These cookies are maybe a bit niche in appeal, but as a highland dancer I luckily know lots of dancers and pipers who spend perhaps a little too much time in a kilt, and who would love these plaid cookies.
I started with a fairly simple sugar cookie recipe (here). I did about a half batch (~30 cookies) because these take quite a while to ice, so make sure you can set aside lots of time to decorate these. Any sugar cookie recipe will do, but make sure they are rolled sugar cookies rather than the soft ones, as those won’t hold their shape.
For these sugar cookies, I added a little extra spice. For a half batch from the recipe above, I added 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 tsp ginger, and about 1/8 tsp of cloves. This adds a pretty subtle spiciness to the cookies, but have fun experimenting with spice blends here. Sugar cookies provide a lovely background for other flavours.
Start by rolling out your dough fairly thin, about 1/8 of an inch. I found this dough to be fairly sticky, so definitely flour your surface before rolling. Then use a 4″ scalloped square cookie cutter to make the start of the kilt outline. This would work just as easily with a regular square cutter, but I liked the scalloped look along the bottom as a stand-in for the pleats of a kilt.
Then, using a pastry cutter, or any sharp knife, make an angled cut along one side (see below, in red):
Your next cut will be a mirror image of this on the other side of the cookie. If you are concerned with symmetry and want to make the angles very close to each other, my boyfriend came up with a neat trick: take the piece of dough you just removed and flip it over. Then line it up with the opposite edge of the cookie, and use this as your guide for the second slice, as below:
At this stage you’ll have the trapezoid shape that you need to make your kilt. If, like me, you used a scalloped cookie cutter, trim the top edge so that the three top sides are smooth, but the bottom still has that nice scalloped edge.
To decorate these, you will need flood consistency royal icing in white (tip #3), your plaid colour of choice (tip #2), and a small amount of black (tip #1, or place in a ziploc bag and snip the very edge off the bag to make a very fine black line). If you aren’t familiar with royal icing, I recommend Julia M Usher’s videos on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GO0_aNbL6Do). I follow her recipe pretty exactly, and I find she has great clear videos to show you how to flood and decorate cookies. I made a half batch and split it 1/2 white, then about 1/4 colour and 1/4 black (but you can get away with very little black as the lines are quite thin). You could maybe do this with a simple sugar and water glaze, but I don’t think it would show off the pattern nearly as well, and doesn’t dry hard in the same way that royal icing does.
To pipe the wide plaid (below), first flood your cookie with white icing, and use a toothpick or scribe tool to smooth the icing on the cookie. Then, using your coloured icing, draw two vertical stripes, centered on the kilt. For mine, I piped three lines next to each other, but the width can be adjusted to suit your preference. Then, depending on the size of your cookie, you’ll likely be able to fit 2-3 stripes horizontally. Once your colour is piped, take your black icing and outline all of the coloured stripes. Then, pipe vertical and horizontal black lines down the middle white section between your stripes. I found the more black in my pattern, the better it looked, so these black lines really add to the look.
For the thin plaid (below), again you will start by flooding your cookie with white royal icing and smooth out your icing on the cookie. Then, with your coloured icing, pipe single lines in pairs. Vertically, I fit two pairs of stripes, so you will have sets of two lines very close together, followed by a larger white space, then another two lines close together. Do the same horizontally. Again, you will likely fit 2-3 pairs of stripes in this direction depending on the size of your cookie. Then, take your black icing and pipe a black line in between each pair of stripes. Again, the more black in this pattern, the better it looks.
If you want to add a sporran (above), wait at least 30 minutes for the icing to slightly harden, then pipe a black circle near the top of the kilt. Add two lines, moving from the top of the circle to each of the top edges of the kilt. To add a little detail, use a toothpick to make small white lines vertically on the sporran.
Allow these to dry overnight so the icing completely hardens, then enjoy!
The process an aboyne is similar to the kilts above, but here you will be using a circular cutter instead of a square. Mine is about 4.5″ in diameter, and again I used the scalloped edge, but a regular circle would also do.
Once you’ve cut out your circle, slice two angled cuts off either side with your knife or pastry cutter. You can use the same dough trick as above to make sure these cuts are even. You’ll want to play a little with these cuts; changing the angle can give you a narrower or more full skirt, as desired. I tried a few different angles to find one I liked the best.
Then, take your circle cutter and take out a small piece at the top to form the waistband of the skirt. For my scalloped cookies, I used a straight edged cutter here, so again the top three sides of this cookie are straight and only the bottom of the skirt has a scalloped edge.
To make an aboyne, you can ice these the same as for a kilt, but this time make your vertical stripes angled to match the line of the aboyne, and give your horizontal stripes a slight curve. I cut my black a little too thick for this plaid, but you can get an idea below:
Or, if you’d prefer, you can turn this into a jig skirt. Just fill with green or red instead of white. Let this harden slightly (~30 minutes), then pipe a small white apron (essentially follow the same skirt shape above, but in miniature). You can add a small shamrock by piping a small green dot in the bottom corner of the skirt, then use a toothpick to draw out the leaves and stem.
So that’s how I made my cookies! Let me know if you have any questions below 🙂
For any dancers who prefer the hornpipe to the jig, I’m still working on a design for hornpipe cookies, and will hopefully bake & post some soon!