Baking Holiday Cookies - My Family Travels

Traveling over the holidays? There's no better carry-on snack than cookies, brought to you by the Plaza Hotel in New York youth program and “Gourmet” magazine chefs.

Here’s a terrific, easy to prepare holiday cookie recipe, courtesy of Gourmet magazine, obtained at a cookie-decorating class taught in Gourmet‘s New York City kitchens to the Plaza Hotel’s Young Plaza Ambassadors children’s program (no longer active), by their executive chef and TV celebrity Sara Moulton.

  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel (optional)
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375°F. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, heavy cream, water, and lemon peel and mix until combined. In another bowl, sift or stir together, the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until just combined. Wrap well and chill for 2 hours. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough ¼ inch think. Press into cookie cutters, trim and transfer to baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Royal Icing

The special Royal Icing will be used both to ‘paint’ your holiday cookies and as ‘glue’ to stick on decorations such as sprinkles, chips, licorice strings, and candy pieces. Wait for each color to dry before adding more colors; it hardens quickly. Because children under 6 years may be more susceptible to bacteria that can come from raw eggs, Ms. Moulton recommends using powdered eggs when baking with young children.

ROYAL ICING (traditional recipe, with raw egg whites)
1 pound confectioners sugar
3 to 4 egg whites
Stir together sugar and 3 tablespoons whites. Add as much of the additional white as necessary to form an icing that holds its shape when piped out of the decorating tube. Put a few tablespoons into a few different bowls and add food coloring one drop at a time until desired colors are achieved.

ROYAL ICING (powdered egg whites)
1 pound confectioners sugar
2 tablespoons “Just Whites” (available in supermarkets)
5 tablespoons water
Stir together until very smooth.

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