StarsLooking for more cut-out cookies? Try my Iced Sugar Cookies {Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing}, Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons, Peppermint Mocha Cookies, and Red Velvet Cut-Out Cookies.

Maple Spice Stars
makes about 11 dozen 3-inch cookies

Cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons ground ginger
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
2/3 cup pure maple syrup (I like Grade A dark amber/robust taste)
1 large egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Garnish:
2/3 cup minced crystallized candied ginger
3 tablespoons coarse sugar (I like turbinado)

Glaze:
3 cups confectioners sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
4-5 tablespoons water

Make the cookies. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in brown sugar, followed by the maple syrup. Beat in the egg and vanilla. Turn the mixer to low, and add the dry ingredients in three installments, stopping frequently to scrape the bowl.

Divide dough into quarters. Wrap each quarter in plastic wrap and flatten into a disc. Chill for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Place oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour a surface and a rolling pin.

Remove one disc of dough from the refrigerator. Unwrap it, and roll it out on the floured surface. Dough may crack on the initial roll, but should become more pliable. Roll dough to 1/4-inch thickness. Dip the edge of a 3-inch cookie cutter in flour, then use it to cut out cookies. Re-roll scraps to get more cookies.

Bake cookies for 5 minutes. Rotate the pans top-to-bottom and back-to-front. Bake for another 3-4 minutes, until they are no longer wet-looking. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling and baking with remaining dough, making sure to let the baking sheets come back to room temperature between batches.

Make the garnish. In a small bowl, toss together minced crystallized candied ginger and coarse sugar. Set aside.

Make the glaze. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together confectioner’s sugar, salt, maple syrup, and 4 tablespoons of water until smooth. Add more water by the teaspoon, until the glaze is a drizzling consistency.

On a surface (or a few baking sheets), set cooling racks over sheets of wax paper. Dip each cookie in the glaze until it’s 1/3-1/2 dipped. Let any excess drip off and set cookie on a rack. Top with candied ginger garnish. Repeat with all remaining cookies. Allow to set at room temperature for at least two hours or until dry to the touch.

Cookies will keep very well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Maple Spice Stars

Pecan Florentines

Pecan FlorentinesIf you’ve never seen or heard of Florentine cookies, you’re probably not alone. I rarely see these ultra-crispy, nutty, chocolaty cookies in bakeries, but on the occasion that I do, I just have to have one.

Pecan FlorentinesMy love of Florentines began when I tried an almond version at Blue Bonnet Bakery in my hometown (they must have been out of Gingerbread Men that day 😉). I was intrigued by the non-traditional appearance of the cookie (let’s be real–I was mostly in it for the chocolate). After one bite, I knew I’d found a favorite.

Pecan FlorentinesFlash forward fifteen years and I’ve finally tried my hand at making them. And you know what? I wish I had made them sooner. I’m always so intimidated by lace cookies, but they’re actually some of the simplest to make. Exhibit A: Apple Cider Snaps.

Pecan FlorentinesHere’s what you need to know about Florentines: if you start now, you can have dough ready for the oven in ten minutes. That dough will bake in all of five minutes. And the finished cookies get filled and topped with dark chocolate. So…what are you waiting for?!

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesMeasure out a cup of pecans and then pulse them in the food processor until they become a rubble. You could use almonds or walnuts if you prefer, but given a choice, I will always go for pecans. It’s a Texan thing, I suppose. I would like more things to taste like pecan pie, Florentines included. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Anyway…mix the pecan rubble with 1/2 cup of flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesNext up, bring some butter, dark brown sugar, and Lyle’s Golden Syrup to a boil. Golden syrup is an invert sugar with a slight caramel flavor; I usually find it on the baking or international aisles (it’ll be with the British foods). If you can’t find golden syrup at your grocery store, light corn syrup works just fine.

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesBack to the recipe…combine the wet and dry ingredients and voilà! Cookie dough. It will be thin and a little, uh, gloppy, but it will be cookie dough.

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesDrop teaspoons of dough onto lined baking sheets and flatten them into circles. Bake them for 5 1/2-6 minutes, until lacy and turning golden at the edges. Keep an eye on ‘em and make sure to rotate the pans halfway through–since these cookies are mostly sugar, butter, and nuts, they can go from perfection to charcoal in seconds. I made six batches last week and you can see that I still had a few close calls. Rotate, rotate, rotate. It’s crucial to your Pecan Florentine success.

Pecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesPecan FlorentinesOnce all the cookies are baked and cooled, sandwich them together with dark chocolate. The melted chocolate may seep through some of the holes in the cookies. To mitigate this, I like to spread the chocolate onto one cookie, top it with a second cookie, and flip it over. That seems to contain any overflow.

Pecan FlorentinesAs a finishing touch, I like to drizzle a little more chocolate onto each Pecan Florentine. It’s entirely optional, but I think it’s pretty. After that, just let the chocolate set at room temperature (or if you’re impatient, throw them into the freezer for a few minutes).

(I’m impatient.)Pecan Florentines

Pecan Florentines
makes about 20 sandwich cookies

1 cup raw pecan halves
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup or light corn syrup
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Place racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking mats. Set aside.

Place pecan halves in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until they become a rubble. Transfer to a bowl and stir in flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Set aside.

Combine butter, golden syrup (or corn syrup), and dark brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and pour into the bowl with the pecan mixture. Fold together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon.

Drop teaspoons of dough at least 3 inches apart on the prepared pans. Flatten the dough into circles. Bake 3 minutes. Rotate the pans top-to-bottom and front-to-back. Bake an additional 2-3 minutes (I do 2 1/2 minutes), until golden at the edges. Let cool on the pan five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Discard and replace parchment between batches.

Once all the cookies have been baked, chop the chocolate and place it in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in 30 second increments, stirring in between, until smooth. Let cool five minutes.

Line a surface (or two baking sheets) with parchment. Place half the cookies underside-up on the parchment. Top each with about 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate. Spread it into a thin layer and top with another cookie. Carefully turn sandwich cookies over. Use a fork to drizzle remaining chocolate over the tops. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until set.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Pecan Florentines

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The time for holiday cookies and candy and extravagant breakfasts that are actually dessert. The time for family and friends and hot chocolate and caroling. But also, time for taking extra care of those for whom this holiday season might not be so wonderful.

The Sweetest Season GraphicThis year I am participating in The Sweetest Season, benefitting Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. As you may know, cancer is the #1 cause of death-by-disease for children in the U.S. In spite of this startling statistic and the 40,000 children currently battling cancer nationwide, less than 4% of the National Cancer Institute’s $4.6 billion federal budget goes to pediatric cancer research.

Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that encourages people to raise funds for pediatric cancer research in the most delicious of ways: by making cookies and sharing them with friends and family. The goal is to raise funds to find a cure, one cookie at a time. Many supporters (called “Good Cookies”) choose to have bake sales or cookie swaps, but this year I’m teaming up with many fellow bloggers to post new cookie recipes and donate directly. If you’d like to learn more and/or make a charitable donation to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer, click here.

I made my donation on Giving Tuesday, so now it’s time to talk about cookies–Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies, to be exact 😍😍😍

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Y’all, I’m just crazy about these ginger cookies. They’ve got all the flavor, chewy texture, and sparkly sugared edges you love, but without the gluten, eggs and dairy, so your gluten-free vegan friends can eat them without consequence. I love an inclusive recipe!

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}The base of these cookies is a jar of cashew butter. It gives the simple dough plenty of structure and a buttery, nutty undertone. Dark brown sugar and a couple of tablespoons of molasses keep the finished cookies soft and chewy, while ground ginger and cinnamon amp up that classic holiday cookie flavor!

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As far as egg replacement goes, I am all about aquafaba these days. If you haven’t heard of this miracle of modern vegan baking, well, you’re in for a surprise and a treat.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Aquafaba (literally translated “bean water”) is the liquid from cooking and/or canning chickpeas. As the beans cook, they release lots of proteins into the water, creating a nearly-flavorless, almost-gel-like liquid. This is the aquafaba.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}As aquafaba can be whipped to stiff peaks, many bakers like to use it to make vegan meringue cookies, mousses, and macarons. I haven’t used aquafaba for any of those things (yet!), but I have used it in my Chipotle-Sweet Potato Hummus and Cornmeal Pancakes. <–try those!

If aquafaba isn’t your thing, you could use the “flax egg” mixture I use in my Cashew Butter Snickerdoodles, but know that there will be a difference in flavor from the flaxseed. If you’re not vegan, feel free to swap in one large egg. No matter which option you choose, your cookies will be delicious.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}But enough about egg replacers! The dough for these Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies comes together quickly. After a short chill and a roll in granulated sugar, they’re ready to go in the oven. The cookies bake up in less than ten minutes, just until they’re soft in the centers and crisp and sparkly at the edges.

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}These little cookies are going to steal the show at your parties and cookie swaps, y’all. They look and taste just like the soft ginger cookies we all know and love–I bet that if I hadn’t just told you that these cookies are made from cashew butter and aquafaba, you wouldn’t even notice. And even if you do, the richness of the cashew butter, hits of molasses and spice, and chewy centers are nearly guaranteed to keep you coming back for more.Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free}

Cashew Butter Ginger Cookies {Vegan & Gluten-Free} 
makes about 3 dozen small cookies

1 16 ounce jar cashew butter
3 tablespoons aquafaba* (chickpea canning liquid)
2 tablespoons molasses (not blackstrap)
1 1/3 cups dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon baking powder

Coating:
1/3 cup granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl, combine cashew butter, aquafaba, molasses, dark brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and salt. Use an electric mixer (or a silicone spatula and some elbow grease) to beat ingredients together until smooth. Add cornstarch and mix again. Cover dough and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Pour granulated sugar into a small bowl.

Remove dough from the refrigerator. Scoop dough in one tablespoon increments and roll into balls. Coat in granulated sugar and place about 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, until puffed and golden at the edges. Let cool on the baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process with any remaining dough.

Leftover cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

If you are not vegan, you may use one large egg (at room temperature) in place of the aquafaba. Proceed with the recipe as written.

Christmas Cookie Round-Up

Merry almost-Christmas, y’all! Have you been baking up a storm leading up to the 25th? I have (clearly), and I still have a few more things I’d like to make before the holidays are over, but since I’m not in my usual corner of the universe, we’ll see if it actually happens.

Family has a way of distracting me from my work, which is probably a good thing, so I don’t have a recipe for you today. Instead, I’ve picked some Christmas cookie recipes from my archives to give you a little last minute inspiration.

Eggnog Sandwich Cookies

Christmas Cookie Round-UpY’all know I love a sandwich cookie–there are tons of them in my archives. These Eggnog Sandwich Cookies are soft on the outside and held together with a cinnamon and nutmeg-scented creme filling. I can’t stand eggnog in its traditional form, but I can destroy a stack of these.

Peppermint Mocha Cookies

Christmas Cookie Round-UpThese are the perfect cookie for the coffee-lover in your life. The cookie itself is a simple no-chill chocolate roll-out that has been spiked with espresso powder. The cookies have a spectacular mocha flavor on their own, but they really sing with a white chocolate dip and a sprinkle of peppermint candy.

Chocolate Crinkles {Gluten-Free}

Christmas Cookie Round-UpChocolate Crinkles are a classic Christmas cookie, and mine just happen to be gluten-free! Three doses of chocolate and no need for unusual flours!

Oreo-Stuffed Andes Peppermint Crunch Cookies

Christmas Cookie Round-UpEveryone loves Oreos–they really cannot be improved upon…unless you wrap them in peppermint candy-studded cookie dough. I could say more, but I don’t think I need to convince you to make these.

Salted Caramel Chocolate-Covered Pecan Cookies

Christmas Cookie Round-UpLeonard Farm Chocolate-Covered Pecans are a family Christmas tradition. Crunchy and coated in milk chocolate, they’re perfect on their own. But they’re also spectacular folded into cookie dough and stuffed with salted caramel (what isn’t?!). If you are in Brooklyn and looking for chocolate-covered pecans, Sahadi’s carries a dark chocolate version. Chocolate-covered almonds would be good here, too!

Red Velvet Peppermintdoodles

Christmas Cookie Round-UpThese soft and chewy red velvet cookies are spiked with peppermint extract and then rolled in pulverized peppermint candy. The chocolate-vanilla flavor of red velvet is only improved with that glass-like coating of starlight peppermints! And of course, who wouldn’t love that festive red color?!

Gingerbread Men with Chocolate Buttons

Christmas Cookie Round-UpGingerbread Men are one of my favorite Christmas cookies ever. While many bakers prefer to ice them with royal icing, my favorite hometown bakery favors three simple chocolate buttons. I’m hoping to make it there while I’m in town, but if I don’t, I can make my own version at home.

Are you making any of these recipes or any of my other holiday treats this year? Let me know! I hope you all have a wonderful holiday ❤🎄💚

Iced Sugar Cookies {Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing}

Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)Look at these cookies, y’all. Have you ever seen anything more festive?

Iced Sugar Cookies are a must-have this time of year. Unfortunately, they rarely taste as good as they look. The sugar cookies are often bland and hard, while the royal icing is sickly sweet and virtually flavorless otherwise. I don’t know about you, but for me, cookies need to be at least as delicious as they are pretty. Lucky for you, I have spent two years working on a roll-out sugar cookie that holds its shape, can handle a sheet of icing, and is delicious, and I’m excited to be posting it today!

Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)Where most roll-out sugar cookies are made with all butter (which can lead to spreading) or shortening (which lacks flavor and leaves a weird mouthfeel), mine are made with one of my favorite ingredients: cream cheese! Combined with a stick of butter, it gives these sugar cookies a crisp texture and keeps them from baking up overly hard. Cream cheese’s lower fat content (in comparison to butter) keeps the dough from spreading very much, so the cute cookie dough snowflakes and trees that you put in the oven will hold their shapes.

Aside from aesthetics, these Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies are delicious! They have that classic vanilla-almond flavor. And they’re only baked for a few minutes, so the edges get crispy and the centers stay a little bit soft. They are the best roll-out sugar cookies I’ve ever eaten–put them on your holiday baking list!

Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)While you could certainly serve these cookies plain or dazzle them up with some colored sanding sugars, why not go all-in and try your hand at royal icing? It’s really not as difficult as it seems…and I say that as someone who is not a natural-born decorator. All it is, basically, is drawing an outline and filling it in. And maybe adding some sprinkles for flair.

As I said, royal icing isn’t difficult to make and use, but it does require some serious technique. Buttercream, this is not. Royal icing is made with meringue powder (in the cake decorating section of Target or crafting stores) which, along with the complete absence of fat, allows the finished icing to dry to a hard finish. The other ingredients include warm water, vanilla, almond extract (or lemon extract, if you want to be traditional), cream of tartar (for stability), confectioner’s sugar, and a bit of corn syrup for shine. The icing comes together in just a few minutes with an electric mixer. It will be super thick and bright white.

To make the icing ready for cookie decorating, divide it among smaller bowls (one for each color). Royal icing begins drying quickly, so press plastic wrap onto any exposed icing. Working with one bowl at a time, add water by the 1/2 teaspoon until the icing dribbles into the bowl when you scoop it up with a fork. The “ribbon” (pattern dribbled icing makes as it comes in contact with the icing in the bowl) should begin fading after a few seconds.

Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)Next, stir in gel food coloring until your desired colors are reached. Gel food coloring is preferable here because it’s highly concentrated and doesn’t change the consistency of the icing. Make sure to have a ton of red gel on hand–I find that it takes almost a whole container to make a cup of icing achieve a true red.

Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)Pack a small amount of the icing (roughly 1/4-1/3 cup) into a piping bag with a small circular tip. Or, if you’re like me and hate washing a thousand piping tips, load it into a small sandwich bag and snip off a teeny tiny corner. Now, draw outlines on all of your cookies. If your cookie shapes have sections, draw outlines for the various parts.

Let the outlines begin to dry while you make the fill icing. Add more water by the 1/2 teaspoon until the afore-mentioned ribbon begins fading within two seconds. Then, load the fill icing into squeeze bottles.

Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)Now, fill those outlines! Working with one cookie at a time, squeeze some icing into the outlined section. Then, use toothpicks to coax the icing evenly to the edges.

You may leave the cookies to dry after you fill them, or you can decorate! I like to drop dots of other colors of fill icing into freshly-filled cookies and then swirl a toothpick around to make designs. Another thing you can do while the fill icing is still wet? Go crazy with sprinkles! How cute are these gold stars?!

Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)If you want 3D decorations, wait until the cookies have dried for at least a couple of hours and have developed a hard sort of edge. Use outline icing to draw designs on top of the cookies. I love the stripes on this snowflake!

Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)Once you’re done decorating, let the cookies dry uncovered for several hours. Most royal icing recipes take 24 hours to dry, but the recipe I use is quick-drying, so these decorated cookies are ready to eat in 4-6 hours 🎉🎉🎉

Now, go forth and make the cutest, most delicious Iced Sugar Cookies on the block!Iced Sugar Cookies (Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing)

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies
makes 3-4 dozen medium cookies

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 oz (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract

Special Equipment:
rolling pin
cookie cutters

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Cream in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by the egg, vanilla, and almond extract. Add dry ingredients in 3 installments, combining completely after each. Divide dough into quarters and wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 3 hours, or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Lightly flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one quarter of chilled dough at a time, roll it to 1/4-inch thickness, and cut with cookie cutters. Place cut cookies at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 6-7 minutes, until no longer raw-looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking with any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Quick-Dry Royal Icing
recipe barely adapted from SugarDeaux

3 tablespoons meringue powder
5 ounces warm water
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar, divided
1 tablespoon corn syrup
water

Special Equipment:
small bowls
gel food coloring
piping bags (or plastic sandwich bags)
small round piping tips and couplers
squeeze bottles
toothpicks
sprinkles

In a large mixing bowl, combine meringue powder and warm water. Beat with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until doubled in size, about 1 minute. Mix in cream of tartar, vanilla, and almond extract. With the mixer running on low, add 1 pound of confectioner’s sugar. Mix in corn syrup. Add the remaining pound of confectioner’s sugar. Scrape down the bowl before beating on medium-low for an additional 30 seconds.

Divide icing among small bowls. Press plastic wrap to the surface of all exposed icing.

Make outline icing. Working with one bowl of icing at a time, add water 1/2 teaspoon at a time until icing dribbled into the bowl forms a ribbon that fades within a few seconds. Stir in gel food coloring until the desired color is reached. Place 1/4 cup of icing into a piping bag with a tip. Alternatively, load icing into a plastic sandwich bag and snip a very tiny corner. Outline all cookies. Set aside to dry while you prepare fill icing.

Add water by the 1/2 teaspoon until the ribbon of icing fades into the bowls within 2 seconds. Load icing into squeeze bottles. Working with one cookie at a time, fill icing into outlined sections. Use toothpicks to coax fill icing evenly to the outlines.

Decorate with more icing or sprinkles, as desired (see post above). Let cookies dry uncovered at room temperature for 4-6 hours.

Iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.

For more information on decorating with royal icing, see this and this. Their royal icing recipes are not the same as the one used here, but the decorating tips are the same.

Iced Sugar Cookies {Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies & Quick-Dry Royal Icing}