I look at these cookies more as a holiday project than just a batch of cookies because they do take some time and effort. But they’re a great thing to do with kids — little Martha Stewart wannabes. And the cookies taste great without the icing. So if your readers want to make them without the decoration, they’re wonderful as is. Or ice them and bring these cookies as holiday presents. They make great gifts if you make little holes and thread them through with ribbon to hang from a tree or window. They don’t necessarily have to be eaten.–Tish Boyle
- Quick Glance
- 2 H
- 17 H
- Makes 24 cookies
Special Equipment: 4 1/2-inch snowflake-shaped cookie cutter
5/8-inch petal-shaped aspic cutter
Plastic drinking straw
#6 round new and unused paintbrush
Pastry bag fitted with coupler and narrow writing tip (such as Ateco #2)
- For the basic decorative cookie dough
- 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (from about 1 medium orange or 4 g)
- For the decorator's icing
- Note: Make a double batch for this recipe
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 6 tablespoons warm water
- One 1-pound box confectioners' sugar
- For decorating
- White sanding sugar, for sprinkling
- Silver or pearl dragées (if cookies are for decorative use only)
- Make the cookie dough
- 1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt; set aside.
- 2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium-high speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg, yolk, vanilla extract, and orange zest and mix until well blended. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture one-third at a time, mixing just until combined. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide it into 4 pieces. Shape each piece into a disk, wrap well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, until firm (or up to 2 days).
- 3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- 4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll one of the dough disks out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Use a 4 1/2-inch snowflake-shaped cookie cutter to cut out the cookies. Using a 5/8-inch petal-shaped aspic cutter, cut out shapes from the interior of each snowflake or leave some without cutouts, if you want. (Save the scraps for rerolling.) If you plan to hang the snowflakes as ornaments, use a straw to cut out a hole on one of the points of each snowflake.
- 5. Using a metal spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them 1/2 inch apart. Bake, one sheet at a time, for 10 to 15 minutes, until pale golden brown (baking time will vary depending on the size and shape of the cookies). Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack and cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.
- Make the icing
- 6. Meanwhile in the bowl of an electric mixer, using the whisk attachment, beat the meringue powder, water, and confectioners’ sugar at medium-low speed until the icing forms stiff peaks, about 7 minutes.
- 7. Thin the icing to the consistency you want by adding a little warm water, a few drops at a time.
- Ice and decorate the cookies
- 8. Transfer one-third of the icing to another bowl. Cover the surface of the icing with plastic wrap and set aside to use later to make designs on the iced cookies.
- 9. Add warm water to the remaining icing, a few drops at a time, until it does not leave a trail when it drops from a spoon and its consistency is slightly thicker than corn syrup. Dip a #6 round paintbrush into the icing and gently dab it onto the surface of one of the snowflake’s points, letting the icing gently drop onto the cookie without actually brushing it on. Continue to dab the icing onto the cookie, working with one section at a time, until the entire cookie is iced. Place the cookie on a baking sheet and set aside. Repeat with the remaining snowflakes. Let dry in a cool place for at least 2 hours. Discard any unused icing from that bowl.
- 10. Add warm water, a few drops, at a time to the reserved icing until it is thin enough to pipe a straight line smoothly and does not form peaks when a spoon is dipped into it. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a coupler and a #2 writing tip with the icing. Pipe small dots along the edges of a snowflake at 1/8-inch intervals. Do the same along the edges of the cutouts. Decorate the interior of the snowflake as you like, with dots, lines, and flourishes, or a filigree pattern. If the snowflake is to be solely decorative, pipe a few larger dots of icing on it and, using tweezers, arrange a dragée in the center of each one. While the icing is still wet, sprinkle the cookie with sanding sugar, tapping off the excess. Repeat with the remaining snowflakes. Let the icing dry completely, about 12 hours. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.