It finally snowed here in NYC, which means that the holiday season is officially upon us! For me, Christmas time means hot apple cider, Christmas movies, and sugar cookie decorating!
The thought of trying to veganize a sugar cookie recipe is very nerve wracking...So I didn't do it. No, I'm not saying I used eggs or butter- but I did borrow someone else's recipe and just used egg replacer and Earth Balance. If you've never used egg replacer, I'm about to change your vegan baking life. It's a combination of starches that acts as the 'binder' in vegan baked goods. It comes in a package that looks like its from the 1970's, and is usually pretty easy to find in the grocery store. I don't use it a lot, but in this sugar cookie situation...it's perfect.
Another Christmas cookie difficulty is trying to decorated them in a way that doesn't end up looking like your 4yr old cousin did it. (Who I'm sure is very cute, but maybe isn't Picasso just yet)
After quite a bit of trial and error, I'm going to share some tips and tricks with you that have saved me many cookie headaches!
- keep is simple. No need to try and create a multicolor masterpiece. Pick one or two colors of frosting and top it with sprinkles!
- If you do want to do a design on your cookies, pick simple shaped cutters that won't require intricate piping work! Stars, Stockings, Trees, and Candy Canes are all fairly simple designs that require one or two colors with minimal intensive piping.
- Chill your rolled out dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cutting out your shapes and putting them into the oven. Working with warm cookie dough will result in spread out cookies. The butter inside will be too warm right after it's rolled out and will melt/expand your shapes.
- Cookies must be COMPLETELY cooled before you try to decorate them. Otherwise the icing will melt into the cookie.
- If you want to create fancy piped designs.....get piping bags or plastic bottles with tips. It's just easier. Ziploc bags will work just fine, but piping bags will truly up your game.
- Make Mini Cookie Bites! (Pictured in this post) Cut out little squares and frost them different colors! Often times people don't want a full cookie, so these little bites are a perfect sweet treat.
- Use royal icing instead of a buttercream frosting. I suggest this because royal icing will keep its shape after drying for about 12 hours - buttercream will always stay soft and smear any design you try to make if you stack, layer, or do anything with your cookies. Classic Holiday sugar cookies require royal icing.
- Royal icing is extremely simple to make! It's two ingredients! Powdered sugar and water. That's it! Pour powdered sugar into a bowl, and then add water to it 1 tsp at a time while whisking. You want it at a consistency that it will stick to the fork and spoon when lifted from the bowl, but when it falls back in, holds its shape for a second or two before blending into the other frosting. This way it won't slowly roll off the cookie before it dries, or be too firm to spread at all.
- Let your frosting DRY. I cannot stress this enough. Royal icing takes at least 12 hours, if not more, to firm up. So don't think you'll be creating multi colored/leveled cookies in one evening. Intricate sugar cookies can take days to make.
- If you want shiny royal icing, you can always add a little bit of corn syrup. I know corn syrup is the devil, but I'm just letting you know how to get that gorgeous shiny frosting that you're probably envisioning in your mind.
I hope these tips help you in any cookie conundrum you may find yourself in! If there are any other questions I didn't answer, leave a comment below and I'll get back to you asap.