easy sugar cookies with royal icing

Christmas decorations in almost every household in Barletta are as follows: nativity scene complete with little fountains and paper stars, wrapping paper skies, wooden figurines from someone’s nonna and tufts of hay for the little manger. A Christmas tree, which is always fake, and usually prepared by the woman of the house so that it be absolutely perfect when guests come to admire it, sometimes has fake snow on its branches, but always has blinky lights. What’s with Italians and the blinky lights? I know we were a constant light family, and certainly not a colorful light family, but here, they’re fans of the blinking. Mysteries of life. 

Since I’m going home for Christmas on Saturday (YAY!) and am currently sans tree or nativity, I needed something to decorate in this house of mine, so I decided to make cookies for all of my students. The first few I gave out yesterday were followed by freak-outs; this is not a frosted sugar cookie culture, and my heart leapt at the sight of their little minds being blown. 
Sugar Cookies 
(from this recipe)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled, plus more for the work surface
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and granulated sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, then the vanilla and salt. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined (do not overmix). Shape into a 1-inch-thick disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Heat oven to 350° F. On a floured surface, roll the dough ¼ inch thick. Using lightly floured 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters, cut the dough into shapes, flouring the cutters and rerolling the scraps as necessary. Place 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges just begin to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. (Mine took less, keep an eye on them.) Let cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Royal Icing
(from this recipe
4 cups powdered sugar (1 [1-pound] box)
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed
Combine ingredients in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed, stopping to scrape down the bowl, until glossy and stiff, about 5 minutes. Add additional lemon juice until the frosting is the desired consistency.
Fill a piping bag or a resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off and use to decorate cookies. (If not using immediately, place a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap on the surface, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to use. Stir before using.)
Maybe Christmas cookies for my students will become a new tradition! If they liked these, I can only imagine what their reaction will be when I make them some ultimate chocolate chips...
Are you making any edible gifts? 


  1. Dancing Branflake12/19/2012

    Absolutely! In fact, all my gifts will be edible. Hooray for sharing your traditions with your students. I know they'll love it.

  2. gabyburger12/19/2012

    They look so so cute, love them!

  3. i want to eat these right now. through the screen. and really? blinking lights? that would give me a seizure.

  4. Gravy Girl12/19/2012

    I've given away cranberry almond biscotti, apricot almond biscotti, soft ginger cookies, banana bread, snickerdoodles, party mix, and sugared sugar cookies. My granddaughter called the sugared sugar cookies "sugardoodles". Merry Christmas!

  5. Brigette12/19/2012

    wonderful pictures, now i'm going to be craving a sugar cookie all day! i'm with you, i don't know if i could handle the blinking light.

  6. Stephanie12/19/2012

    This is such a great idea for little student gifts! And your cookies are way more gorgeous than anything I could ever make - no wonder they freaked out! You gave them edible art. :)

  7. La Chapstick Fanatique12/19/2012

    i know in france the cookies were so different. I am sure the kiddos were thrilled!!

  8. These are so, so cute!

  9. I'm always looking for new cookie recipes around the holidays, thanks Marissa! xoxo

  10. elizastclair12/19/2012

    I just love your blog + your constant flow of inspiration :) How do you do it?? Your blog is so delightful, thanks for always posting such fun ideas. xoxo, eliza

  11. eliza you are SO sweet. :) thank you! i'm so glad you like the idea!

  12. me too, joelle! you can never have enough! :) these are super fun, nothing like a good cut-out!

  13. yay! so glad you like them laura! :)

  14. yes, exactly! the cookies are either super hard or dry - no frosted fun ones. :) they were elated!

  15. aw, stephanie, that's so nice of you! they were more interested in eating them than how they looked though, haha!

  16. thank you brigette! :) i know, right?!

  17. aw, sugardoodles is SO cute! you are on top of your holiday baking my friend! wow! the cranberry almond biscotti would be my pick, mmm!

  18. haha! i'd love to be able to give you one, my dear. :) i know! it's distracting!

  19. thanks so much gaby! they were so fun to make. :)

  20. perfect! i love giving food as gifts, it seems so much more from the heart!

  21. Blinking lights and frostless cookies??? What is wrong with these people?! :P
    Safe travels back home! Joyeux Noel mon amie :)

  22. haha! i know! thank you mon cherie, hope your holiday is lovely! buon natale!

  23. valsocal1/05/2013

    I can never get enough of sugar cookies. mmm. I hope your holidays were wonderful.

  24. www.avillagetown.com1/20/2013

    delisshhhhhh!! and btw, that book is amazing. i'm addicted to it :)


  25. Trouverlesoleil1/20/2013

    Your cookies are so pretty and look delicious.. love the ribbon and cellophane too! The royal icing has to have the egg white;) We used meringue powder this year and it turned out great. It seemed to add a marshmallow quality to the frosting.. I could eat it by the spoonful!



thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, i love reading them so much!

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