I make them every year because out of all the Christmas baking they look the part the most with the festive shapes and all the colours. I also really enjoy time set aside to decorate. Last year, I had a terrible cold so I stayed home to "rest" (you'll have to strap me to my deathbed). So probably after some light vaccuming and a few loads of laundry, I got my decorating on. I had baked the cookies a day earlier and they were ready to be covered in sprinkles and glitter so I got everything ready and took it to the dinning table and began what would be a couple of hours of painting and sprinkling and icing the cookies. W walked in and saw me surrounded by my creations and said "You need some kids!" (we're working it on people). This is a fun activity to do with kids, sure, if you don't want them to look just right. I'm kidding here - I love the handmade look and how each cookie looks different.
Every year, I've made them a little differently. The recipe and shapes stay the same but the colours and sprinkles are changed up, mainly because not one supermarket seems to carry the same thing from year to year but also because I like to try out different styles. One year, I went very traditional with greens and reds, another year was pastel colours and 'hundreds and thousands' and last year I found some cute snowflake sprinkles and red and green sugar. This year I've gone for wintry with a white and silver theme and some blue glitter.
This was very much like the Toblerone shortbread adventure from last week. A few slip ups and some cookie casualties (don't worry - I saved 'em!) but I've made the mistakes so you don't have to. When you think to yourself "I'm sure I didn't line the cookie sheets with wax paper last year", think again and go and buy some wax paper. Don't even try a few without it. It won't work - they will stick like glue and break and you'll be forced to take 1 (or 6) for the team. What did you have for dinner last night? I had a half a dozen sugar cookies.
Handle the stars very carefully; a few were fully decorated before they decided to take the plunge. Face down.
My entire kitchen was covered in glitter and sprinkles and little silver balls. And just for fun I threw some all over the counter.
The recipe has been scribbled down in my notebook for about 5 years (most likely given to me by my mother) with very clear instructions like mix in flour etc and divide in half, wrap, fridge, roll, cut, 1cm, 10 min but I'll try and be a bit more specific down below. The decorating, however is recipe free and entirely up to the creator. Go get yourself some kids and make some cookies! ( I feel I need to be clear here - children you know, your own or some nieces and nephews will do but don't go rounding up the neighbourhood kids claiming you need them for a recipe -it won't go down well).
Sugar Cookies (adapted from my little blue notebook)
For the cookies
1 3/4 cups flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk flour, salt and baking powder in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, blend butter and sugar until smooth. Add in egg and vanilla and mix together. Slowly stir in flour mixture a little at a time until fully incorporated. Divide dough in half and roll into large balls and flatten into a disk shape. Wrap in cling film and set in the fridge for an hour.
Roll out on a lightly floured surface until 1 cm thick and cut with cookie cutters. Line baking sheets with wax paper and place cookies about 2 cm apart. Place in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes (this helps cookies retain their shape when baked).
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees Celsius for 8-10 minutes. Edges will burn quickly so keep an eye on them.
For the icing
1 egg white
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
With a hand mixer blend everything until smooth. Cover the bowl with a dish towel as you mix to minimise the dust cloud that emerges. Once cookies have cooled, use a small clean paintbrush to decorate. Gently push the icing to the edges in a circular motion and decorate with sprinkles. Alternatively, add food colouring to the icing or use a piping bag to draw designs on the cookies.