Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Silver Bell Sugar Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

A great sugar cookie recipe that actually keeps its shape when baked. Mix up your sparkling sugar decorations using both crystal white and silver to make your silver bell sugar cookies really shine. And don't forget the silver dragées for the clappers.

If you look back through my recipe archives, there is not a single cookie that’s been rolled and cut out with a cookie cutter to be baked and decorated. Not one. And in last five and half years I have shared 53 cookie recipes. I just counted.

When my girls lived at home, baking sugar cookies was a fun activity year-round but we really got into them – and making gingerbread men to decorate - just before Christmas. A couple of summers ago, I invited my small nieces over for a sugar cookie baking/decorating session where as many sprinkles were consumed directly as were put on cookies. But we had a lot of fun!

And since they didn't care about anyone else's idea of perfection, their cookies were fabulous and creative and beautiful.

Tip: For children (or adults who need more encouragement), fill squeezy bottles with the royal icing. They are much easier to handle than piping bags.

I’ve finally figured out that what I mind about making these things is not the time or the patience they require but the lack of company in my kitchen. So here’s my recommendation to you. Put on the holiday tunes. Mix up a batch (or two) and invite some friends or family over to decorate with you. Of course, you don’t have to make silver bell sugar cookies. Use your own favorite cookie cutters and colored sprinkles. And while this is a great time of the year to get together, sugar cookie baking sessions can be fun all year round.

Ingredients for about 40 small cookies
For the cookies:
1/2 cup or 113g unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
1/2 cup or 100g granulated sugar
White of large egg, at room temperature (about 40g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups or 218g all-purpose flour, plus a bit more if needed for rolling
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the royal icing:
1 1/4 cups or 156g powdered sugar + more as needed
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
pinch salt
1 egg white (about 40g)

Important: Uncooked egg whites should not be served to anyone with a compromised immune system, unless those whites are from pasteurized eggs. Substitute an equivalent combination of powdered egg whites and water, according to the package instructions.

For decorating:
Assorted sprinkles
Silver dragées for the bell clapper, if desired

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, soften the butter by beating it for a minute or so. Add in the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, scraping down the bowl occasionally, as needed.

Add in the egg white and vanilla and beat again until they are fully incorporated.

Add in the flour a bit at a time until it is completely mixed in and you have a soft dough that is firm enough to roll out.

Divide the dough into two pieces and roll them each out on parchment paper until they are about 1/4 in or 1/2 cm thick. Sprinkle on a tiny bit more flour if you must to keep the dough from sticking to your rolling pin. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least one hour or until ready to bake.

Preheat your oven to 350°F or 180°C.

Line your baking sheets with more parchment or silicon liners. If they are well chilled you can put these cookies fairly close together as they should not spread or puff very much. Well-chilled is key. 

Remove one rolled dough circle from the refrigerator and cut out your cookies with a cookie cutter. Use a flat spatula to transfer them quickly to the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to brown.

Remove and leave to cool completely before decorating. Continue the process until all the dough has been cut out and baked.

NOTE: Always add newly cut cookies to a cool lined cookie sheet before baking. Putting them on a hot pan will cause the butter to melt out prematurely. Having two or three pans to rotate is helpful.

Once the cookies are completely cooled, make the royal icing. Sift the powdered sugar, cream of tartar and pinch of salt into a mixing bowl.

Add in the egg white (see important note above) and whisk it in a little at a time from the middle, until all is incorporated.

Partially mixed in. Just keep whisking from the sides until all is incorporated.
Check the consistency of the icing by lifting your whisk and allowing it to drip back into the bowl. Too runny? Add more powdered sugar. Too firm? Add a drop or two of water. You want to be able to pipe it but have it keep its shape.

Spoon some of the icing into your piping bag fitted with a #3 tip. Pipe a royal icing outline of the cookie and pop on a silver dragée for the clapper, if using.

Outline all of the cookies and leave the royal icing to harden before you move on to the next step.

Cover the royal icing bowl with a piece of damp paper towel, then cling film and refrigerate. When the outlines are hard, remove the royal icing from the refrigerator so it can warm up a bit, and stir to loosen up.

Set up your decorating station putting one small saucer for each color of sprinkle or decoration you are using. This will allow you to reunite the sprinkles that fall off with their similarly colored brethren when all this is over.

Put the cookie in the first saucer and use a spoon to add a puddle of royal icing into the middle of the cookie. Spread it around right up to the hard outlines with a toothpick or even a clean paintbrush.

Add some sprinkles. Shake the cookie so loose sprinkles fall back in the saucer.

Move the cookie to the second saucer and add the next color sprinkles. Shake the cookie so loose sprinkles fall back in that saucer.

And so on.

Place finished cookies in a safe place where they can dry until completely hardened before trying to stack, package or transport them.


This month my Creative Cookie Exchange group is sharing decorated cookies, perfect for the holidays or whatever you feel like celebrating!

Creative Cookie Exchange is hosted by Laura of The Spiced Life. We get together once a month to bake cookies with a common theme or ingredient so Creative Cookie Exchange is a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts at The Spiced Life. We post the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month!

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