Here's a great, all-purpose recipe for sugar cookies, but the real gem is the method for making a beautiful set of royal icings to decorate them. We've used a trio of berry powders to make the colors here, but you can make other colors with almost any freeze-dried fruit (or vegetable).

Nancy Baggett
Source: EatingWell Magazine, April 2020
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Ingredients

Cookies
Icing

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • To prepare cookies: Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Beat butter, oil and granulated sugar in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients to form a smooth, slightly stiff dough. If the dough is too stiff, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

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  • Divide the dough in half and shape into flat disks. Place each between large sheets of parchment paper. Roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Stack the dough pieces with their parchment on a baking sheet. Refrigerate until cold, about 30 minutes, or freeze for about 15 minutes.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line several large baking sheets with parchment paper.

  • Working with one piece of dough at a time, gently peel away the bottom sheet of parchment, then pat it back into place. (This will make it easier to lift cookies off later.) Remove the top sheet and cut out cookies with 2 1/2- to 3-inch cookie cutters. Transfer the cookies to the prepared pans, spacing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Reroll any dough scraps and continue cutting out cookies until all the dough is used. (If at any point the dough softens too much to handle easily, refrigerate until firm again.)

  • Bake the cookies, one pan at a time, until golden at the edges, 9 to 12 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

  • To prepare icing: Whisk confectioners' sugar and meringue powder (or egg white powder) in a medium bowl. Whisk in 1/4 cup warm water. Divide the icing equally among 3 bowls. Add one powder to each bowl, stirring until evenly blended. If necessary, stir in more confectioners' sugar or water to achieve your preferred consistency. Ice the cookies as desired.

Tips

To make ahead: Freeze decorated cookies in an airtight container for up 1 month.

Equipment: Parchment paper, 2 1/2- to 3-inch cookie cutters

Tips: Meringue powder in royal icing helps keep the delicate natural pigments from fading or bleeding together. It's made with powdered egg whites along with other ingredients found in meringues, like cream of tartar. Find meringue powder in the cake-decorating section of craft stores, larger supermarkets and online. You can substitute egg white powder.

Freeze-Dried Fruit for Food Coloring

Freeze-dried fruits have all their water removed in a heat-free, vacuum process that also protects colors, keeps flavors fresh and fruity and creates a crumbly texture (unlike the leathery, traditionally dried ones). Ground into powder, they're ideal for coloring.

Where to Buy: Both freeze-dried fruit and pre-ground powders are readily available. Look for them at the supermarket with other dried fruit or online at amazon.com.

To Prepare Them: Grind freeze-dried fruits in a food processor until they become a fine powder. (If you find dried fruits already powdered, there's no need to grind them.)

Nutrition Facts

147.8 calories; protein 2.3g 5% DV; carbohydrates 25.1g 8% DV; exchange other carbs 1.5; dietary fiber 0.9g 4% DV; sugars 15.8g; fat 4.5g 7% DV; saturated fat 2.2g 11% DV; cholesterol 15.4mg 5% DV; vitamin a iu 111.2IU 2% DV; vitamin cmg; folate 19.1mcg 5% DV; calcium 13.7mg 1% DV; iron 1.1mg 6% DV; magnesium 2.9mg 1% DV; potassium 29.3mg 1% DV; sodium 62.5mg 3% DV; added sugar 16g.