Lagniappe: Mountain Goats and Debbie’s Sugar Cookies

To refresh your memory, lagniappe (LAN-yap) is a Creole term meaning something a little extra, sort of like a “baker’s dozen.” It’s a word we heard often during our Louisiana years. We like to think of our “Lagniappe” posts as little digital extras we add to our regular bi-weekly posts.

[Note: Andy is taking the reins for today’s Lagniappe blog].

Appropriately enough, this post was inspired by a little something extra I received recently following a ride with a group of fellow cyclists who call themselves the Mountain Goats (or just “Goats” for short). For me the route had been particularly challenging and by the time we got back to our vehicles I was tuckered out and ready to head home. While stowing my bike in the back of my car, Debbie, one of the “Goats,” was going from vehicle to vehicle offering festively decorated cookies that she had baked. Just seeing these colorful, sweet gems brightened me up. And biting into one was heavenly – the perfect picker-upper after a long ride.

As soon as I took that bite I knew that I had to convince Debbie to share the secret of her cookies for BigLittleMeals. What could be more appropriate for a pre-Easter edition, or for that matter, any pre-festive-occasion edition? She was kind enough to agree, so I asked her to write a little something about herself and how she creates her amazing cookies.

A little something by Debbie about Debbie:

Debbie is an amateur baker, cookie aficionado, and semi-retired educator (who keeps teaching because she needs the dough. Who knew powdered sugar was so expensive?) Other than attending her first-and-only decorating class and watching countless Youtube videos, Debbie is a self-taught baker who learns through trial and error (and eating her mistakes. Yay, yummy mistakes). When not baking, Debbie can often be found cycling with her Mountain Goat friends, climbing hills around Sonoma County.

[Editors note: Debbie was too modest to mention that among her accomplishments she was the 1993 Amateur World Champion (Triathlon Short Course) and the 1994 US Amateur Triathlete of the Year. She went on to compete professionally as a triathlete. This was all prior to her becoming a world class cookie maker.]

Here’s the scoop on her cookies:

Below are Debbie’s preferred recipes for sugar cookies and for their icing. You need to go no further than the straightforward cookie recipe to produce a batch of cookies that would please anyone. But it’s the icing and decorating part that gives them that special pizzaz and – well, just makes everyone who sees them happy. That part is a bit less straightforward, but Debbie offers some helpful tips for the uninitiated.

Debbie’s decorating tips

As I have learned from many, many mistakes, successful cookie decorating depends on icing consistency. Icing consistency is really important! If the icing is too runny, it will run off the cookie. Too stiff and it will not dry flat. For newcomers to decorating, there are a number of youtube videos that explain how to make icing the proper consistency. You can check out

You also need practice! My first attempts at decorating were not-so-pretty…[actually, they were just so sad!]. However, like most things, decorating cookies gets easier and better with practice.

There are also so many resources online, you can become a self-taught decorator in no time! Pinterest is a wonderful resource for decorating ideas and images. 
This royal icing recipe [below] comes courtesy of Sugared Sentiments and is available at:

Essential tools include icing bags, couplers, icing tips, a scribe (or toothpick!) and, of course, food color. Gel dyes are more effective than liquid dyes.

Happy holiday – or any day that provides an excuse to make these happy cookies.

Debbie's Sugar Cookies

  • Servings: makes about 3 doz cookies
  • Print
Recipe adapted from Katrina Bahl

  • 1 c unsalted butter
  • 1 c white sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 c all purpose flour

    PREHEAT oven to 350° F.

    In the bowl of your mixer, cream butter and sugar until smooth, at least 3 minutes

    Beat in extracts and egg.

    In a separate bowl, combine baking powder and salt with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients.
    IMPORTANT NOTE: If the dough looks crumbly keep mixing for 30 seconds to 1 minute longer. The dough should be pulling away from the sides of the mixer.

    If the dough still looks too dry or stiff for your mixer, turn out the dough onto a countertop surface, flour surface as needed. Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand.

    Recipe brought to you by Debbie and and Andy and Ann.

    Soft Royal Icing (for Debbie's Cookies)

    Note that the white food color is optional. It helps prevent color bleed and gives the icing more of a bright white appearance. Without it the icing is a bit opaque. You can find it, among other places,  at Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Walmart, some grocery stores, and on line.  Recipe adapted from Sugared Sentiments

    • 1/2 c water
    • 1/4 c meringue powder
    • 2 lbs powdered sugar
    • 2 T light corn syrup
    • 2 T vegetable shortening
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I substitute almond extract)
    • 1 T white gel food color (optional)

      In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add water and meringue powder. Mix on med-high speed until frothy.

      Add corn syrup, shortening, flavors and about 1/3 of the powdered sugar and mix well. Make sure it is all combined and there are no chunks of shortening left behind.

      Add the rest of the powdered sugar and mix until combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add white gel food color. Then mix on med speed for about two minutes, until stiff and pretty thick.

      Color, and thin to desired consistency(s), bag and DECORATE!! Keep covered to prevent drying out. Store completely covered at room temperature for up to a week, or bag and place in the freezer for up to 3 months.

      Recipe brought to you by Debbie and and Andy and Ann.


      1. Kris Acker says:

        Yay Debbie! I hope you are able to bring some across the border when it opens! If not, re-create them here! Congratulations on the article & great job on the cookies!


      2. Sharon Ponsford says:

        What a relief it was to see that you are not serving goat for Easter! I was a little worried about it. I love goats and am currently bottle feeding baby goats at Goatlandia once a week. They are so adorable.
        Debbie’s cookies look great. And that Mountain Goats jersey looks very familiar. Life with a Mountain Goat is never dull.


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