It’s hard to be a Jew on Christmas, but easier when we have these epic Hanukkah sugar cookies!
I know everyone is in full-on Thanksgiving mode, but I’m all Hanukkah thanks to ModernTribe and this being our busiest week of the year! Hanukkah is less than two weeks away- show me the menorahs! I’ve told you about our epic Friendsgivings in the past (complete with photobooth and DJ), but this year will be just me and my boyfriend. And I could not be more excited. No turkey, no potatoes, no stuffing (though I am making a pumpkin pie, I’m not an animal). We are getting two delicious courses of Peking Duck at a local Chinese restaurant, which may even be more nostalgic and sentimental to me than turkey. Don’t cry for me, I got my fix from Thanksgiving Bourekas!
This reminds me of when I was studying abroad in Barcelona in college aka the best 6 months ever. No responsibility (except passing our classes) and all the time in the world to try delicious foods and explore. Five of us lived in a circular apartment (picture the bedrooms on the outside circle, bathroom and laundry in the middle, kitchen and living room at opposite ends) and would check the cheapest flights on the weekends and jet off somewhere.
We were in Italy during Thanksgiving, so instead of turkey and green bean casserole, we gorged on 10 courses of Italian delicacies, from liver pate to delicate pasta and lots of limoncello. I was so beyond full, but never felt better. We finished the night with karaoke and lots to be thankful for.
Now I’m not an expert cookie decorator, but that’s not the point with these cookies. Even the ugly ones taste good, right? Royal icing seems intimidating but it’s much easier than it looks and super fun! Make the cookies ahead of time and invite your friends over to decorate. Perfect for kids of all ages. I added some fun sayings like Oy! and I <3 U A Latke. I kept things simple with blue, white and yellow frosting, but get meshugena with toppings and colors if you must! To make the swirls, draw lines first and then run a toothpick through it to create a pattern. Fun!
- For Sugar Cookies:
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened (not melted)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- For Royal Icing:
- 2 egg whites, at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 4 cups confectioners' sugar
- 1 tablespoon or more water, room temperature
- In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until very smooth, about 3-4 minutes. Beat in egg, and vanilla and lemon zest for another 2 minutes until combined well.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture a little at a time and mix just until combined. Do not over mix.
- Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll out dough on lightly floured surface ¼ to ½ inch thick. Cut into shapes with cookie cutters of your choice. Dreidels, menorahs and Texas worked for me! Place cookies 1 inch apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment.
- Bake 7 to 10 minutes until lightly brown on the edges. Cool completely before frosting.
- To make royal icing, use an electric mixer to mix egg whites, cream of tartar and confectioners' sugar until stiff peaks form, adding water as needed, about 5 minutes. Color with food coloring if desired, put in piping bags, and use immediately. Cover icing with a damp towel when not using. Icing takes a few hours to dry completely so keep that in mind!