Cookies and Bars

Christmas Cookie Icing

by Shawnda on December 7, 2012

in Christmas,Cookies and Bars

Sugar Cookie Icing

You know what the best part of decorating cookies is? That moment right before you actually start making the icing. Everything is clean, lined up, and ready to go. Because by the time that the icing is done, all bags and bottles have been filled with each color, and the cookies are spread out… the place is a complete disaster.

Sugar Cookie Icing

And that’s just the island.

Sugar Cookie Icing Sugar Cookie Icing

But it’s always a ton of fun and The Little gets a kick out of “painting” with “mommy’s tools.”

I don’t love royal icing so I opted to try a recommended nonroyal sugar cookie icing. It behaves pretty much exactly like royal icing, only it dries glossier (which I failed to capture, but it does). And it doesn’t have that funky royal icing smell that I associate with meringue powder. You outline, flood, and add detail.

Sugar Cookie Icing

And spend the rest of the night quoting A Christmas Story. You’ll shoot your eye out! I can’t put my arms down! Ohhhhh Fuuuuuuudge.

And if your husband is 3 weeks deep into Cousin-Eddie-from-Christmas-Vacation quotes, he probably won’t even roll his eyes once :)

Sugar Cookie Icing

The downside – the plain white icing less opaque than plain royal icing. This is where, if you haven’t before, you might just see the value in white food coloring. I didn’t have any and thought it looked pretty good after drying.

The recipe for the cookies you see above is my very favorite cut-out sugar cookie recipe. It’s a shortbread-sugar cookie hybrid from The Pastry Queen. It’s delicious and doesn’t overly spread or puff when you bake it.

And the leg lamp came from a homebrew cookie cutter – I simply found a picture online of a leg lamp, scaled it to a better size, printed it, and traced it onto a piece of cardboard reclaimed from soda fridge pack box. And I saved $10 by not buying a cookie cutter. (Although I’d happily spring for the cookie cutter if I were making more than just a few of these.)

Homemade Leg Lamp Cookie Cutter

I found the original icing recipe size to be far too small for decorating – but it probably would have been fine for just dipping cookies. We made a double batch of the recipe you see below to decorate 2 dozen cookies with several colors and had almost nothing leftover.

Sugar Cookie Icing

An alternative to royal icing that makes equally pretty decorations on cut-out sugar cookies.


  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp milk (plus more to adjust consistency)
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp corn syrup (plus more to adjust consistency)
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Gel food colorings (I use Americolor)


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, corn syrup, and extract until uniform.
  2. You may find this mixture to be far too thick even for outlining (I sure did) so add equal parts of milk & corn syrup until the consistency is right (I needed 1 1/2 tsp more of each).
  3. Divide between bowls and color the frosting.
  4. Transfer to a piping bag, candy bottle, or my favorite - a small sandwich baggie fitted with a coupler and tip (I use Wilton #1-2 for outlining, 2-3 for detail).


Yields: Enough frosting to decorate 12 cookies in 4-5 colors

Source: AllRecipes

Estimated time: 10 minutes



Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Some little known facts about me:

Before retiring a couple of years ago – or maybe I’m just on sabbatical, I haven’t decided yet – I was a project manager in the tech industry. My clients made iThingies and super expensive servers and magical photo editing software that lets you zap that jerky ex-boyfriend out of any photo and replace him with any Hollywood or NFL cutie (I vote the latter). I miss it. But only sometimes. Usually when my kid has a set of molars coming in.

I never soften butter for baking recipes. Ever. Those recipes that call for a softened stick of butter? I throw a straight-from-the-fridge stick of butter in the mixer bowl and just turn it on medium-high while I get the rest of the ingredients out. I’m just gonna cream the heck out of it anyway, right?

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

We named our daughter after the greatest NFL coach of all time. And the most annoying female character on Lost of all time.

I’ve never been as sick, so often, in my previous 33 years than I have been over the last 11 months. Ever. My daughter started preschool 11 months ago. These things are not unrelated. I’m almost certain that her school hires the Outbreak monkey to clean her classroom with dirty needles and used Kleenexes at the end of the school day.

As the daughter of two bakers and a reformed bakery brat myself – I still have that dream a couple of times a month where I’ve overslept and didn’t get to the bakery in time to bake croissants and muffins – I know better than to ever, ever want to open my own bakery. The hours. The overhead. The hours! No thanks. And any job that actually makes you hate the smell of baked goods should be illegal.

And when giving the choice between every fancy dessert in the world and a warm chocolate chip cookie, I’ll take the cookie 9/10 times – there’s no such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Okay, that’s not true. Remind me to tell you about the one time my mom opened the cabinet door and the canister of garlic salt came tumbling down into the mixer bowl. Those were turrible. But you know what I mean.

As long as you mostly follow directions – and don’t add 1/4 cup of garlic salt – you’re going to get a good chocolate chip cookie. But you can make a good chocolate chip cookie even better and that’s what we did here. We replaced half the butter with peanut butter, used more chocolate than we were supposed to, and added peanuts.

They’re gigantic and the perfect combination of chewy cookie, chocolate, and peanut butter.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Perfectly thick and chewy peanut butter chocolate chunk cookies studded with peanuts.


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (softened... or not)
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups + 2 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 16 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 cup unsalted peanuts chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Cream the butter and peanut butter together until uniform.
  3. Add sugars and cream 2-3 minutes, until fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time followed by the vanilla.
  5. Stir together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
  6. Add to the mixer bowl and mix just until blended.
  7. Add the chocolate chunks and nuts to the bowl, mixing until distributed. The dough will be very stiff and even a little crumbly.
  8. Divide the dough into 16 balls, approximately 4 oz each (think larger than a golf ball; a 2.5-inch scoop will do the trick perfectly) and place on a lined baking pan.
  9. Chill the dough for 20 minutes (you can also freeze dough at this point). Bake 6 cookies per pan (they're huge!) for 18-22 minutes or until browned on the edges and just set in the center.
  10. Let cool for 10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
  11. They'll keep several days in an airtight container or zip top bag.


Yields: ~16 cookies

Adapted from Levain Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

Estimated time: 45 minutes



Cherry Pie Bars

I was super excited to see the recipe that Amanda selected for this week’s Project Pastry Queen challenge: Blackberry Pie Bars.

Redemption. Sweet, cherry-studded redemption.

Because the last time I made them, I totally bonked the recipe. Hard. There would be no bonking this time!

I made a few changes this go ’round:
– I actually read the recipe before getting started. Knowledge is power, people.
– I made half the recipe in an 8×8 pan with halved fresh cherries.
– I reduced the sugar by 1/3 and used fat-free Greek yogurt in place of the sour cream.
– I only reduced the almond extract by 25% from the full recipe. Because almond extract is magical, especially when paired with cherries.

The shortbread crust makes these bars a cookie-cobbler-pie hybrid. The almond extract and cherry-studded middle layer is a glass of milk away from heaven. The best part? No forks required. So grab a bag of cherries while you still can and give this one ago!