Chocolate Sugar Cookie Advent Calendar with Cinnamon Vanilla Royal Icing
This might be my absolute favorite thing I've ever made, like squealing with excitement type thing. I, however, cannot take credit for the idea. Amy of www.constellationinpiration.com made a cookie advent calendar and posted it on her Insta and I was immediately in love. I mean I literally love everything she does but I couldn't wait to make my version of this!!
I decided to use this opportunity to make my chocolate sugar cookie recipe and jazz up the royal icing with some cinnamon and OMG, match made in heaven. It's so addicting that I can't stop eating it. Best cookies with my coffee and I'm gonna try to leave one or two for Santa but I honestly can't promise. Sorry Santa.
Also, I used the watercolor technique to paint on my cookie boxes and top of the calendar because it's just so fun! And easy!! Seriously, easy.
Ok, so I'm not gonna lie though, this project is not for the impatient. It takes some time but it isn't difficult. It just takes patience. So, if you're up for it keep reading! Otherwise the recipe is at the bottom and it can be used for any cookie cutters you want as it's my classic no spread best sugar cookie dough recipe. Daredevils, read on for holiday greatness.
First off, I found the smallest square cookie cutter I had which was about 1 inch by 1 inch. They have these at any store, like Walmart, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, or Amazon. They usually come in a set of different sized squares which is where I got mine. Then I traced out on a regular ol' piece of computer paper 25 boxes which took me a minute to figure out how I was going to make them fit best with leaving enough space in between so the cookie would hold up and not break. I ended up with about 1/4 of inch dough in between my boxes and it was perfect! I used this paper as a guide once I rolled out my dough.
The recipe below will be enough dough for this ENTIRE project, including the little "toy" cookies that go inside the boxes. My entire cookie ended up being about 12 inches wide and 15 inches tall. But again, this is all going to depend on how big your square boxes are and your cookie cutters.
For the toy cookies, I used these 4 little press style cookie cutters that I got from Michaels last year in various shapes. They add detail to the cookie itself that way I didn't have to do a ton of decorating on them. I also checked to see how they would fit in my boxes prior to baking as well. They aren't perfect but good enough and looked adorable.
After they cooled I dipped them in very thin royal icing so they wouldn't cover the the details and sprinkled a little gold dust on them and edible red glitter. Feel free to use any sprinkles you want here! Set them aside to dry completely.
Rolling out and baking your big calendar piece, use these tips.
1. I highly recommend using a silicon baking mat but parchment paper will do as well.
2. Roll out your dough on the mat and cookie sheet you're going to bake it on. Do not move your cookie around at all costs to avoid any possible cracks or breaking. Roll it out fairly thick, at minimum a 1/4 of an inch. If you go thin then it will break on you.
3. Once you have your large rectangle rolled out put it in the freezer for about 15 minutes to get it cold (NOT frozen! but just real cold). Remove it from fridge and start using your square cookie cutter to cut out your 25 squares. Use your paper as a guide here. Don't forget to leave some space at the top of your calendar to write the month and add a little decoration.
4. Bake enough! I baked mine for about 16 minutes total and it was strong enough to hold the structure but still not super crunchy and soft to eat.
4. Once your cookie is baked allow to cool COMPLETELY. Like, do not move it off the sheet or mat at all for at least an hour or two just to be on the safe side that the structure stays strong.
Once all your pieces are baked and cooled make your royal icing to a flooding consistency. Set up your work space somewhere where you know you wont have to move the cookies around until icing is dry which takes a few hours. Frost all your cookies. I kept my icing white so I could watercolor paint on them. Allow them to dry.
Once your icing is dry make your watercolors out of whatever gel colors you want to use and vodka. A few drops go a long way and I use medicine cups to make mine in. You can use any clean paint brushes you like and go wild. Use your imagination and a light hand. I freehand all mine and just go with the flow. Be creative and have fun! The paint will dry rather quickly here.
I used a stiff consistency royal icing colored green to add my details such as the word "december" and garland at the top of my calendar and piped the numbers on my boxes.
Allow everything to dry completely and assemble! My kids had so much fun with this too and then we started eating it. haha I thought I would be slightly upset breaking it to eat it but there was a weird satisfaction about it. And eating the little stick pieces of the calendar frame is really satisfying... and yummy!
Bottom line, have fun and enjoy!! Be creative and have an awesome holiday season!
P.S. This would be a hell of a treat for Christmas day dinner. Pretty sure you'd be a holiday hero...just sayin.
CHOCOLATE SUGAR COOKIE WITH CINNAMON VANILLA ROYAL ICING
PREP TIME: 1 hour
BAKE TIME:Varies for each type of cookie in project or 8-10 minutes for medium sized cookies
MAKES: Entire project above or 24 medium sized cookies
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cups cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter (1 and 1/2 sticks) at room temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2/3 cup melted chocolate (I used Nestle Tollhouse bittersweet morsels)
1 egg at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
3 tablespoons meringue powder
5 tablespoons water
4 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
TO MAKE COOKIES:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder,baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
2. In mixing bowl fitted with paddle attachment beat butter and sugar on medium until light and fluffy. Add melted chocolate and mix until combined.
3. Add egg and vanilla. Mix until combined.
4. Slowly add in flour mixture a little at a time until all combined into a cookie dough. It should pretty much all be one big ball at this point in your mixer.
FOR REGULAR COOKIE CUT OUTS:
5. Lay out 2 pieces of saran wrap, divide the dough in 2. Wrap each ball of dough in wrap, flatten slightly into a disk shape. Refrigerate for at least an hour to overnight.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
7. Once dough is chilled, remove one disk at a time and roll out dough on lightly floured surface. Roll to 1/4 inch thick. Do not go any thinner that that. Try not to over handle dough. Use cookie cutters to cut out any shapes you want and transfer to parchment lined baking sheet. You could also use a silicon baking mat on a baking sheet too. Place dough back in fridge after rolling and use your other chilled disk during that time.
8. Bake 8-10 minutes until just slightly golden brown on bottom edges. Allow to cool on mat for at least 5 minutes until transferring to a cooling rack so they don't break on you.
9. Repeat and bake the rest of your cookies.
10. Allow them to cool completely before icing and decorating.
11. Store them in airtight container.
FOR ADVENT CALENDAR PROJECT ABOVE: *See above post for further details*
5. Lay out 1 big piece of saran wrap and place dough inside. Flatten into a disk, wrap, and place in fridge for an hour to chill.
6. Roll out dough for calendar piece on silicon mat and cut into desired rectangle size.
7. Place back in fridge/freezer to chill again for about 15-20 minutes. Remove and use square cutter to cut 25 squares creating your calendar shape.
8. Bake in preheated oven of 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely and DO NOT remove from sheet or mat until then. If you move it while warm it could break.
9. Bake 25 squares separately on their own cookie sheet lined with a silicon mat or parchment paper for 6-7 minutes. Allow to cool.
10. Use remaining dough to make your little "toy" pieces. Bake until done.
11. After everything is cooled, decorate as described in post above.
12. Assemble and enjoy!
TO MAKE ROYAL ICING:
1. In mixing bowl fitted with whisk attachment, mix meringue powder, water, vanilla, and cinnamon until combined.
2. Stop mixer and add 1 cup of powdered sugar at a time so that it doesn't make a huge mess. You can also cover your mixing bowl with a kitchen towel to help with any sugar clouds. Once combined you can remove whisk attachment and bowl from mixer. Keep covered with plastic wrap when not using.
3. Water down to desired consistency in small batches, color and use as you'd like to decorate you cookies.
4. See above in post for more details and royal icing info. You can also go here for tips on flooding and decorating.