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Santa’s Elf Cookies

These rosy-cheeked elf cookies make a showstopping addition to your holiday cookie tray. Practice makes perfect to get the royal icing design just right! —Josh Rink, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Total Time
    Prep: 2 hours + standing Bake: 10 min./batch + cooling
  • Makes
    about 4 dozen

Ingredients

  • 1-3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, divided
  • 2 ounces almond paste
  • 1-1/4 cups butter, softened
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup 2% milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ROYAL ICING AND DECORATIONS:
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water plus 2 teaspoons water
  • 4-1/2 teaspoons meringue powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Food coloring
  • Edible food writing pen
  • Black nonpareil sprinkles
  • Pink luster dust, optional
  • Chocolate frosting of your choice

Directions

  • In the bowl of a food processor fitted with blade attachment, pulse 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar and almond paste until well mixed and texture resembles finely ground cornmeal. In a large bowl, cream butter and remaining 1-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add almond paste mixture and beat until fully incorporated. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  • Preheat oven to 375°. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/4-in. thickness. Cut out using a floured 3-1/2-in. elf cookie cutter. Place 1 in. apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until light golden brown and firm, 7-8 minutes. Let stand for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool.
  • For icing, in a large bowl, combine confectioners' sugar, water, meringue powder and cream of tartar; beat on low speed just until blended. Beat on high until stiff peaks form, 4-5 minutes. Divide icing into thirds. Tint 1 portion of icing with red food coloring; tint second portion with desired food coloring for face. Leave remaining portion white.
    Place icings into piping bags fitted with fine round tips. Pipe icing onto cookies to create clothing, hat and face. While icing is still wet, place black sprinkles to create eyes. Let icing dry completely. If desired, dip a small brush into pink luster dust; tap off excess and dab onto cookies to create pink cheeks. Using leaf tip #67, pipe frosting to create ears. Using a small round tip, pipe icing to create nose. Using edible pen or round tip, draw mouth. Place chocolate frosting into a piping bag fitted with #14 star tip; pipe along top of face and rim of hat to create hair. Store in an airtight container.
Nutrition Facts
1 cookie: 134 calories, 6g fat (3g saturated fat), 18mg cholesterol, 72mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate (10g sugars, 0 fiber), 2g protein.
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