I’ve been busy. These little guys took some time — and I didn’t make just a hand full of them. I made more like 50. But it was really fun. Some women quilt or knit or scrapbook. I just make five batches of the world’s best sugar cookies, mix up a ridiculous amount of royal icing and start piping. Time consuming, YES, but I enjoyed it for sure. And, I loved that I was creating something to share. The fun didn’t stop when the baking and frosting were through. Delivering these little Santa’s was a treat too!
About halfway through the piping process I realized I should have taken pictures of the different stages. I’m learning. But, it really was pretty simple.
1. Pipe the outline of the face on all of the cookies. Flood the face with flesh colored icing (pink and yellow are a perfect combination for this).
2. Outline the red part of the hat. Flood the hat area with red and add red sparkling sugar.
3. Outline the white parts of the hat. Flood the rest of the hat with white and add sprinkles.
4. Outline and flood Santa’s beard. Add white sprinkles to give him some good scruff.
I used mini m&m’s for Santa’s nose and sugar pearls for the eyes.
Oh, and that brings me to another thing: Have you heard of Fancy Flours? They are such a great resource. They have every kind of sprinkle, cookie cutter, or cupcake topper imaginable. Pick a theme and they’ve got something for you.
I’m pretty sure you won’t be making a bunch of Santas like I did. (But if you do I want to hear about it!) Christmas is only 3 days away after all, but if you’ve got sugar cookies planned, give these a try. You will be so glad you did. It’s not very often that a cookie recipe calls for powdered sugar, but it sure works for this one!
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
2 ½ cups sifted flour
Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm.*
Roll to ¼ inch thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets.
Bake at 375 for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool.
If you want a royal icing recipe, here it is:
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
5 tbsp. water
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.
This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. If you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick. Add a little more liquid and try again.
Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.
Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along. Allow to set.
Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired. Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid. Liquid food coloring can be used as well – add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.