‘Tis the season for… Christmas cookies!

Published: December 23, 2010
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The icing stays firm and will let you create elegant, colorful, matt-finish designs.

Picture a decorated pine-tree with presents lying underneath, a fireplace with stockings hung above it and a really old man dressed in red, ringing a big bell and crying out “ho ho ho”.

Christmas is the most anticipated and widely celebrated holiday among the Christian community. The big day is just around the corner and even though I don’t celebrate it, I appreciate the values it represents.

It’s not just about giving expensive gifts to your loved ones, it’s about sharing and caring for people who do not have the luxuries some of us have.

For those who don’t understand the true spirit of Christmas, it’s just another uneventful day in the calendar.

Having lived outside of Pakistan for quite some time, I have had the chance to witness some really great Christmases.

It’s always the same:

  • the adults constantly complain about being short of cash during the last days of this season and maxing out all their credit cards
  • the children write letters to Santa, praying it won’t be too difficult for the man from the North Pole to give them all what they have requested (ergo, the broke Dad)
  • the malls set up exciting discounts to clear out all their low-selling items and slightly perking up prices on their best-sellers

Although I have never attended a Christmas party, I know that home-cooked food plays a vital role in this celebration. A simple batch of customised sugar cookies is sure to perk up the mood in your household. The royal icing recipe included in this post is quite simple, stays firm and will let you create elegant, colourful, matt-finish designs on the cookies. So get right into the kitchen with your kids and start baking!

Sugar cookies with royal icing

Ingredients for Cookies

  • 1¾ cup flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ cup (115 gm) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • ¾ cup white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract/essence

Method for cookies

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together and set aside
  2. In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar using an electric beater until light and fluffy
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla essence to the butter mix until creamy
  4. Now add the flour mix to the butter mix and beat until you have a smooth dough
  5. Put the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until it is hard enough to roll
  6. Pre-heat oven to 180º C and lightly grease two non-stick baking sheets
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to an even thickness of about ¼ inch (keep picking up the rolled dough so that it doesn’t stick on the surface)
  8. Cut out the cookies using your favorite shapes and put them on a non-stick baking sheet
  9. Put the the cookies in the fridge for about 15 minutes so that the cookies won’t lose their shape during baking
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes or until the edges start to turn brown

Ingredients for royal icing

  • 2¾ cups icing/confectioner’s sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2tsp lemon juice
  • food colors

Method for royal icing

  1. Beat egg whites with lemon juice until combined
  2. Sift the sugar to remove lumps and add to the  egg mix
  3. Beat on low setting using an electric beater until nice and smooth
  4. Put in separate bowls and add food colors to them. Note: this icing starts hardening very quickly so keep it in an airtight container or covered with plastic wrap when not in use
  5. Fill a piping bag with the icing and make your desired designs on the cookies

Yousuf Bawany

Yousuf Bawany

A writer who enjoys to cook foods from across the world. He blogs at yousufbawany.wordpress.com. He tweets @YousufBawany (twitter.com/YousufBawany)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.