Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Favorite Gingerbread Cookies and Perfect Vanilla Frosting

When the kids come to decorate, I have found that giving them cookies decorated with a base of royal icing makes prettier cookies! 
Favorite Gingerbread Cookies
These are from
5-1/2 c unbleached, all purpose flour (I always use King Arthur's)
1-1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t kosher salt
1-1/2 T ground ginger (yes tablespoons)
2 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1/4 t cloves
1 c salted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c packed light brown sugar
1 c molasses
1 egg
Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt & spices together. Set aside.
In another large bowl, cream the butter with the sugars for several minutes until combined and fluffy. Beat in the molasses and the egg. Scrape down sides and bottom of the bowl and beat until combined. 
In three additions, add the flour mixture on low speed. Mix until combined, stopping to sc rape the bowl as needed.
Divide the dough into two discs. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
Roll (between parchment -- I like to do this so I am not adding more flour). Roll to 1/4 or 3/8". You can dip the cookie cutter (if intricate) into flour before cutting.
Place shapes on prepared sheets and freeze for 5-10 minutes before baking.
Bake for 9-12 minutes, or until they appear done. Let sit on the cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely before decorating with royal or buttercream frosting.
My favorite buttercream frosting:
Kids like buttercream frosting! It is easy for them to decorate with and good to eat. You can't stack or package the cookies after decorating but the frosting is really good! 
This recipe is from
The not-so-secret ingredient to a creamy, velvety frosting is heavy whipping cream. It’s an ingredient that usually doesn’t come cheap, but it is makes the difference. Sure, you can substitute with milk instead but using the heavy whipping cream will help give you those extra air bubbles in the frosting once it’s whipped.
The rule of thumb for this vanilla frosting is that you should use 2 cups of powdered sugar for every stick of butter (1/2 cup). You can always make the frosting more stiff by adding more powdered sugar. You can also add additional heavy cream to offset the sweetness and make it softer.
The last thing you can do it cut the sweetness is to add a pinch of salt, but adding little by little is key. Too much salt cannot be fixed.
This frosting recipe makes enough for at least 24 cupcakes that have a hefty amount of frosting. The second rule I live by when it comes to frosting, is never come up short. So I usually end up with more than enough frosting.
This Perfect Vanilla Frosting Recipe recipe is very versatile. It’s a basic vanilla buttercream using butter and powdered sugar. This is the perfect frosting for piping cupcakes and cake decorating. 


  • 1 1/2 C (3 sticks) Unsalted butter, cold.
  • 5 C Powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp Heavy whipping cream


  1. Cut butter into pieces. Using the paddle attachment, whip butter for 5-7 minutes, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Beat until butter look light in color.
  2. Add 2 cups of powdered sugar and mix on low speed until incorporated into butter then add 2 tsp of vanilla extract and mix to combine. Beat for about 60 seconds.
  3. Next, add an additional 2 cups of powdered sugar and beat on low speed until sugar is incorporated. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes.
  4. Add last 1 cup powdered sugar along with 2 tbsp heavy whipping cream and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract . Beat on low until ingredients start to mix together. Increase speed to medium-high and beat for another 3-5 minutes to whip additional air into the frosting.


  • This frosting can be kept at room temperature if serving within 24 hours and it’s not too hot. It can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated for two days. Frosting must come back to room temperature before piping.
  • If you are coloring this frosting, I suggest to try using a clear vanilla extract to keep the frosting a pure white

My Favorite Sugar Cookies

Over the years, I have collected sugar cookie recipes and these are my favorite ones this year...

This recipe is from


  • If you love your sugar cookies soft, be extra-careful not to overbake them! Your bake time could vary based on how thick you roll the dough, and what size cookie cutters you use. If the dough is rolled thinner than noted, and the cutters are small, you probably won’t need the full bake time listed on this recipe card. Use your judgement, and pull them from the oven when the edges feel set and the cookies are just barely beginning to turn golden on the bottoms. If you bake them too long, they could become hard.
  • You can decorate these cookies with royal icing too! I made a big batch to donate to my kids’ school, and they came out fantastic. The sour cream frosting is just a little quicker/easier, and it tastes so good!
  • If you want, you can skip the sugar cookie icing, and just use sprinkles instead. Top the cut-out shapes with sprinkles before they go into the oven.
  • These sugar cookies can be baked several weeks ahead and frozen. Just stack them up in a zip-top bag and pop them in the freezer. When you’re ready to serve, let them thaw at room temperature (with the bag open), and frost them with icing.
  • If you prefer to chill the dough, you totally can. (Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.) I’ve tried it both ways: with and without chilling, and both work beautifully. If you chill the dough, it’s a little harder to roll out, but the shapes cut very nicely. I prefer not to chill because I am impatient. It still works well, but I do think it’s helpful to dip your cookie cutter in flour before every cut.
  • If you’d like to make a gluten-free sugar cookie, just sub out the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free flour blend. 
  • For a dairy-free sugar cookie recipe, use cold (solid) coconut oil in place of the butter, and use vegan cream cheese.
  • These soft sugar cookies will keep at room temperature for 1 day, or in the fridge for about a week.
  • The sugar cookie frosting will form a slight crust on the top after about an hour, but it will remain soft and moist underneath, so be careful about stacking them!
Best-ever recipe for soft sugar cookies you can roll and cut out with cookie cutters! Easy to make, no chilling required, and they don't spread into shapeless blobs as they bake. Made with a secret ingredient that gives them the most incredible flavor, and topped with a cool sour cream icing.
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, cold
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (half a brick)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line baking sheets with silpat mat or parchment paper.
  2. Place the butter, cream cheese, and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat on medium-low speed until smooth (about 1 minute).
  3. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and almond extract and mix on medium speed until combined.
  4. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula, then add the flour, cornstarch, and salt.
  5. Mix on medium-low speed until a stiff dough forms (about 1 minute).
  6. Roll the dough to 1/4-inch thick (rolling pin rings ensure an even and exact thickness) between 2 sheets of parchment paper.
  7. Remove the top sheet of parchment, and cut shapes.
  8. Peel the shapes from the bottom layer of parchment, and place on the prepared baking sheets.
  9. Bake for 12 to 16 minutes, or until just barely beginning to turn golden on the bottoms.

If you want a spice-type cookie I like SweetAmbs Orange Vanilla Spice Cookie:

From her website: This is my preferred roll out cookie recipe when decorating with royal icing. This orange vanilla spice cookie* is slightly chewy on the inside with crispy edges, keeps its shape while baking, and tastes great. It contains orange zest, vanilla bean and cardamom to give the cookies a unique flavor. It also contains agave syrup, which helps to keep them soft. Agave syrup browns more quickly than sugar, so keep that in mind when baking. This recipe is ideal for making cookies that will be decorated with royal icing. You can omit the orange zest and cardamom from the recipe for a plain cookie, or try different flavors such as almond extract and lemon zest.

You will receive the recipes in both U.S. and metric measurements with this purchase.

*For a plain cookie, omit the orange zest and cardamom. Don’t be afraid to experiment with other flavors! Try a combination of almond extract and lemon zest for a twist on this recipe.

Since she sells it on her website I can't post her recipe but you can find it here:

It is hard to find a royal icing recipe I like but I LOVE the one from the Cookie Countess. She has GREAT tutorials, inspiration, and I get a lot of my products from her too (such as the Genie's Dream Meringue Powder and the Genie's Clearly Not Vanilla -- 

Here's the link to her recipe and you can link to her other pages here too:

Royal Icing Recipe

This is my all time favorite royal icing recipe! This recipe uses 2 lbs of confectioners sugar - but you mix in 1lb at a time. If you buy a 2lb bag just eyeball half the bag. This recipe also doubles quite nicely.
Use a stand mixer with the whisk attachment to start.
  • 1/3 cup Meringue Powder I prefer Genie's Dream Meringue Powder 
  • 1/2 cup of warm water (plus 2T if you will not be adding the lemon juice from next steps)
Whisk until doubled in size, 1-2 minutes. Do not over mix.
  • 1/4 - 1 tsp butter flavoring (depending on brand) I like LorAnn. You may question if this step is worth it - but it is! (Note from Karen: I only use LorAnn too!)
  • 1 tsp vanilla I love Genie's Dream Clearly Not Vanilla, it has great flavor and no color (so it won't tint your icing).
  • 1 tsp almond extract  (This is Karen's add:) I add this to the recipe because I love almond extract in everything from pancakes to scones!
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice In real life I never measure this. I just use the juice of whatever lemon(s) I used in making my cookies. This is optional, but the lemon really cuts the sweetness of the icing nicely.
Mix until just incorporated
  • 1lb of confectioners sugar
Mix until incorporated
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup
Mix until incorporated
  • 1lb of confectioners sugar
Mix until fully incorporated
Continue to mix for about 3 minutes on high - your icing will start to turn white and have a fluffy look. But do NOT over mix. Over mixing can cause the icing to collapse. This will yield a VERY stiff icing. If you feel it is too stiff even to start with, add small amounts of water.
But it is best to start with very stiff icing for a few reasons. If you are going to store it at all before using, the less water, the less it separates. When you color your icing, this adds liquid, so you may regret adding too much water to start with. Add your color, and then your water to bring it to the consistency you want. For more about icing consistency check out Sugarbelle's blog. Tons of great info!