Sugar cookies are good any time of the year, but I always make a batch for Chanukah. While they aren’t fried in oil as most Chanukah foods are, they are a great addition to the holiday. Typically, I bake these with butter, but if you need or would like to keep them dairy-free, you can substitute the butter with a good, non-hydrogenated vegan margarine or butter substitute.
My recipe comes out of my cookie cookbook, Pam’s Cookie Collection and it’s the exact recipe I used for years while in the food business. I used it for Chanukah cookies, Christmas cookies that were served for hundreds at our City Hall, or cut and decorated like flowers to sell out of my restaurant to celebrate the arrival of spring — and for so many more occasions!
I come from a family of artists but I can’t paint or draw anything 😦 . But decorating sugar cookies is something I can do! I love sitting at the kitchen table with trays of cookies, pastry bags filled with an entire rainbow of royal icings, and bowls of decorating sugars and sprinkles.
Don’t get stressed out about decorating – just be creative and have fun!
These cookies freeze well, in an airtight container, but freeze them before decorating. When you’re ready to decorate, thaw completely. Once decorated, let them sit out on baking sheets until the icing is completely dry. They can then be kept in a cookie jar or airtight container on the counter for several days.
Chanukah Cookies AKA Sugar Cookies
- Sugar Cookie Ingredients:
- 6 oz. / 170 grams softened butter or margarine (¾ cup)
- 8 oz. / 225 grams granulated sugar (1 cup)
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ½ tsp. vanilla
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp. salt
- 12 ½ oz. / 355 grams flour (2 ½ cup)
- 12 oz. / 340 grams powdered sugar (3 cups)
- 4 ½ tsp. meringue powder
- 1 tsp. vanilla
- ¼ to ½ cup water
Royal Icing Ingredients:
- For the cookies: In a stand mixer with a paddle, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla and mix well.
- Add the baking powder and salt and mix through. Add the flour and mix on low until the flour has just mixed in and a soft dough forms. Divide the dough into two sections, flatten into disks and wrap each section in plastic. Refrigerate until firm — 1 to 2 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF / 175°C.
- Unwrap one section of dough and roll on a lightly floured work-surface until it’s approximately ⅛-inch thick. Use cookie cutters to cut cookies and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. You can collect the scraps and re-roll them.
- You can bake two trays at a time on the middle racks of the oven for 7 minutes. Turn the trays, switch their positions and bake another 6-8 minutes or until the edges just start to turn golden brown.
- Cool completely. Freeze without icing. Thaw completely before icing.
- For the icing: Use the whip attachment in a stand mixer to start mixing the sugar, meringue powder, vanilla and ¼-cup water on low. Once everything is combined, slowly turn the machine up to high and whip the icing until it’s smooth and glossy.
- If the icing is too dry or thick, add more water slowly, until it’s the right consistency. If it’s too loose, add a little more powdered sugar. The icing should be loose enough to pipe, but stiff enough to hold its shape once it’s on the cookie.
- Divide the icing into several small bowls and use whatever food dye you like to tint the icing. You can either use a knife to spread the icing onto the cookies, or use small piping bags to decorate.
- Leave the decorated cookies on the counter uncovered to dry for several hours. Once dried, the cookies can be kept in an air-tight container for several days.