You know what the best part of decorating cookies is? That moment right before you actually start making the icing. Everything is clean, lined up, and ready to go. Because by the time that the icing is done, all bags and bottles have been filled with each color, and the cookies are spread out… the place is a complete disaster.
And that’s just the island.
But it’s always a ton of fun and The Little gets a kick out of “painting” with “mommy’s tools.”
I don’t love royal icing so I opted to try a recommended nonroyal sugar cookie icing. It behaves pretty much exactly like royal icing, only it dries glossier (which I failed to capture, but it does). And it doesn’t have that funky royal icing smell that I associate with meringue powder. You outline, flood, and add detail.
And spend the rest of the night quoting A Christmas Story. You’ll shoot your eye out! I can’t put my arms down! Ohhhhh Fuuuuuuudge.
And if your husband is 3 weeks deep into Cousin-Eddie-from-Christmas-Vacation quotes, he probably won’t even roll his eyes once 🙂
The downside – the plain white icing less opaque than plain royal icing. This is where, if you haven’t before, you might just see the value in white food coloring. I didn’t have any and thought it looked pretty good after drying.
The recipe for the cookies you see above is my very favorite cut-out sugar cookie recipe. It’s a shortbread-sugar cookie hybrid from The Pastry Queen. It’s delicious and doesn’t overly spread or puff when you bake it.
And the leg lamp came from a homebrew cookie cutter – I simply found a picture online of a leg lamp, scaled it to a better size, printed it, and traced it onto a piece of cardboard reclaimed from soda fridge pack box. And I saved $10 by not buying a cookie cutter. (Although I’d happily spring for the cookie cutter if I were making more than just a few of these.)
I found the original icing recipe size to be far too small for decorating – but it probably would have been fine for just dipping cookies. We made a double batch of the recipe you see below to decorate 2 dozen cookies with several colors and had almost nothing leftover.
Sugar Cookie Icing
An alternative to royal icing that makes equally pretty decorations on cut-out sugar cookies.
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp milk (plus more to adjust consistency)
- 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp corn syrup (plus more to adjust consistency)
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- Gel food colorings (I use Americolor)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, corn syrup, and extract until uniform.
- You may find this mixture to be far too thick even for outlining (I sure did) so add equal parts of milk & corn syrup until the consistency is right (I needed 1 1/2 tsp more of each).
- Divide between bowls and color the frosting.
- Transfer to a piping bag, candy bottle, or my favorite - a small sandwich baggie fitted with a coupler and tip (I use Wilton #1-2 for outlining, 2-3 for detail).
Yields: Enough frosting to decorate 12 cookies in 4-5 colors
Estimated time: 10 minutes
Thank you for posting a non royal frosting! I like the look of royal, but the taste is terrible. Will have to try it out. Also, love the christmas story cookies!
Oh my goodness, these are so cute!!
Does this icing set up hard enough to stack the cookies? I’m not a fan of royal icing’s flavor, either, but it works well when putting together boxes of cookies for neighbors and friends.
Yep! It hardens completely. I stacked the cookies after they dried overnight without issue.
You know I have yet to even do this.
My icing skills are bad.
Yours are very good!!!
You used all the glue on PURPOSE!
I wish I could decorate at least good enough to not be embarrassed. Your cookies are decorated beautifully.
I generally don’t really find I have the patience to ice cookies…but maybe THIS is the year!
I’ve been putting off trying royal icing because it just seemed a little complicated. This sounds much simpler, especially if it taste better!
I had no idea there was an alternative to royal icing. This is great, Shawnda! And, the cookies are priceless. Great job with the homemade cookie cutter!
I love the leg lamp cookies! They’re fantastic!
I’m such a cookie cutter addict. I need to get my Christmas cookie baking underway this weekend before I run out of time to use them all.
The leg lamp cookie totally caught my attention – LOVE IT!!!
Those leg lamps are phenomenal – best iced Christmas cookies ever!!
These cookies look great!
Oh my, I love LOVE those leg lamp cookies. Very fun!
These look great! Just wondering how hard this frosting is when dry? I love the look of royal type icings but hate biting into a cookie and having the icing be rock hard!
Oh, it’s definitely softer than royal icing. It will crust over and dry but it doesn’t have the cement-like texture of royal icing.