Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies with Watercolor Icing | Midwest Living

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies with Watercolor Icing

Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies with Watercolor Icing

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  • Yield: 3 to 4 dozen cookies
  • Hands On 40 mins
  • Total Time 3 hrs

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These crisp, airy cookies taste like old-fashioned bakery cookies--but they're decorated in a totally modern way that's fun and so kid-friendly. The "canvas" is royal icing, and the "paint" is just food coloring!


  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • Royal Icing
  • 3 tablespoons meringue powder or powdered egg whites
  • 4 cups (1-pound box) powdered sugar
  • 4 -6 tablespoons water
  • Gel paste food coloring (such as Wilton)
  • Vodka


  1. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and cream of tartar; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat butter and margarine with an electric mixer on medium-high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour with a wooden spoon.
  3. Divide dough in half. Flatten each portion to make 2 round disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 hours or overnight, until dough is easy to handle.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees . On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thick. Cut dough into desired shapes. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. (Reroll scraps.)
  5. Bake until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool. Decorate as desired.
  6. Royal Icing To prepare icing, in a medium bowl beat together meringue powder or powdered egg whites, powdered sugar, and water 10 minutes or until peaks form. (Use 4 tablespoons if you plan to pipe icing, or the larger amount if you plan to spread it. Adjust consistency with small amounts of water or sugar, as needed. Royal icing is quite forgiving.)
  7. To Decorate Spread tops of cooled cookies with Royal Icing. Allow icing to dry completely (overnight is ideal). Dab gel paste food coloring on a plate, like a palette, or in tiny bowls, and dilute or mix as you like, using vodka. (Unlike water, vodka evaporates quickly as it dries, so the icing won't get soggy.) Rinse brush between colors.

Nutrition Facts

(Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies with Watercolor Icing)

Riboflavin (mg) 0, Thiamin (mg) 0, vit. C (mg) 0, vit. A (IU) 206, iron (mg) 1, pro. (g) 2, calcium (mg) 5, sugar (g) 19, Potassium (mg) 26, fiber (g) 0, sodium (mg) 89, Trans fatty acid (g) 1, Cobalamin (Vit. B12) (µg) 0, Polyunsaturated fat (g) 1, Folate (µg) 24, Monounsaturated fat (g) 2, Pyridoxine (Vit. B6) (mg) 0, carb. (g) 28, Niacin (mg) 1, sat. fat (g) 2, chol. (mg) 17, Fat, total (g) 5, cal. (kcal) 168

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