Christmas tree-shaped sugar cookies covered with white royal icing get a botanical makeover with edible flower petals. Scottish flowers in hues of blue, purple and orange, create a bright and unexpected color palette for the holidays.
I must have at least 100 Christmas-themed cookie cutters, but I always seem to return to the same shape, a pine tree (1,2). Like a favorite song, it’s the kind of thing that suits me just fine on repeat.
In the very back of my pantry I found a little jar of “Flowers of Scotland” which are dried petals and herbs for culinary use. One peek at those vivid blue cornflowers convinced me to make rather unconventional Christmas cookies this year. I look at them as a reminder that we can still enjoy colorful blooms in cold, snowy months.
As far as iced sugar cookies go, these are pretty easy to manage because there’s no intricate piping or tedious design. You’ll bake up a batch of my favorite simple sugar cookies and ice them with a batch of flood consistency royal icing (flood means it’s runny, more on that in the recipe). While the icing on the cookies is still wet, you’ll sprinkle on the dried petals. I also added a few shiny dragees for a touch of holiday sparkle.
I decided to add a few additional touches of blue and orange edible paint. Periwinkle and orange petal dusts dissolved in clear extract makes a fast-drying culinary paint. Use a kitchen-dedicated paint brush to add dots of the color to the dried royal icing. You can get rather abstract here, because there’s no right or wrong way to arrange the paint on the cookies. Just lightly dot the paint in whatever fashion pleases you.
The ‘Flowers of Scotland’ bottled mix I used seems to be out of stock everywhere, but you can buy the petal varieties individually and mix them yourself. The petals I used listed in the ingredients are blue cornflower, starflower (actually safflower) and purple heather. Of course, you don’t have to be limited to the Scottish petals I used! There are many Etsy sellers that stock all kinds of beautiful edible petals.
Flowers of Scotland Sugar Cookies
Sugar cookie dough
- 1/2 lb. two US sticks unsalted butter
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons 225g granulated sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 cups 380g all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
Royal Icing and décors
- 4 cups 900g confectioners’ sugar, sifted
- 3 tablespoons meringue powder
- 1/2 cup warm water plus additional for thinning
- 1/2 teaspoon clear lemon extract plus more for petal dusts
- 1/2 cup edible flower petals Scottish blend: cornflower, purple heather, and safflower
- 2 tablespoons each 2mm silver dragees 4mm silver dragees
- Periwinkle and orange petal dusts
- In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together until just incorporated. Do not over-mix at this stage, or the cookies may spread while baking.
- Add the egg and vanilla extract. Mix again on low speed, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl intermittently as needed.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add to the butter and egg mixture. Mix on low speed until a dough is formed and there are no longer any streaks of butter in the mixing bowl. The dough will often clump around the paddle attachment while being mixed. This is normal and a good sign that your dough is the right consistency. If your mixture does not come together and is crumbly, add ice cold water 1 tbsp. at a time until the dough clumps. Roll the dough flat between sheets of parchment paper and chill until ready for use, at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Use a 4 inch cutter to stamp shapes from the dough and transfer them to the prepared pans. Chill the shapes in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Bake cookies for 12-15 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly brown on the edges. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Royal Icing and décors
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, stir the confectioners’ sugar and meringue powder on low speed until combined.
- Add the water and beat on medium-high speed until thickened. Mix in the flavoring. Scrape down the bowl and beat again. Mix in drops of water until the icing thins to flood consistency (It should be thick and pourable like a milkshake. Run a spatula through the icing to check; the indention should disappear by the count of 10.) Use the icing immediately or drape a damp tea towel over the mixing bowl or bowls to prevent the icing from drying out.
- Using a disposable piping bag or a zip-top bag with a tiny hole snipped in the end, pipe a line of frosting around the outer edge of the cookies. Let stand for 5 minutes. Flood the inside of the shape with more icing until completely covered and smooth. Add flower petals and dragees while the icing is still wet. Let stand until dry, about 4 hours or overnight.
- Mix each petal dust with drops of lemon extract. Paint dots of color onto the dry cookies. Let air dry for 10 minutes. Package cookies and give as Christmas gifts!
- Not all meringue powder is the same. Be sure to read the directions on the back of the meringue powder container for suggested amounts.