Sugar Cookies with Marbled Glaze
No piping skillz, no worries! These Sugar Cookies with Marbled Glaze are classically delicious and uncommonly pretty. Even I can decorate them.
My mom is a fabulous cake decorator. She doesn’t do it professionally, but she could. In our youth, my brother and I were treated to beautifully decorated birthday cakes and holiday cookies all done by my mom’s artistic mind and steady hand.
I did not inherit that gene.
I’m terrible at cookie decorating. My kids do a better job than I do. When I first saw marbled glaze, I thought no way am I doing that.
Marbled glaze is a frosting technique. It is similar to the mirror glaze used on cakes. However, mirror glaze involves gelatin and dries to a shiny finish, hence the name.
The marbly one used on cookies is royal white icing, made from powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Plus a little vodka if you are naughty. Food coloring is swirled into the icing, then the top of the cookie is dipped into the icing creating a marbled effect.
Well, curiosity got the best of me. The swirly glaze is so beautiful and I like pretty things. So, I tried it.
The result: stunning cookies! And it was easy enough for a terrible cookie decorator like me to achieve Instagram-worthy results.
This technique works well because of food coloring.
If you are at all familiar with food coloring, you have probably used liquid food coloring. You can find it in most grocery stores in the baking aisle. It’s water-based, inexpensive, and used in cookie doughs, cake batters, and frostings.
Gel food coloring has a glycerin or corn syrup base so it is thicker and the color is more concentrated. A little goes a long way. Most cake decorators, like my mom, use it in frostings and icings to give them bright and saturated colors.
A few decades ago, gel coloring was harder to find and only sold in specialty baking supply stores. Now it is available at Walmart, Target, Michaels, and of course, Amazon.
For this marbled glaze, you need just a few drops of liquid food coloring and a toothpick to achieve a beautiful, swirly pattern for your cookies.
- The sugar cookie dough needs its time alone in the fridge for Netflix and chill. Let it have that time. The dough should be cold and fairly firm (not hard) before being rolled out so that the cutters will make clean cuts and the cookies won’t spread when baked.
- Have a ruler handy when you roll the dough to ¼” thickness. Don’t eyeball it as I have for years. Once I started using a ruler, I was astounded to discover that I had been rolling my dough too thin for too long. No wonder they burned so quickly!
- Don’t bake them too long. They will be tooth-chipping hard. The baked cookies should be a sandy color with just a touch of brown around the edges.
Many thanks to King Arthur Baking for the holiday butter cookies recipe and to Jake Cohen for the tie-dye Hanukkah cookie inspiration.Print
Sugar Cookies with Marbled Glaze
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Chill Time: 2 hours or overnight
- Cook Time: 14 minutes
- Total Time: 34 minutes plus chill time
- Yield: 36 cookies 1x
- 18 Tbsp butter (2 ½ sticks)
- 1 ¼ cups powdered sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- ¼ cup milk
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp almond or vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp vodka (or water)
- Food coloring
- Make the cookies by beating the butter and powdered sugar together in a mixer until combined and smooth. Add the egg yolk, salt, and vanilla extract and beat again. Tip in the flour, one cup at a time, and beat after each addition. Mix until smooth.
- Divide the dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and smoosh it down into a flat disk. Let the dough chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 350 F/176 F. Place parchment paper on two rimmed baking sheets and set aside.
- Lightly flour a flat surface. Unwrap one dough disk and roll it out to a uniform ¼-inch thickness, flouring the top if needed to avoid sticking to the rolling pin. Using cookie cutters, cut out cookies and place them on the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until sandy in color and just being to brown around the edges. Don’t overbake them. Cool in the pan set on a wire rack.
- Make the icing by whisking together the powdered sugar, milk, salt, extract, and vodka (or water) until smooth. It helps to do this in a large, kind of shallow bowl so you have room to dip the cookie tops. Dot a few drops of liquid food coloring on the surface of the icing. Use a toothpick to make a few loops and swirls.
- Dip the top of a cookie into the icing and rotate it around 90 degrees before lifting the cookie straight up. You should have a fun, whirly, organic design. Place the cookie on a wire rack for the icing to set. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Makes 36-ish cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.
Keywords: sugar cookies with marbled glaze
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