Chef Penny decorating sugar cookies

Gold-Covered Sugar Cookies

Chef Penny Stankiewicz uses a creaming method to make her cookies.

On the latest episode of Epicurious' 4 Levels series, ICE Chef-Instructor Penny Stankiewicz shows how to make sugar cookies, which she tops with royal icing, dried rose petals, lavender and 24-carat gold leaf.

Chef Penny doesn't mess around with her sugar cookies. She begins by using the creaming method, the process of combining sugar into butter to create a light, fluffy mixture.

"The sugar is beating tunnels into the butter, and those tunnels are an opportunity for us to get the next ingredients ... to fit into it well," she says. "The more evenly that I cream the butter and sugar, the better my final results will be."

Depending on how you want to use the royal icing, Chef Penny suggests adding small amounts of water to thin it, add extra sugar to thicken it and even enhance the flavor with small amounts of various extracts. This acts as a base that intricate decorations like rose petals, lavender and gold leaf, will sink into. 

Watch how Chef Penny makes her sugar cookies, and get the recipe below. 

Explore Pastry & Baking at ICE.


Sugar Cookies


  • 9 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick (or 1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the egg and vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer in small amounts, mixing to combine.
  6. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper to approximately 1/4-inch thick and chill until firm.
  7. Remove one of the sheets of parchment and cut out shapes from the dough.
  8. Bake until lightly golden.
  9. Cool on rack.
  10. When thoroughly cooled, decorate with royal icing.
Royal Icing


  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 pound confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice


  1. Beat egg whites with whisk attachment on medium speed in a standing mixer until soft peaks form.
  2. Change to the paddle attachment, and add the sifted sugar in small amounts at low speed until incorporated.
  3. Add lemon juice and beat on medium speed until icing holds its shape. Cover with plastic wrap at all times until ready to use.

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