First, measure out all of the ingredients, then combine the flour and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl.
Next, in a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer until smooth.
Add in the vanilla extract and the egg, then beat the mixture again.
Then, slowly add the flour and salt mixture into the wet ingredients while still continuously mixing. When the dough is stiff, finish kneading it by hand.
After kneading, wrap and chill the dough for 3 hours in the fridge before rolling it out.
After chilling the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F and set the dough out on the counter for 15 minutes.
Then, on a lightly-floured surface, use the rolling pin to flatten the chilled cookie dough out until it is ¼ inch thick.
Next, use the skull cookie cutters to cut out the skull-shaped sugar cookies and transfer the cookie cutouts to a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or sheet of parchment paper.
Before baking, place the baking sheet of cookie cutouts in the fridge and let them chill for another 5-10 minutes.This is so the cookies will keep their form and don’t spread out while baking.
Bake the sugar cookies for about 8-10 minutes.
Finally, after baking, let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheet and then transfer the sugar cookies to the cooling rack and cool completely before decorating.
First, combine the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder in a large mixing bowl.
Then, add in the water, one spoon at a time, while mixing with a hand mixer on the low speed setting. Drop in the vanilla extract and continue to mix, on low, until the mixture is shiny.
Bump up to the high speed setting and beat the icing mixture for 5-7 minutes.
Next, scoop ⅔ of the icing evenly into 4 separate bowls to add colors into, but be sure to keep ⅓ of the white icing like it is.
Then, use a few separate, clean toothpicks to drop in a little bit of food coloring into each of the 4 smaller bowls of icing: one black, one pink, one blue, and one green.
Mix each colored frosting until the desired color is reached.
Then, transfer each colored frosting into its own royal icing piping bag and tie off each bag with a knot. Cut ⅛ inch from the tip of the bag to start decorating.
Icing the Sugar Skull Cookies
If this is a family decorating project then I highly recommend using some kind of protective layer on your surface like this plastic table cover. Start with completely cooled cookies.
First, use the piping bag of white royal icing to fill in the basic skull shape on the sugar cookies. Let the icing dry before adding any colors on top.
Next, use the pink, blue, and green icings to fill in the Day of the Dead skull patterns and details. Use the Needle Modelling Tool to pop any icing air bubbles and to help with fine or small details.
Finally, use the black and white icings to fill in the skull eyes and use the black to draw out the skull teeth.If desired, add Halloween sprinkles before the icing starts to dry.It will probably take about 30 hours for the icing to completely dry well enough for storage or packaging.
How to Store Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing:To store sugar cookies decorated with royal icing, seal the cookies up tightly in an airtight container or in a ziplock bag and store either on the counter for up to 1 week or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. If desired, these cookies can be frozen at any point of the process whether it’s the dough, fully decorated cookies, or undecorated baked cookies.
Keyword baking, Day of the Dead, halloween, royal icing, sugar cookies