Daring Baker Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies

Decorated Cookies - 13

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

I have to admit, this month’s Daring Baker challenge had me shaking in my oven mitts. I’ve attempted decorated cookies once before, and the experience was not good at all. The cookie recipe I used resulted in cookies that stuck to the counter no matter what I did, and once I finally managed to get a few un-stuck to decorate, the icing was so hard to frost with that I was barely able to outline the cookies. Needless to say, the few cookies I ended up with looked terrible, so I decided that maybe decorated sugar cookies weren’t for me…that is, until now!

When I learned that the challenge for this month was decorated cookies, I turned to Bridget of Bake at 350 for help. Her blog is one of the first food blogs I started reading, and I’ve always admired her gorgeous cookie creations. Lucky for me, she’s as sweet as she is talented, so when I came to her begging for help, she was more than happy to give it. She sent along her tried and true sugar cookie recipe, her royal icing recipe, links to FAQs, and video tutorials on her new blog, University of Cookie – a wonderful resource for a new student like myself! So, filled with the confidence to tackle decorated cookies again, I made a second attempt. This time, the cookie dough was perfect, the royal icing wasn’t hard to frost with at all, and my cookies (albeit shaky on the piping from lack of practice) came out looking great!

Since our cookies were to be decorated in light of what September means to us, I chose football. Hubby is from Cleveland and is an avid Cleveland Browns fan (and has converted me as well!), so I decided that Browns-themed cookies would be perfect to bring to the game we attended last weekend. Fortunately for me, Jen of My Kitchen Addiction had just posted these amazingly detailed football cookies, so I asked her where she got her football cookie cutters (Michael’s, in case you’re looking). All in all, my second attempt at decorated cookies was a huge success – I’m already looking for an excuse to make more!

For the vanilla bean sugar cookies:

  • 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

For the royal icing:

  • 4 Tbsp meringue powder
  • Scant 1/2 cup water
  • 1 lb powdered sugar

To make the sugar cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

Decorated Cookies - 1

In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter. Beat in the egg, extract, and vanilla bean. Gradually add in the flour mixture, beating until crumbly.

Decorated Cookies - 2

Form the dough into a ball.

Decorated Cookies - 3

Roll out on to a floured surface and cut into shapes.

Decorated Cookies - 4

Decorated Cookies - 5

Place the cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets and bake 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet before transferring to a cooling rack.

Decorated Cookies - 6

To make the royal icing, combine the meringue powder and water. With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until foamy. Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine (do NOT skip the sifting). Increase the speed to medium-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form (you should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold it up and jiggle without the peak falling). Do not over-beat.

Decorated Cookies - 7

Divide and color using gel paste food colorings. Outline the cookies.

Decorated Cookies - 8

Decorated Cookies - 10

To fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time until it is the consistency of syrup. Use this icing to “flood” the cookies.

Decorated Cookies - 9

Decorated Cookies - 11

Let dry for several hours. Add any finishing touches and then let dry overnight.

Decorated Cookies - 12

45 Responses to “Daring Baker Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies”

  1. 1 Jessica @ How Sweet Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:30 am

    I don’t think we can be friends anymore. Browns fans?! I’m sorry to tell you that I live in Pittsburgh…

    :)

  2. 2 Nicole Underwood Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:31 am

    awww, cute! you did an awesome job!

  3. 3 RJ Flamingo Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:34 am

    I will do ANYTHING to avoid decorating a sugar cookie, so I feel your pain. These came out great, though! In fact, I’ve bookmarked this post so I can take advantage of Bridget’s wisdom when the time comes, too!

  4. 4 Katrina Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:42 am

    These are so cute! I love them!

  5. 5 JenniferA Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Adorable! I’m not a football fan at all so I don’t mind the colors – looks like nice fall colors to me! :-)

  6. 6 bridget {bake at 350} Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:44 am

    Yay!!! Oh, they look great! Get ready, you may be hooked now! ;)

    And THANK YOU for the sweet mention. ? You know your blog has always been one of my favorites….that means so much to me!

  7. 7 Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:47 am

    You definitely have no reason to fear sugar cookies any more! Your cookies look FANTASTIC… Even if they are Browns cookies ;)

  8. 8 Paula Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:53 am

    You did a super job, both overcoming your fear of sugar cookies and decorating them! Congratulations and good luck with the Daring Baker’s Challenge.
    Bridget was one of the first cookie bloggers I *met*. She IS as sweet as her creations and I’m so grateful for our having *met* one another.

  9. 9 Avanika (Yumsilicious Bakes) Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 10:02 am

    I can’t believe it’s only your second attempt. Those cookies look wonderful!!

  10. 10 Jennifurla Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 10:11 am

    That batch came out so nice! Sorry you had such a bad first time, I can’t wait to make more myself – LOTS of fun

  11. 11 Maria Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 10:12 am

    I love the footballs!

  12. 12 Jamie Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Ha Ha! This challenge had me shaking in my boots and cursing all during the decorating phase. I am not a decorative kinda gal! But it was fun and the cookies disappeared in record time! Yours are just too cute! Really great job!

  13. 13 maggy@threemanycooks Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 10:31 am

    How cute are these!? Wish I had your decorating talent.

  14. 14 Tiffany Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 10:56 am

    i had the opportunity to decorate this challenge with @barbarabakes and let me tell you… yours look fabulous! we totally ruined her poor post :( be glad you didn’t invite maria and i to help you! ;)

  15. 15 Liz @ BLog is the New Black Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Adorable- great job!

  16. 16 Jeanne Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 11:23 am

    You did such an excellent job on these! Looks like you’re a sugar cookie pro now!

  17. 17 Michelle Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 11:43 am

    I dearly love to bake sugar cookies. You can do so much with a sugar cookie dough!! Love the sport theme…too cute.

  18. 18 Avrilm Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Tracy! I think you did a great job of your Sugar Cookies….absolutely adorable! :-)

  19. 19 Rosa Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    So cute! You did a great job.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  20. 20 Eliana Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    Well your cookies turned out amazing girl! I love them. They are almost too cute to eat.

  21. 21 Joanne Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Aww these are just the cutest! I haven’t tackled cookie decorating yet but with all of these great resources and your inspirational story, I am seriously going to have to SOON!

  22. 22 Kim Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Your sugar cookies look great! Nice job on the challenge!

  23. 23 Lori Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    What perfect little helmets and footballs.

  24. 24 Jenny Flake Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Cute cookies!! Bet they were delish!!

  25. 25 Susan Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    These look fantastic! I can’t believe I forgot to post mine today. Luckily I think we still have that leeway thing! (That is, if I remember to post them later this week!

  26. 26 Mary Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:12 pm

    Great cookies! I’m not a football fan (!), but could eat a team’s worth of these. Love the orangey colour.
    :)

  27. 27 faithy Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    Your cookies are wonderful! Beautifully decorated! I think you did a great job and so many of them too!!

  28. 28 Michelle @ Brown Eyed Baker Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Your cookies look great! And even though I’m a Steelers fan, I was rooting for the Browns yesterday!

  29. 29 The Southern Cookbook Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    These cookies look amzing! I will have to try this recipe. I had a bad episode when I made sugar cookies and tried to decorate them. The recipe I had was awful. I am bookmarking this one. Thanks ;)

  30. 30 Raina Says:
    September 27th, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    These look beautiful. Thanks for the great insruction and advice too! I also love Bridget’s blogs. I have just recently attempted making decorated cookies and found her blogs incredibly helpful and have gained new confidence like you:)

  31. 31 Cookin' Canuck Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Really cute cookies, Tracy! Once you get going, flooding cookies can definitely be a lot of fun.

  32. 32 Cakelaw Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 5:32 am

    I love these! Perfect for a football-loving husband.

  33. 33 Sugar Daze Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 6:45 am

    These are so cute! I love your step-by-step. The football theme is genius!

  34. 34 Aparna Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 7:32 am

    They look great. I hope you continue making more cookies now.

  35. 35 Amanda Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Great job!! You are a natural! :)

  36. 36 Small Town Runner Karen Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 10:30 am

    So pretty! I hate decorating cookies, so I will probably never, ever make these. I like the idea of Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies, though. Maybe I could make them and then just slather icing on them. But then, I hate rolling out and cutting cookies, too.

  37. 37 Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Awesome post and idea!!

  38. 38 SMITH BITES Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    These are soooo cute Tracy!! But I’m w/you when it comes to decorated cookies – NOT MY THING!! I’m a scoop & plop girl – you did great!

  39. 39 Jenni Says:
    September 28th, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Great job! Your cookies look fantastic!!!

  40. 40 Beth Says:
    September 29th, 2010 at 5:21 am

    I love the cookies — and the Browns! Well done!

  41. 41 Liz @ LBBakes Says:
    September 29th, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Ah, your cookies turned out cute! Looking forward to seeing what you come up with next month!

  42. 42 Mom R. Says:
    September 30th, 2010 at 11:31 am

    Tracy, you never cease to amaze me. Your cookies added class to our tailgate cookout. Your frosting to cookie ratio was perfect. I also appreciated the softness of the cookies….I hate when you take a bite of some cut out cookies and they just break apart.
    Go Browns….remember it’s not Cleveland, it’s Believeland!

  43. 43 shelly (cookies and cups) Says:
    October 3rd, 2010 at 7:59 am

    You did such a great job!!!

  44. 44 Jen @ How To: Simplify Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    You did such a great job on this challenge! Nice work…these look awesome!

  45. 45 amanda Says:
    April 30th, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    so adorbale. I will have to make these at our annual Super Bowl party!

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