Believe it or not, I thought I could get through the Easter holiday without decorating some sugar cookies for the occasion. First I saw Katie’s adorable bunny cookies and they weakened my resolve. Then I was looking through the pantry and glanced at a set of pastel sanding sugars. I bought them a month or two ago specifically for decorating Easter cookies. That settled it, I was making Easter cookies. I always have a blast decorating with royal icing, and this time was no exception. I did love it even more than usual though, because I think the sanding sugars took the cookies to a whole new level – taste, texture and appearance-wise. To achieve the sparkly sugar look, I just sprinkled the sugar on to the still-wet icing from flooding and it worked perfectly. Just be sure to shake off any excess before adding additional detailing, so the extra piping has a sturdy attachment point. The bunnies (or “munnies” as Andrew calls them) are just too cute! If you could use a royal icing tutorial, check mine out here.
I also had to share these because I have been playing with flavor variations on my favorite sugar cookie lately, and I have totally fallen in love with this version. I actually happened upon this by accident, when I was completing a cookie order and ran out of almond extract. I didn’t have time or energy to run to the store, so I went with what I had on hand – vanilla extract, vanilla bean, and lemon zest. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the almond version, but this is a wonderful new spin on my old favorite cookie. The tiny black flecks of vanilla bean are so pretty, and the lemon zest adds a lovely bright flavor. As if I needed another reason to make sugar cookies….
For one last fun Easter dessert idea, these baby bird cupcakes are adorable and delicious!
Lemon and Vanilla Bean White Sugar Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Zest of half a lemon (or the zest of a whole lemon, if you love lemon)
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest until blended. Mix in the flour and salt on low speed just until incorporated. Form the dough into a ball and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 1-2 hours.
When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375˚ F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough out on a well floured work surface to about ¼-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters as desired and transfer to the prepared baking sheets. Bake 8-10 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until fully cooked but not at all browned. Allow to cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Decorate as desired.