Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cupcakes & Sugar Cookies Oh my!

One thing you should know about me, is that I am always on the hunt for the "perfect" sugar cookie recipe.  So if you have come across a fabulous cookie & icing recipe, do share!
This past weekend, I tried out a new recipe that I very much liked, but the icing was just ok.  It didn't have enough flavor for me.  The cookies were so easy to roll out and keep their shape, and you don't have to refrigerate the dough before rolling!  I had some issues with the icing being to thick and not "flooding" the cookie.  So I just made pretty designs on two of them before I thinned out the rest of the icing.  :)

Here are a few that flooded nicely.  I did pipe the border too thick but oh well. 

My mom decorated a few of them with sprinkles to dress them up a bit more. 

She was the first to try them and I think they were a hit! 

Here is the super easy recipe.

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
1 egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and backing powder, set aside.  Cream the sugar and butter.  Add the egg and extracts and mix.  Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

The dough will be crumbly, so knead it together with your hands as you scoop it out of the bowl for rolling.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes.  Place on parchment lined baking sheets (I recommend freezing the cut out shape on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before baking) and bake for 10-12 minutes.  Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Royal Icing
(This will cover 2-3 dozen 3-5 inch cookies in 2 colors)
(Link to recipe here.)

4 TBSP meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp light corn syrup
few drops clear extract (what ever flavor you want)

Combine the meringue powder and water.  With the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, beat until combined and foamy.

Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine.  (Do NOT skip the sifting!)

Add in the corn syrup and extract if desired.  (I think the corn syrup helps keep the icing shiny.)

Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form.

(You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and hold up and jiggle without the peak falling.) Do not overbeat.

Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.

This "stiff" icing is perfect for outlining and even for building gingerbread houses and monogramming.  To fill in your cookies, add water to your icing a teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula, until it is the consistency of syrup.  This technique of filling a cookie with thinned icing is called "flooding".

I also decided to make cupcakes because it would not be me to not make them for this special occasion!  The first batch were specially made for Ryan's Grandpa with Splenda instead of real sugar.  They do taste different but still very good.  I snagged the idea to box them up with cute labels from OccasionsKC.

These were jumbo cupcakes too!  I made another batch of regular cupcakes for my mom and anyone else who wanted them.  You HAVE to try this recipe because anyone who has tried them LOVE them.  It's a family fav.

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 chocolate cake mix
3 eggs
1 cup of milk
1 stick of melted butter
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla (good vanilla, vanilla beans, or vanilla bean paste)
Combine ingredients and whip in an electric mixer (paddle attachment) for 5 minutes. With an ice cream scoop, scoop the batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake papers.

Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes... or until the tops spring back when you touch them on top. Cool at room temperature.

The Best Butter Cream Icing
4 sticks of softened butter
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla (good vanilla, vanilla beans, or vanilla bean paste)

In a electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter for 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Whip for 5-7 minutes - very important! The icing will actually transform in the 5-7 minutes into a really lite whip.  You can add food coloring and enjoy!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of my mom's cupcakes and the flowers that we gave her.  I was in a hurry because I was trying to get them over to her house before she got off work to surprise her.
I also packaged up some of the cookies for mom & papa.  They turned out so cute! 

This picture makes me laugh because I ran out of wrapping paper so I just wrapped half of Ryan's gift!  I was too lazy to run out and by more.  :)  KC is next to Ryan to see what he got too.

I totally surprised the hubs this year with his gift.  He had no idea what I got him.  We usually find out each others gifts before hand some how.  This year I got him his very own Poker set that included a nice Mahogany case, clay poker chips, dealer chip, dealer timer, new cards and a 4 deck card shuffler.  Ryan was over the moon with excitement.  I don't think he put it down all afternoon and immediately set up a Poker game for this week.  Hey, I know my man!

And my man knows me!  I am getting to take a photography class starting later this month that is once a week for 8 weeks!!  There are no words to describe how excited I am, and Ryan's mom is in the class too.  It will be so much fun.  I will have to start a weekly Photography 101 blog on what I'm learning and pictures I've taken.  I took a photography class in high school and loved it.  I've always wanted to take another one, and I can't wait for this one!  The hubs also surprised me with another fun gift that I was not expecting at all.  We are going on a trip in March and he got us an excursion to go zip lining.  How fun is that??  It will be like one of the episodes on the Bachelor! Ha!  More on the trip later.



  1. Uuummm...jealous. :) I did get a pair of silver sequin Toms, though!

    Can't wait to read your photography tips.

  2. Oh my word... all of those treats sound delicious!
    I hope you will show us all the fun pics you take in your photography class. I need to get motivated to be better with my camera.

  3. Mmm, your treats all look delicious. I bet that almond extract adds a nice special something to your cookies. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog until tomorrow evening and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link your treats up.


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