snow covered holly leaf cut out sugar cookies
Pearl sugar atop royal icing decorated sugar cookies makes these holly leaves look like they came from a snowy winter wonderland.
If you’re looking for cookie cutters that stand out from the usual Christmas shapes, try using holly leaves this year. I pair holly leaf cookies with red Cadbury chocolate in place of holly berries and they are always a hit. These Holly Leaf Cut Out Sugar Cookies look like they were picked straight from a winter wonderland with their stunning dusting of pearl sugar.
These cookies are super forgiving when decorating so they are a great place to start if you’re new to working with royal icing. Imperfections will be hidden once dipped in the pearl sugar and these cookies are so delicious that recipients will love them regardless of appearance. Think outside of the box with these stunning winter wonderland Holly Leaf Cut Out Sugar Cookies.
- 3¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 2½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 2 pounds (one bag) confectioners' sugar
- 5 tablespoons meringue powder
- 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ¾ cup warm water
- Swedish pearl sugar
- In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Add egg, milk, and vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Gradually mix in flour mixture until fully incorporated and a soft dough is formed.
- Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to a few days.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Break off manageable pieces of dough and roll between two sheets of wax paper to ¼-inch thick. Peel back top layer of wax paper, gently replace, and flip over. Remove bottom layer of wax paper (now top) and cut dough into desired shapes.
- Refrigerate pans of cut out cookies for 15 minutes prior to baking to prevent spreading.
- Transfer cut outs to prepared baking sheets and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 8-9 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
- Cool on sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack to cool completely before packaging or decorating.
- Place confectioners' sugar and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Mix on lowest setting for a few seconds to combine.
- Mix almond extract with water and slowly pour into confectioners' sugar while mixing on low speed.
- Once all water is added, increase speed to high and mix for 2-4 minutes until light, fluffy, and soft peaks form. Store in an airtight container at room temperature in this stage until ready to use.
- When ready to decorate, gradually add warm water to prepared icing, stirring constantly until desired consistency is reached. A dropper or spray bottle is best for adding water a little at a time because a little goes a long way.
- For outlining and detail work, I look for a consistency about the same as toothpaste. For flooding, the consistency should be similar to shampoo.
- Transfer to piping bags fitted with decorating tips to decorate cookies.
- Outline cookies with thicker royal icing using a #1 tip. Once all cookies are outlined, flood with thinner royal icing using a #2 tip and immediately dip in pearl sugar to coat.
- Allow cookies to dry completely, about 24 hours, before packaging for gifting or storing in an airtight container.