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Shortbread Cookies + Decorating with Royal Icing

7 August 2011

It’s been a while…almost 3 months since my last post. Our kitchen was out of order for 3 months, but we finally finished the renos a few weeks ago. I wasn’t able to cook anything, hence no recipe posts, but now I can! I’ve also been working full-time and I haven’t really gone out to new places to eat (or brought my camera with me), so no restaurant reviews…I sort of lost motivation too. I’m not trying to create excuses or anything…okay yeah I kinda am, but at least I’m back now! Hopefully, I can get into a rhythm and pump out a few more posts before school starts again in September. It’s kind of weird that I haven’t posted anything during my summer break, but I posted plenty during the school year. I guess it’s the whole work thing and during school I got home early and could make myself lunch or make dinner. Anyways, on to the post!

As you can probably tell, I made shortbread cookies. Yesterday, my girlfriend really wanted to make cookies and decorate them, so she came over and we found a recipe and got down to work. We also got a brand-spanking new Kitchenaid stand mixer to go with our kitchen, which I got to use to make these cookies.

Here’s what your gonna need:

Shortbread Cookies (from Ina Garten) – makes about 2 dozen:

  • 3/4 pound (1 1/2 cups) butter, room temp.
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt

These cookies are dead simple but they taste delicious. Probably all that butter.


1. Cream the butter and sugar (if using a mixer, use the paddle attachment) until light and fluffy (it’s easier if you cut the butter into smaller pieces). Add the vanilla.

2.  Sift together the flour and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.

3. Dump onto a floured surface and shape into a disk. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out dough to desired thickness (1/4 to 1/2 inch). Cut into whatever shapes you want (my girlfriend has all these animal-shaped cookie cutters, so we used them). Place onto parchment-paper lined baking sheets.

There were bunnies, pigs, bats, butterflies, bears, ducks and hearts. All fairly girly...but they're my girlfriend's, not mine.

5. Bake for 15-20 minutes (25 minutes if closer to 1/2 inch thick) or until cookies begin to become golden brown on the edges. Allow to cool before gobbling down or decorating.

For decorating the cookies, I decided to make royal icing. It’s very easy to make and ends up nice and shiny and hardened, but some people don’t like to make it because it uses raw egg whites (though you could use powdered egg whites instead). If you don’t allow the egg whites to touch the outside shell too much, then Salmonella can be avoided. The risk is not really that high in the first place. On to the icing:

Royal Icing – makes about 2 cups:

  • 2 large egg whites (room temp.)
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 1/2 to 3 cups confectioner’s sugar (sifted)

Beat the egg whites and lemon juice until combined. Add the sugar while beating on low speed, until combined and the icing is smooth, shiny and the desired consistency. It will harden quite quickly when exposed to air, so cover with plastic wrap if it isn’t going to be used right away.

We separated the icing into different portions and added food colouring to them for different coloured icings. We had pink and yellow (I know it’s girly). We put some of the icing into Ziploc bags for piping. If you want to ‘flood’ the cookies with icing (cover most of the cookie in a solid layer), add a bit of water to some of the icing to make it thinner and put it into squeeze bottles (I didn’t have any so we just spooned it on). Pipe a border with the harder icing and the ‘flood’  the cookie with the thinner icing. My piping skills are pretty much non-existent so some of the cookies weren’t that pretty, but at least they tasted pretty damn good.

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