When planning a menu, I always think about the dessert first (clearly I have a very serious sweet tooth). In anticipation of my favorite holiday, I just had to make 4th of July cookies. The design was inspired by the July 2011 Martha Stewart magazine cover, but I used my own recipe. The cookies were a big hit at the BBQ I brought them to. Plus, who can't help but feel patriotic when taking a bite out of red, white and blue?

Firework Cookies

Serving: 28-34 cookies | Preheat oven to 375ºF

Cut Out Cookie Dough:
1/2 cup butter, salted
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Royal Icing:
2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Food coloring, red and blue

Make the Dough:
1. Prepare the cookie dough by creaming together the butter and sugar.
2. Add the eggs and mix. Then add the flour slowly until all is combined.
3. Add the baking powder and vanilla. Mix well.
4. Chill the dough at least 30 minutes in the fridge.
5. Roll out the dough onto a surface dusted with powdered sugar (also dust the rolling pin and cookie cutter with powdered sugar). Cut out shapes using a circe shaped cookie cutter.
6. Place on a lightly greased or buttered cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 7-10 minutes until bottoms are a light gold color.
8. Let cool completely before decorating.

Make the Royal Icing:
1. As the cookies are cooling, begin making the icing.
2. Using your electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice.
3. Add the sifted powdered sugar a bit at a time until combined and smooth.
4. Put a quarter of the icing in a bowl and mix in the red food coloring. Do the same with the blue in a separate bowl. Leave the remaining half of the icing white.
5. Put the red and blue icing into their own piping bags with a fine nozzle tip.

1. Using a small palate knife (or a butter knife if you don't have one), spread the white royal icing evenly across the top of the cookie.
2. Immediately pipe a dot in the center of the cookie. Then pipe concentric rings, alternating colors or staying with the same color, around the dot.
3. Immediately drag a toothpick through the colors. Drag out from the center dot to the edge. Then alternate and drag from the outer edge in to create a burst effect. Wipe toothpick clean between each drag.
4. Repeat with remaining cookies.
5. Let the icing dry before serving, stacking or storing.

• Once the icing is made, it needs to be used immediately or transferred to an airtight container otherwise it will harden.
• When working with the white icing, put a damp wash cloth over the bowl. It will prevent the mixture from hardening as you are piping and create the design on each cookie.
• Work on decorating one cookie at a time. If you frost all of them with the white icing and then try and go back to pipe/drag the toothpick through, the white icing will have hardened and will not properly work. Thus, it is best to spread the icing, pipe, then drag the toothpick on one cookie before going on to the next.

{photos by Julia Ferguson of Room for Dessert}


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