Firework Sugar Cookies

Why do magazines remind you that your subscription is expiring, SEVEN months before it actually does? I started getting renewal notifications attached to my Martha Stewart Living back in December, even though I had my subscription through June. Irked that Martha was possibly trying to weasel more money out of me, I ignored them. And ignored them. And ignored them. I knew when my subscription was up! I didn’t need a bold red “LAST CHANCE” stamped onto my magazine to remind me. Well. Maybe I did. Because once June rolled around, I completely forgot to actually renew. No new Martha waiting in the mailbox for me this month. And of course, this would be the month that I absolutely fall in love with what’s on the cover and want to make it immediately.

As soon as I saw the new issue sitting on the newsstand at work, I knew I had to make the firework cookies! A chance to play around with royal icing, try a new cutout cookie recipe, and make a festive 4th of July treat? Yes, please! Plus, they’d be the perfect cookies to share with my coworkers, who have been lamenting that I’ve neglected them lately by not bringing anything in.

They ended up being really easy to make, and tasted pretty good too. The cookie dough was softer than my normal cut out cookie dough, but ended up cutting out just as well, and stayed softer after baking too. I’ll have to try it again with shapes other than circles to see if it holds the shapes as well as the other too—I might be making a switch! And the royal icing is actually a lot easier than it looks!

Pipe the background color of royal icing onto the cookie. Outline around the cookie, making sure your icing is thick enough to hold a line, otherwise it’ll run off the edges into a puddle. (My icing was a bit on the thin side this time and that happened more than once to me. Oops!) Then fill in the center part of the cookie. (For a great video on not only outlining and filling, but icing consistency and marbling, check out Sweetopia.)

While the background color is still wet, pipe circles onto the cookie with the other colors. They should sink into the background color. (Give it a little shake back and forth to help it along if they don’t sink right away.)

Drag a skewer or a toothpick through the wet icing to marble. For this cookie, I went in opposite directions, dragging my skewer up from the center, then moving it over a bit and dragging it back down again.

Continue around the cookie until it’s completely done, and there you have it—a pretty Firework!

Mine aren’t nearly as perfect and pretty as Martha’s but I still love them! And they’re probably the only fireworks I’ll get this year, since I have to work the whole weekend up to the 4th. Hope everyone else has a great holiday weekend though!

Firework Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living July 2011
Makes about 30 cookies

2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for surface
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla to combine. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture.
3. Divide dough in half and form into disks. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 325F. Roll out each disk of dough to a scant ¼-inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles, rerolling scraps once. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone baking mats. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
5. Bake until edges just start to brown, 17 to 19 minutes. Allow to cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, decorate with royal icing.

Royal Icing
Adapted from Bake at 350 and Sweetopia
Makes enough to cover 30 cookies

2 tablespoons meringue powder
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Scant 1/4 cup of water*
1/8 teaspoon almond extract (or another clear extract)
Food coloring
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon light corn syrup (optional)

*Not quite up to the full 1/4 cup. If it helps, fill it up to the line, then take out a 1/2 teaspoon of it.

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer on low, mix together meringue powder, confectioners’ sugar, water, and extract. (Once combined, add the corn syrup if using.) Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 3 minutes. It will still look a little runny, and but should hold a line drawn through it with a knife for 5 to 10 seconds. If it rushes back in less than 5 seconds, beat a little longer. If it holds the line for more than 10 seconds, add a small amount of water to the icing and beat until it is combined, testing until it reaches the right consistency.
2. Divide icing into bowls and add food coloring, mixing until color is completely incorporated. Fill a piping bag fitted with a small round tip.
3. Working with one cookie at a time, pipe the outline on your cookie, holding the tip about a ½-inch above the cookie and letting the icing fall onto the cookie around the edges of your shape. Once it is outlined, with the tip right up against the cookie, pipe icing right up against the outline you just made. Then begin to fill the cookie with icing, using a zigzag pattern (or whatever works for you.) Once the cookie is filled, shake it back and forth a couple times to smooth out the icing.
4. While the background is still wet, pipe circles using the other colors onto the cookie, shake gently back and forth to allow colors to sink and smooth out icing.
5. Using a skewer or a toothpick, drag through wet icing to create the pattern.
6. Place on wire rack or cookie sheet and allow icing to dry completely overnight.
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