Is it really the holidays if you don’t have festive sugar cookies? These classic cookies are topped with an elegant Royal Icing wreath that’s easier to create than you might think. Follow our step-by-step decorating guide and you’ll be decking the halls with these jolly cookies in no time.
- 1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups (240 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 1 large egg (50 grams), room temperature
- 1½ teaspoons (6 grams) vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon (2 grams) almond extract
- 3¼ cups (406 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (3 grams) kosher salt
- Royal Icing (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of bowl. Add egg and extracts, beating until combined.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture, beating until a dough forms.
- Divide dough in half; cover one half with plastic wrap. On a heavily floured surface, roll remaining dough to ¼-inch thickness. (Lightly flour top of dough if it sticks to rolling pin.) Using a 3¼-inch fluted round cutter, cut dough, rerolling scraps as necessary. Using a 1¾-inch fluted round cutter, cut centers from cookies. Repeat with remaining dough. Using a small offset spatula, place cookies at least 1 inch apart on prepared pans.
- Bake, one batch at a time, until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Let cool on pans for 5 minutes. Using a large offset or flat metal spatula, transfer cookies to a wire rack, and let cool completely.
- Using piping bag with plain white Royal Icing, pipe an outline along both edges of each cookie. Let dry for 5 minutes. Fill in center using white Royal Icing in squeeze bottle. Immediately pipe small green dots to left and right of center of ring using small piping bottle. Using a wooden pick, continuously drag through center of cookie to create leaves. Let dry for 2 to 3 hours.
- Using piping bag, pipe red Royal Icing berries in groupings around cookie. Let dry until hardened, about 30 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- 1 (2-pound) package (907 grams) confectioners’ sugar
- 5 tablespoons (50 grams) meringue powder
- ¾ cup (180 grams) warm water (105°F/41°C to 110°F/43°C)
- 1 tablespoon (13 grams) vanilla extract
- Gel food coloring (juniper green, kelly green, Christmas red, black, yellow)
- Water, as needed
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder at low speed until combined. Slowly add ¾ cup (180 grams) warm water and vanilla, beating until fluid. Increase mixer speed to medium, and beat until stiff, about 5 minutes.
- Place 1 cup (180 grams) white icing in a piping bag fitted with a small round piping tip (Wilton No. 3). In a medium bowl, place another 1 cup (180 grams) white icing. Slowly add green food colorings until desired color is reached. Add water, 1 teaspoon (5 grams) at a time, until flood consistency is reached (about 3 teaspoons [15 grams] total). Place green icing in a small piping bottle fitted with a small round tip (Wilton No. 4). In another medium bowl, place another 1 cup (180 grams) white icing. Slowly add red food coloring until desired color is reached. (Adding a touch of black and yellow will keep it from going pink.) Place in a piping bag fitted with a small round tip (Wilton No. 2), or trim end of bag to create a small opening. Place remaining white icing in a large bowl. Add water, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) at a time, until fluid (5 to 7 tablespoons [75 to 105 grams] total.) (It should ribbon when a whisk is pulled up out of icing.) Place in squeeze bottle with a small opening.
Layered Boughs of Holly
Follow these simple steps to deck your sugar cookies with a festive wreath.
STEP 1: Using a piping bag with plain white icing, pipe an outline along both edges of each cookie. This is the stiffer icing that will hold its shape and create a nice border. Let dry for 5 minutes.
STEP 2: Add water to remaining white icing, 1 tablespoon (15 grams) at a time, until fluid. This is the flood-consistency icing, which should fall in a slow ribbon when whisked. Place in squeeze bottle, and fill in center of a cookie.
STEP 3: Immediately pipe small green dots using small squeeze bottle. This icing is also flood-consistency and will melt right into the white icing, forming tiny circles.
STEP 4: Using a wooden pick, continuously drag through center of cookie icing to create leaves. Let dry for 2 to 3 hours. You’ll need the icing to set completely before piping the red berries so they appear three-dimensional.
STEP 5: Using a piping bag and red icing, pipe berries in groupings within the “leaves” around cookie. Let dry until hardened, about 30 minutes.