Learn how to make these beautiful butterfly cookies with this easy recipe. Bake simple vanilla cookies and decorate with colourful icing to create these sweet treats
For the cookies:
125g (4oz) unsalted butter, softened
150g (5oz) caster sugar
Pinch of salt
Few drops of vanilla
1 medium egg
250g (8oz) plain flour
1-2 x 500g packet royal icing sugar
Paste food colourings in various colours
Sparkling sugar, optional
Hundreds and thousands, optional
You will also need:
Butterfly cookie cutters
Baking sheets, lined with non-stick liners or baking parchment
No. 2 writing piping tube(s)
Small disposable piping bags
For a smooth surface, decorate one cookie at a time and work quickly so that the coloured details sink down into the main icing. If the icing is too thick, add a little water, but be careful not to make it too runny or it will slide off the cookies
Set the oven to 160°C/320°F/Gas Mark 3.
Cream together the butter, sugar, salt and vanilla extract until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and then the flour until the mixture binds together to form a dough. If the dough is very soft, wrap it in a plastic bag and chill it until it’s firm enough to roll out. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 3-4mm (nearly 1⁄4in) thick and use cutters to cut out shapes, re-rolling trimmings as necessary until all the dough is used.
Place the cut-out shapes on the lined baking sheets. If there is time, chill the shapes for 10-15 minutes before baking. Bake the biscuits in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the cookies start to turn golden at the edges. Remove the baking sheets from the oven.
Leave the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely.
To decorate the cookies, make up the royal icing, following the directions on the packet, until it’s a piping consistency. Divide the icing between several bowls and then colour them according to the colours you want to decorate the butterflies. Fit the piping tube into a piping bag and fill with a dark-coloured icing. Add a little water to the other colours of the icing to soften it, so that when you shake the bowl the surface levels, and fill different piping bags with the other colours.
Carefully pipe the outline of a butterfly in a darker-coloured icing.
Cut off the end of the icing bags with the softer icing to give a small hole and fill in the outline using small, circular movements. Tap the cookie on the work surface to level the icing.
Working quickly, cut the ends off the other piping bags as the coloured icings are to be used and pipe detail on the cookies, such as lines and dots. Use the tip of a toothpick to drawn lines across the piped lines to give a feathered look before the icing sets.
For simpler decoration, pipe a dark outline and flood in with a softer icing. Sprinkle over sparkling sugar and hundreds and thousands, if you like.
Pipe the body and head of the butterfly using the No. 2 piping tube and the stiffer darker-coloured royal icing.