This Earth Day Cookies recipe gives you buttery soft sugar cookies that taste fantastic, hold their shape, and are so easy to make! Topped with a simple royal icing recipe that mixes together in seconds, these cookies will make a delicious way to celebrate Earth Day!
Table of contents
Pale Blue Dot...Cookie
While watching me pipe the blue and green royal icing onto these Earth Day Cookies, my husband asked me if I had ever read the book or any quotes from Carl Sagan's, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Future Human in Space. He said it would fit nicely with the whole Earth Day theme and the Earth Day Cookies I had made.
So naturally, I went to Google to look it up and he was right!
Here's an excerpt from the book, Pale Blue Dot
“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives.
The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.
It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.
To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known.”― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
Behind the Recipe
These fun and easy-to-make Earth Day Cookies come from my super soft cut-out sugar cookies recipe! They're buttery soft on the inside with a slight crisp to their light golden brown outside. You can also check out my chocolate cut-out sugar cookie version too!
How to Make Earth Day Cookies
The Cookie Dough
This is a very simple sugar cookie recipe to make that requires at least 1 hour for the dough to chill. Chilling the cookie dough helps to bring that butter back to its solid state so the cookies don't spread out as much during baking.
For these Earth Day Cookies, it's not as much of a big deal if the cookies spread out because they're just circles. For other shapes though, it definitely helps to chill the cookie dough for as long as you can. My preference is overnight.
The Royal Icing
I made a piping consistency for outlining the continents, and a flooding consistency for filling in the shapes and water areas. A good way to test the consistencies is to take your mixer's whisk and dip it into the royal icing.
A piping consistency will be more like glue. It should be somewhat on the thick side and take around 20 seconds to disappear back into the mixing bowl. It should be easy to pipe, but not super runny.
A flooding consistency should be thinner and runnier than glue. When doing the whisk test, it should flow back into the mixing bowl quickly and disappear within 10-15 seconds.
Keep in mind that depending on where you live and the time of year, you may have to adjust this recipe to get it to the consistency you need it to be.
What Kind of Tools Do I Need for Decorating Iced Cookies?
Here are the tools I recommend using to decorate the Earth Day Cookies.
- Cake Turntable. I used the Wilton Trim 'n Turn Ultra Cake Turntable, but also have a Ateco Cast Iron Cake Turntable. Both work very well for decorating cookies! And obviously, cakes.
- Food Coloring or Icing Gel. I used Wilton's Icing Gel in Kelly Green and Royal Blue
- Small Piping Bags. I used one small piping bag, along with the Wilton Piping Tip No. 2 for the green.
- Mini Squeeze Bottles - Mini squeeze bottles can be a great alternative to piping bags when working with a thinner royal icing. I used one for the blue royal icing.
- Cookie Decorating Tool Set. A cookie decorating tool set comes in very handy for taking out any air bubbles and wiping off any excess icing.
How to Decorate Earth Day Cookies Using Royal Icing
- Recipe bake times are approximate and will vary based on your oven. Always begin to check on your recipe at the first recommended bake time listed.
- Recipe does not include time for cooling of cookies after baking.
- Royal icing prep time is approximately 35-40 minutes. This includes making the icing, adding a squeeze bottle, piping bag, and setting up your work area.
- Total decorating time of Earth Day Cookies will vary based on how many cookies are made (based on size of circles) and experience level.
- Whatever cookie sheet or jelly roll pan you use for chilling the slabs of cookie dough, make sure it fits in your refrigerator!
- If your cookie dough is still too sticky while rolling it out, you can add a little more flour to the work surface.
- You can roll the cookie dough directly onto a sheet of parchment paper which will make it easier to place onto the cookie sheet or jelly roll pan for chilling.
- If you'd like, you can reuse the parchment paper you used earlier to roll out the dough.
- If time allows, you can chill the cut out circles in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before baking. This is an optional step.
- Sometimes the more you handle the cookie dough, you can end up with air bubbles after baking. If this happens, remove them from the oven and gently tap the tops of them with a spatula/turner.
- For shinier royal icing, you can add in a ½ teaspoon of Light Corn Syrup.
- Make your royal icing for a stiff consistency first. Remove what you would like to save for more detailed decorating or for another cookie project. Place it into a well-sealed container. Cover the surface of icing with plastic wrap and keep it stored in refrigerator for up to a week. When ready to use, stir by hand with a spoon or spatula.
- Use toothpicks to add in the icing gel until you reach the desired color. If using food coloring drops, start with one drop at a time.
- Allow your cookies to completely dry overnight before storing them in an airtight container or packaging.
Earth Day CookiesAuthor:
cut out sugar cookies
- 2 ⅔ cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tsp Baking Soda
- 1 tsp Cream of Tartar
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter, room temperature
- 1 cup Sifted Powdered Sugar
- 1 Large Egg, room temperature
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- ½ tsp Almond Extract
- ½ cup Meringue Powder
- 7 cups Sifted Powdered Sugar
- ¾ cup Water, room temperature + more for flooding consistency (keep separate)
- 2 ½ tsp Vanilla Extract
- Food Coloring or Icing Gel, colors of your choice
cut out sugar cookies
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking soda, and cream of tartar. Set to the side.
- Using your hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the unsalted butter on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
- Turn off your mixer and add in the powdered sugar. Blend it together with the butter over low speed until it's almost combined.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then on medium-high speed, add in the egg, vanilla extract, and almond extract until well blended.
- Switching the mixer speed low, gradually add in the whisked dry mixture until fully incorporated. The cookie dough should start to form a ball and pull away from the sides.
- Transfer the sugar cookie dough onto a clean work surface, then shape it into a ball and divide it into 2 sections. Roll out the first section of cookie dough to a ¼ inch thickness slab on a lightly floured sheet of parchment paper (or wax paper if you plan to freeze the dough for later). Place onto a baking sheet or jelly roll pan. Repeat with the second section, placing it on top of the first layer. Refrigerate the cookie dough slabs for a minimum of 1 hour or (my preference) overnight.
- After chilling is complete, adjust your oven rack to the 2nd level position (just above center) and preheat your oven to 375ºF. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Flour your cookie cutters and cut out your shapes. Place each cut out shape about 1"- 1 ½" apart on the cookie sheet. If only using sanding sugar or sprinkles, now is the time to add them. Place any cut out cookies not yet baked into the refrigerator or freezer to chill while the first set bakes.
- Bake the cookies for 7-8 minutes at 375ºF or until the edges are a light golden brown. Allow them to cool on the cookie sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them with a spatula (or server) to a wire cooling rack. Let them cool completely before decorating them with the royal icing. If baking the cookies in advance, keep them stored in an airtight container with a slice of bread for up to 3 days. You can also freeze baked cookies for up to 3 months. Let them cool completely before placing into a well-sealed container or freezer bag.
royal icing (stiff consistency)
- Using your hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment mix together the meringue powder and powdered sugar on low speed until blended. Keeping the mixer speed on low, add in the water and vanilla extract and mix it starts to come together.
- Then scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to mix on low speed until the royal icing is very thick (about 3-5 minutes) and can keep a stiff peak when inverting the paddle attachment.
- Remove any stiff consistency royal icing you plan to use later for detailing your cut out cookies. Scoop it into a well-sealed food container, covering the surface of the icing with plastic wrap and store it in the refrigerator. It's a good idea to reserve a small amount too in case you have watered down the icing too much when making the flooding consistency.
royal icing (flooding consistency)
- To the stiff consistency icing add room temperature water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the royal icing, when tested with a spoon, takes 15-20 seconds to blend back into the bowl of icing. If you watered it down too much, add a little of the stiff consistency icing you set aside back into the frosting.
decorating the cookies
- Have your blue and green colors prepped and in piping bags. For this cookie tutorial you will be using the flooding consistency royal icing with just a piping bag. No decorating tip is needed. To make things easier, place all the piping bags onto a jelly roll pan.
- Outline the entire circle with the blue royal icing. Let dry to the touch. Outline in the continents with the green royal icing, then fill them in. Place the finished cookies onto a wire cooling rack to dry. It takes a minimum of 2 hours for them to dry. To speed up the process, place a fan nearby to dry the tops. Optionally, cookies can be left out overnight to dry as well. Do not put the cookies into a container. Any leftover royal icing can be stored in the refrigerator covering the surface with plastic wrap and sealed with the container lid.
- Once fully dry, place into a well-sealed food container with a slice of bread to keep them nice and soft for up to 10 days. You can also freeze already baked and iced cookies for up to 3 months when place and sealed into individual bags.