Christmas Lights Cookies with a small batch of royal icing and mini M&Ms as Christmas Lights.
Brace yourselves. I am NOT a cute cookie decorator. However, I pushed through and made these Christmas Lights Cookies to impress my kid. Another thing I do to impress my kid every year is host a cookie decorating party. It's such a huge event, but I made a How to Host a Cookie Decorating Party for Kids post so that you can do it, too.
I saw a fuzzy photo of some cupcakes on Pinterest where they turned mini M&Ms sideways to look like Christmas lights on a string. I thought that was so cute and clever, but also: so easy, yet impressive. Big emphasis on the EASY.
If I haven't mentioned to you before, my Camille is very into M&Ms (she pronounces it yem-a-nems), and I know it's because of the bright colors. I bought a bag of mini M&Ms for this, and set to work making a small batch of cut-out sugar cookies and a small batch of royal icing.
My small batch royal icing recipe is one of my favorites!
I actually already had a perfect recipe for a small batch of cut-out sugar cookies that makes just one dozen cookies from last year. I grabbed a biscuit cutter that fell somewhere between 3 and 4" in diameter and was on my way.
The small-batch royal icing recipe was a trial and error process, because I wanted one that we could spread with a knife. I firmly believe cookies for kids should not require a pastry bag. In order to accomplish this, though, you need to make and use the royal icing right away. I scoop small spoonfuls of the icing into the center of the cookie, and then spread with an off-set spatula. The icing will spread a small amount on its own, but for the most part, it will dry in-place.
I love the crisp crunch of royal icing on a cookie, don't you?!
Making Christmas Lights Cookies with icing and M&Ms:
For the string part, I had visions of melting chocolate and squeezing it from a ziplock bag fitted with a small tip. But then, I grabbed a tube of black icing instead. The tube that specifically said it was for writing 'happy birthday' on cakes. The tip is very small, and so very much easier than melting chocolate.
If you want to make these with your kids, first grab a glass of wine. Okay, I'm kidding. But not really.
I suggest baking the cookies ahead of time and letting them cool completely before you tell your kid(s) that cookies are in the house. If I've learned anything about having a kid in the last 2.5 years, it's that you don't tell a kid something exciting is happening until it is actually happening that very second. Or, you spend 3 (or 30 hours) telling them why they have to wait.
I think a dextrous toddler could help you frost them because it doesn't require a piping bag. Have your babe(s) use a spoon to scoop dollops of frosting on each cookie, and then go behind them with an off-set spatula to spread it.
Let the cookie frosting set (bide your time by doling out mini M&Ms, if you have to). Then, pipe two thin stripes of the black frosting on each cookie. Let the person with the smallest of fingers press the mini M&Ms in place.
Now, sit back and watch your kid shove cookies into their mouth in record time. But, relax, because this recipe only makes 12 cookies and they really can't do much damage (as long as you're simultaneously shoving cookies in your face).
Happy Christmas Lights Cookie decorating day to you! If you're looking for another easy festive recipe, my Christmas Wreath Cupcakes are so cute, delicious and easy.
- ¾ cup flour, plus extra for rolling
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- pinch of salt
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
For the small-batch royal icing:
- 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 large egg white
- 1 small tube of black icing for writing
- handful mini M&Ms
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- In a medium bowl, beat together with an electric mixer the butter and sugar. Once light and fluffy, add the egg yolk and vanilla and almond extracts.
- Once well incorporated, sprinkle over half the flour mixture and beat gently until combined, then sprinkle over the rest. Beat until no streaks of flour remain, but be careful not to over-mix.
- Dust a clean counter top with flour, and dump the dough out onto it. Gather it into a ball and press it into a ½" thick round disk. Flour your rolling pin, then roll out the dough out big enough to cut out about 8 shapes. Place the shapes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Gather the dough scraps and re-roll to cut out 4 more shapes and place them on the cookie sheet. You should get 12 cookies.
- Place the cookie sheet in the freezer for the minutes while you preheat the oven to 350.
- Once the oven is hot, bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the edges of the cookies just start to turn brown. Let them sit on the sheet a few minutes before moving them a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once the cookies are cooled completely, make the royal icing: in a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice.
- Beat the egg white in a small bowl to loosen them, and then measure out 2 tablespoons of egg whites and add them to the bowl with the sugar.
- Whisk together the icing, starting slowly, and trust that the sugar will melt and it will become liquid. Resist the urge to add any more liquid to the bowl, and instead just keep whisk slowly.
- When the icing comes together, spoon a small amount onto each cookie, and use an off-set spatula to spread it almost to the edges.
- Let the royal icing harden completely on the cookies before proceeding.
- Pipe two thin black lines onto each cookie, and then press mini M&Ms sideways (see photos for reference).
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 180Total Fat: 6gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 42mgSodium: 48mgCarbohydrates: 30gFiber: 0gSugar: 23gProtein: 2g