Until I sat down to decorate these sugar cookies last weekend I’d forgotten how relaxing and enjoyable punching shapes out of dough and creating little royal icing designs can be. I’m usually more of a drop cookie person but I felt like making something really spring-like and cheerful and some brightly colored butterflies seemed to fit the bill. I found a great little butterfly cookie cutter at Michaels and – wouldn’t you know – the Wilton folks had printed a cookie recipe right on the back.
True to their name, these cookies are indeed sugary. Buttery too. Works for me! The original recipe actually called for a half-teaspoon of almond extract but since my daughter hasn’t been introduced to nuts yet and knowing she was sure to plead for “cook-kiss” I decided to omit it and add a little more vanilla instead. It made a nice, tasty vanilla cookie.
There are a few important lessons I learned in this cookie construction process. For one, rolling your dough out thicker than the recommended 1/8″ results in some chubby butterflies. Also, it’s probably best not to combine Wilton’s Delphinium Blue and Juniper Green Garden Tone icing colors in hopes of making some kind of turquoise. It actually makes gray (as seen on a few of these cookies in the photos). Finally, sit down to decorate when you’ve got a sizable block of time on your hands to create because, Lord, you would not believe how long I spent adding more and more details to the designs and changing colors and decorating tips. I got a little carried away.
I’m really looking forward to the day my little girl is old enough to join me for an afternoon of cookie decorating. Until then maybe it will just be my little escape.
P.S. I am “bringing” these cookies to Art & Aioli’s Virtual Open House. Congrats on your 1-year anniversary, Nicole!
Roll-Out Sugar Cookies
Adapted from the Roll-Out Cookies recipe on the back of the Wilton Butterfly Comfort Grip™ Cutter package
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
In a mixing bowl, cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Mix flour, baking powder and salt; add to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing after each addition. Do not chill the dough. Divide the dough into 2 balls. On a floured surface, roll each ball into a circle approximately 12 in. wide and 1/8 in. thick (don’t make them thicker than this or your cutout may lose its shape during baking). Dip cookie cutter in flour before each use. Bake cookies on ungreased cookie sheet 6-7 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned.
Adapted from the Joy of Cooking
Makes about 6 tablespoons
1 large egg white
1 1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar, divided
In a microwave-safe bowl, stir egg white and 2/3 cup sifted powdered sugar until thoroughly combined. Microwave on high until the mixture reaches 160°F on an instant-read thermometer (it should not exceed 175°F), 30 to 60 seconds. If you need to take more than one temperature reading, wash the thermometer thoroughly or dip it into a mug of boiling water before taking additional readings.
Add the remaining 2/3 cup of sifted powdered sugar and beat on high speed until the icing is cool and holds stiff peaks. If the icing is not stiff enough, add more powdered sugar.
Color, if desired, with liquid or powdered food coloring (the color will intensify as the icing stands). The icing can be stored in a covered container for up to 3 days; press a piece of wax or parchment paper directly against the surface to prevent drying. The icing can be rebeaten if necessary. To pipe, use a small pastry bag fitted with a fine tip, or cut off the corner of a sealable plastic bag or the tip of a parchment paper cone.
See the Recipe Index for all the recipes on Cooking On the Side.