A Nerd In The Kitchen–Iced Sugar Cookies

You really can't eat just one.

You really can’t eat just one.


     Back in the 70’s, my mom started a tradition of baking sugar cookies every Christmas. Working a full-time job, she didn’t mess around with mixing up her own dough, but instead used Pillsbury Slice & Bake cookies, which is still available today. She turned those cookies up a notch with homemade icing.  I have no idea where she got the recipe–probably from a magazine. Wherever it came from, we still make these cookies 3 or 4 times every year.

     Ever since my daughter was about three, my wife and I have been whipping up batches of these cookies for her to take to daycare, then her school on special occasions. We’ve done Christmas, Halloween, Valentines Day, and even Easter. My kids have now been at the same school since K-4 with the same classmates for several years now.  Apparently, my sugar cookies are legendary and both my kids start getting requests from their buddies that I send a batch around this time every year.

     Most recently, my daughter asked if I would whip up a couple dozen for her birthday last week, since her school allows kids to bring treats for the entire class to eat at lunchtime. Being so close to Halloween, we went with that for a theme.

     Apparently, they were a big hit, with nary a crumb left over. Given they’re so easy, really tasty, and can score you some easy Mom/Dad points, I thought I’d share the process.

Step One: Bake The Cookies

     Bake the cookies per the instructions on the dough.  A couple of notes though…It’s called “refrigerated” dough, but we keep it in the freezer.  That may or may not affect cooking time, but we find it makes the dough easier to slice.

     Make sure you cut the slices in as uniform thicknesses as possible which is not as easy as it sounds.  Obviously a really thin slice is going to cook faster than a thick one, and you’ll either end up with overcooked or raw cookies, and that would be bad.

     Once the cookies have cooled enough to remove from the baking sheet, you can start icing them.  I usually make the icing while the first batch is in the oven.

Step Two: Make The Icing

     As I said earlier, I have no idea where this recipe originated and I haven’t Googled it because I don’t really want to know.  I enjoy a little mystery in my life. Whoever came up with it, it couldn’t be easier, and being basically pure sugar, the Type 2 Diabetic in me finds it pretty tasty.  All you need are four ingredients:

Powdered (Confectioners Sugar)
Vanilla extract
Food coloring

     I usually like to make four colors of icing. So get four coffee mugs and fill them up about 3/4 of the way with powdered sugar.  Next, add about 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, and then the food coloring.  You can always add more color after the milk is added if you want a deeper shade.

     Finally, add a dash of milk.  Your goal here is icing, not soup, and a little bit goes a long way, so add a little milk at a time & stir as  you go.  If the icing is still dry/powdery, add a dash of milk until you have the right consistency.  If you go too far and end up with runny icing, just add a little more powdered sugar to thicken things up.

Step Three: Time to Decorate

     Use a butter knife to frost the cookies.  You want to do these one at a time because the icing firms up pretty quickly, so you want to ice, then put on your sprinkles so they sink down into the icing before it sets.

      One of the keys to making these cookies a success, is getting everything to harden up after they’ve been iced. I used to put the finished cookies down on the counter on top of wax paper, but this tends to inhibit that process by trapping in moisture on the bottom of the cookie.  Now we just use various large plastic cookie platters we’ve acquired. Since we tend to make these cookies in the cooler months, we usually set them in my wife’s mini-van overnight and that always does the trick. In the morning, you can put them in a Tupperware container or cookie tin.  It may sound like a bit of a handle, but if you just stack them in a container right after icing them, they will stick together and you’ll have some ugly cookies and then you won’t become a cookie legend at your kid’s school.

     Well, that’s it for me and this installment of uber-manliness.  Enjoy your cookies, and until next time…stay nerdy my friends.

Copyright 2013 It Came From The Nerd Cave