If you're looking for a new cookie recipe this season, this Holiday Shortbread Cookie recipe is sure to satisfy your holiday sweet tooth. The recipe comes from award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Sinai Vespie. Vespie recently competed and won in the Food Network’s Halloween Baking competition, Haunted Housewarming. Now you can brighten your dessert table with a new family favorite.
Shortbread with Royal Icing
- ½ cup sugar
- 14 Tbsp butter
- ½ tsp salt, plus ⅛ tsp
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ orange zest (optional)
- 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour, plus 3 Tbsp
- To add a flavor to the shortbread: add ¼ tsp five spice, ground ginger or cinnamon
- Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or use a hand mixer.
- Turn to medium low speed and cream until smooth.
- Add sugar, zest and salt and mix on medium-low speed for about two minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Scrape down sides of the bowl.
- Add vanilla and mix on low speed for about 30 seconds to distribute evenly.
- Add flour in two additions, mixing on low speed for 15-30 seconds after each or until just combined.
- Scrape the bottom of the bowl to incorporate any flour that may not have gotten mixed completely.
- Place the dough on a long piece of plastic wrap and press or flatten into a square.
- Wrap dough tightly and place in the refrigerator for two hours. (This will store in a freezer for up to one month.)
- Heat oven to 325 F.
- Lightly dust the surface you will roll out the cookie dough on with flour and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
- Once cooled, take cookie dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap and place on the floured surface.
- Gently roll the dough out to ¼ inch thickness, or as thick as you prefer. NOTE: Be sure to work fast so the dough does not warm up too quickly or it may be difficult to keep the shape when moved to a cookie sheet. If dough gets too warm, carefully transfer into a cookie sheet and place back into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
- Cut out desired shapes and place onto a cookie sheet leaving at least one inch space between cookies.
- Bake 13-15 minutes in a convection oven or 17-19 minutes in a standard oven and turn the cookie sheet halfway through baking to ensure even baking and color. The finished product should be a pale golden brown.
- Place cookie sheets on cooling racks and cool for at least 15 minutes.
Royal Icing ingredients
- 4 Tbsp meringue powder
- 4 cups powdered sugar (about one lb)
- 6 Tbsp warm water
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Food coloring of your choice and amount
- In a large bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the meringue powder and powdered sugar, then slowly mix in the water and vanilla while the mixer is running on medium to low speed.
- Increase speed to medium and beat until stiff peaks form, around 5 minutes. This can be done with a hand mixer, but will take a couple of minutes longer.
- Divide the thick white icing into individual bowls for however many colors you want and add gel food coloring, a few drops at a time, mixing well until you achieve the shades you like.
- From there, you can reserve half of each color at piping consistency for piping borders or thin all the icing to flood consistency.
- To thin each color to flood consistency, add 1 tsp water at a time and stir well, continuing to add water by 1/2 tsp increments until you reach your desired consistency.
- Once your icing is colored and the right consistency, scoop it into a piping bag fitted with a size 2 or 3 piping tip (This is nice to have but not required; available at most craft store decorating sections).
- Decorate your sugar cookies by first outlining the border, then filling in the middle with flood icing which should settle into itself.
- Use a toothpick or scribe tool to fill in any gaps by spreading the icing around, then tap the cookie on the counter a few times to help the icing settle into a smooth, even layer.
- You may add sprinkles and sparkles to your decorations for some fun effects.
- Dry cookies at room temperature for 6-8 hours until the icing is completely firm before adding additional layers or design or stacking for transport.