Buttery, crisp sugar cookies are welcome at any time of year. Fail-safe and endlessly adaptable, here they are decorated with Royal icing before edible transfer paper adds the final festive touch.
Buttery sugar cookies decorated with Royal Icing are a delicious blank canvas for pictures of charming chicks—perfect for Easter.
- 454 g or 1 c unsalted butter, softened
- 200 g or 1 c granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 5 ml or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 360 g or 3 c unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 454 g or 4 c confectioner’s sugar
- 28 g or 3 tbsp Meringue Powder
- 120 g or ½ c warm water (plus more for thinning)
- Clear piping gel or clear corn syrup
Make the cookies
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix, or the cookies may spread while baking. Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. If your mixture does not come together and is crumbly, add ice cold water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough clumps. Form the dough into two flat, round disks and wrap tightly with cling film. Chill for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to ¼” thickness. Cut it into rectangles approximately ½” larger than your edible wafers and transfer them to the prepared pans. Re-roll scraps with a piece of fresh dough as needed.
Chill the shapes in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Bake cookies until the cookies are lightly brown on the edges (12–15 minutes). Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Make the icing
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the confectioner’s sugar and meringue powder to eliminate any lumps. Switch to the paddle attachment, add the water, and beat on slow speed until icing forms (8-10 minutes). Let the icing sit for 15 minutes to an hour to allow air bubbles to dissipate.
Mix in drops of water until the icing thins to flood consistency—thick and pourable like a milkshake. Also called 10-second icing, it’s the correct consistency when you can run a spatula or knife through the icing, and the indention disappears by the count of 10. Drape a damp tea towel over the mixing bowl to prevent the icing drying out.
Partially fill a disposable piping bag or a zip-top bag with a tiny hole snipped in the end. Pipe a line of frosting around the outer edge of the cookies. Let stand for 1 minute. Flood the inside of the shape with more icing until the cookie is completely covered and smooth. You may need to drag a toothpick or skewer through the icing to remove air bubbles and ensure uniform coverage.
Let stand until dry (at least 4 hours or overnight).
Assemble the cookies
- Apply a thin coating of clear piping gel or corn syrup to the underside of an edible wafer. Gently press it onto the cookie’s surface, smoothing with a fondant smoother or spatula. Turn upside down onto a parchment-lined baking sheet to ensure uniform adherence to the transfer paper. Repeat with the remaining wafers and cookies.
- Allow the cookies to dry completely (several hours).