Following are the recipes I use most often for both icing and cookies.

Royal Icing

Royal Icing is used in three consistencies: outline (stiff), base (spreadable) and flow (runny).

Outline Consistency:

  • 2 Cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon meringue powder
  • 3 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon room temperature water

Directions: Mix the meringue powder and water together. Whisk until frothy. Sift in the confectioner’s sugar. With a hand mixer, beat for 3 to 5 minutes, until smooth. Put in an airtight container until ready to use.

For Base Consistency:

Use 4 Tablespoons of water.

For Flow Consistency:

Use 5 tablespoons of water.

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Cookie Recipes

These are the three recipes I use consistently for my cutout cookies. I’ve tried many others, but I’ve found these three yield the best results in terms of taste and sturdiness.

Basic Sugar Cookies (with a hint of orange)

Adapted from Nick Malgieri’s Cookies Unlimited

  • 3 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 16 Tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 Cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tablespoon finely grated orange zest (grate just before squeezing juice)
  • 1 Tablespoon strained orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons heavy whipping cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about five minutes. Add the egg and orange zest, beating until smooth.
  4. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then beat in all the orange juice and cream, one at a time. Beat in the remaining flour.
  5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it’s 1/8-inch thick. Cut cookies and set on baking sheet.
  6. Bake the cookies for about 9-10 minutes, or until they first become dull and dry-looking, slightly browned on the edges and feel slightly firm when pressed with a fingertip. Be careful not to overbake these cookies or they will be very dry.

*Note: I use the zest and juice of an entire orange when making this dough to give it a little more punch. Also, I omitted the heavy cream from the recipe years ago to get a very sturdy cookie. It works for me, and, it doesn’t compromise the taste of the cookie at all.

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Gingerbread Cutout Cookies

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Parties and Projects for the Holidays

  • 3 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 Cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 Cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
  • Grated zest of one orange
  • Grated zest of one lemon


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, allspice and salt. Whisk to combine.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter for 30 seconds, add the granulated sugar and dark brown sugar, and beat until fluffy. Add egg and corn syrup. Mix well.
  3. Add half of the dry ingredients to butter mixture. Mix until well combined. Add remaining dry ingredients and orange and lemon zests; continue mixing until well combined.
  4. Cover and chill the dough for about one hour, or until firm.
  5. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out doug to 1/4 inch thick, cut out shapes, and place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 3/4 inch apart. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes until edges start to brown and when touched lightly, they don’t spring back.
  6. Transfer to a cooling rack; let cool. Gather scrapes into a ball, cover with plastic, and re-chill for 30 minutes. Roll out again and repeat cutting and baking until all of the dough is used.
  7. Decorate as you want.

Note: This dough produces a very tasty and very firm cookie. For holiday shapes like trees and snowflakes, it’s perfect.

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Obama Flag Cookie

Cookie-Cutter Chocolate Cookies

from Great Cookies by Carole Walter


  • 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tablespoons strained Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, slightly firm
  • 1 Cup superfine sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1/2 teaspoon boiling water
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted


  1. Strain together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  2. In the large bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter on medium-low speed until is creamy and lightened in color. Add the sugar in a steady stream, mixing for 2 minutes to combine. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and espresso mixture. Scraped down the side of the bowl as needed, then mix in the melted cheese.
  3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and blend in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing only to combine after each addition. Remove the dough from the bowl and divide in half. Form into two 3 by 4 inch rectangles and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
  4. Position the shelves in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper or a Silpat liner.
  5. Sprinkle a pastry cloth and rolling pin with confectioners’ sugar, rubbing it well into the weave. Working with one piece of dough at a time roll it into a rectangle 3/16 inch thick. cut into desired shapes. Place the cutouts on the cookie sheets.
  6. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until the cookies feel set on top. To ensure even baking, toward the end of baking time, rotate the sheets from top to bottom and front to back. Let cookies rest on the sheet for 2 minutes before loosening with a thin metal spatula. Cool on wire racks.
  7. Storage: Store in an airtight container, layered between strips of wax paper, for up to 3 weeks. These cookies maybe frozen.

Note: Unless you have some kind of superpowers, you’ll have trouble measuring 3/16-inch thickness. I usually roll out to 1/8 of an inch. Use a standard ruler to measure the thickness of your cookies, or, find a rolling pin with bands on it that helps you roll your dough to the right thickness (available at baking/cooking supply stores).