Sugar cookies can be very deceptive. They often fall in two categories, the ones that are all looks and no personality and the ones that actually taste good, but are a bit homely. Many a time, I have foolishly fallen for the good looking sugar cookie at a party. And no this isn’t code for anything, I’m literally talking about shallow sugar cookie here. Let’s stay focused and save the bad romance stories for another day, shall we? When I’ve found I’ve once again fallen for the bad cookie, I’m always faced with the awkward dilemma of how to dispose of it without offending anyone. Hide it under a napkin and stealthily slip it in the garbage? “Accidentally” drop it on the floor so you have to throw it away and “forget” to get another? Pretend to eat it and spit it into a napkin Seinfeld style? Honestly, dessert shouldn’t cause so much stress.
My sugar cookies have typically fallen into the homely-with-a-good-personality category, but lately I’ve been trying to step up my game and make things a little more aesthetically pleasing. These sugar cookies are the whole package: the right amount of softness and a pleasing flavor with an icing that features that winning lemon-raspberry combo. As a bonus, these cookies use butter and don’t have any food coloring which makes them even better in my book. The cookie portion of this recipe comes from my sister-in-law’s former co-worker. Previously, I had used a favorite family recipe, but the first time I made these I threw tradition out the window and haven’t gone back since. The recipe is also easily halved if you don’t intend to share them with the entire neighborhood 🙂
Sugar Cookies with Lemon Raspberry Icing
For the Cookie:
- 1 C sugar
- 1 1/2 C powdered sugar
- 4 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 C butter, at room temperature
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 4 3/4 C flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- Cream butter, cream cheese, and sugars. Beat in eggs and extracts. Combine the remaining dry ingredients. Gradually add to creamed mixture.
- Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours or overnight. (The dough performs best when completely cold.)
- Remove dough from fridge and preheat oven to 375°F.
- Roll a quarter of the dough out onto a lightly floured surface until the dough is about 1/4″ thick. (Rolling thinner will result in crunchy cookies.) Cut into shapes and place on baking sheets. (Using silpat mats or a baking stone can help the cookies more evenly cook.) Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are barely turning light brown.
- Cool for a few minutes before removing from pans to finish cooling on wire racks.
For the Icing:
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- ~ 3 C (or more) powdered sugar
- Raspberry jam
- Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice until combined.
- Add the powdered sugar and beat until combined and smooth. The icing will be fairly liquid. (According to Joy the Baker, the right consistency is “when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface for a few seconds before disappearing.”)
- Transfer a portion of the icing to a smaller bowl (~1/2 C). Cover the rest of the icing and put in the fridge. Add more powdered sugar to the small bowl (~1/4 C) until the icing is thick enough to hold it’s shape when piped.
- Spoon the icing into a pastry bag fitted with round tip and outline each cookie. (For some great visuals check out this Annie’s Eats post on How to Decorate with Royal Icing.) Let the icing set for about an hour before proceeding.
- Spoon some raspberry jam into a pasty bag with a round tip. Test how easy it is to squeeze the jam out so you know how much pressure to put on it later. (I did not have a problem with raspberry seeds clogging my tips, but you could strain them out, or just use jelly, if that was a problem.)
- Get the rest of the icing out of the fridge. Spoon a little bit of the thinned icing onto each cookie and spread to the piped edges.
- Pipe some dots of jam onto the “flooded” cookie, then swirl with a toothpick. (Annie’s Eats also has a tutorial for doing some cute hearts with this method, but my jam was a homemade version without pectin so it wasn’t thick enough to do that very well.)
- Let the icing sit for another hour.