When I think of the Easter holiday and how it has evolved in my life, I feel so blessed to have been able to share it with family. When I was younger my mom would often cook a big dinner and we would all gather round and enjoy the day. Since I’ve been married, we’ve spend it with hubby’s uncle and aunt. They always welcome a big crowd into their cozy home and somehow make sure everyone has a place. In addition to the whole spread of ham, potatoes, etc, the celebration includes stuffed shells and homemade wine from Italian relatives along with the most delicious and coveted home made chocolates – from peanut butter filled (hubby’s favorite), marshmallow filled (reminiscent of local chocolatier, Malley’s), to all shapes and sizes of bunnies, eggs, etc. It’s tough to bring a side or dessert that can compliment this event, but there are bound to be delicious salads and jellos, too. I decided to bake some sugar cookies in lieu of decorating eggs using my Christmas sugar cookie recipe and being inspired by the Panera Easter cookies available this time of year.
Rolled, sugar cutout cookies may seem intimidating, but they really aren’t that difficult if I can make them. 🙂 The recipe below is a variation on Betty Crocker’s. And I keep the icing easy by just doing a powdered sugar glaze (like royal icing) that you can pipe or spread quickly. If you get the consistency right, it will fill out the cookie and hide mistakes from unsteady hands (mine!).
IT’S ALL ABOUT THAT DOUGH
The steps to making the cookie dough and rolling out are simple – mix the wet ingredients, mix the dry ingredients, mix them together to form a soft dough. I then remove it from the bowl, shape it into a disc, and wrap in plastic for refrigeration. When it comes time to roll out, the dough will be quite hard. Just sprinkle some flour on your counter and use the palms of your hands to knead the dough until it is soft enough to roll but not too soft that it sticks to the counter. By sprinkling enough flour on your rolling surface and turning a few times while rolling, you will ensure the cookies don’t stick. Use your cutters for shapes and work relatively quickly – if the dough gets too warm, you may need to refrigerate again before rolling scraps. Before baking you may also want to refrigerate the pans without the cutout in them, just for 5 minutes will help them hold their shape in baking.
HAVE FUN DECORATING
Follow directions for baking and cooling, and then you are ready to decorate! The ingredients for the glaze icing are approximate – I find that I adjust the amount of water and sugar to get a consistency that I can pour from the bowl but thickly, like molasses. I usually spread the icing on with a butter knife and then maybe pipe finer designs, but for these, I used 2 plastic icing bottles for the yellow icing – one to line the border of the cookies (thicker consistency that you let dry a little) and one to flood the inside of the cookies (thinner consistency). I then used another to pipe the white squiggles.
I really worked quickly on these and they are most definitely not perfect. But they were relatively easy to make – just need a little time (sometimes I will bake one day and decorate the next). I added the pastel M&M’s while the icing was still wet, and I think they will be a cute addition to the Easter table! Enjoy. 🙂
1.5 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter (2 sticks, softened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2.5 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
2 c powdered sugar
1.5 T water
1 T light corn syrup
1/4 tsp almond extract
1. In large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg with electric mixer on medium speed. Stir flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar together. Add to the egg mixture and stir. Remove, shape into a disc, and wrap in plastic to refrigerate at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
2. Heat oven to 375F. On lightly floured surface, roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut into shaped with cookie cutters. Place about 2 inches apart on cookie sheet.
3. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.
4. In small bowl, mix all icing ingredients except food colors with a fork. Stir in food color, one drop at a time until reaching desired color. Decorate cookies and let dry completely (overnight if necessary). Serve or freeze. Makes ~4 dozen 3-inch cookies.