Friday, February 13, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

This week I had to make a sweet treat for my daughter's class. I already knew I wanted to make cookies and decorate them. And I've been dying to use a book I got for Christmas. Well, actually I got a gift card and this is what I got with it. It has great ideas for cakes and cookie and recipes in the back. I used her Basic Sugar Cookie and Royal Icing recipes. Her sugar cookies are simple to make and taste great. Same goes for the royal icing. Very simple and still comes out tasting great.
I played around with designs a little bit but since I was making these for a class of 3 and 4 year olds I kinda felt obligated to stick with one design to be fair to everyone. I made hearts withing hearts for the class. There's a couple of examples in the picture to the left. Other than that I did polka dots and squiggles and stripes. Kerah even got to decorate two. Check out the Nana and Papa cookies.

These are some of my favorite designs. I wish I had made a bigger batch so I could have played with it more.

Basic Sugar Cookies from Beautiful Cake by Peggy Porschen

Makes about 25 medium-size or 12 large cookies (I got 28 hearts)

Baking temerature: 350*F; baking time: 6 to 10 minutes, depending on size ( it took about 15 minutes on 350* but my oven's old)

  • 1 3/4 sticks unslated soft butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting

Optional Flavors

  • For vanilla cookies, add seeds from 1 vanilla bean ( I used 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)
  • For lemon cookies, add finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • For orange cookies, add finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • For chocolate cookies, replace 1/3 cup of the flour with 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder.
  1. In the electric mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and any flavoring until well mixed and just becoming creamy in texture. Don't overwork, or the cookies will spread during baking (very very true).
  2. Beat in the egg until well combined. Sift in the flour and mix on low speed untill a dough forms. Gather it into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it for at least 1 hour. (I roll it up into a tube like the tube of cookie dough you get at the grocery store. Makes it easier to roll out later.)
  3. Place the dough on a floured surface and knead it briefly. Using 2 1/4 inch marzipan spacers, roll it out to an even thicknes. (I used a rolling pin with spacers on it. And I rolled my cookies out to 1/8" thickness and they came out fine.)
  4. Use cookie cutters to cut out the desired shapes and, using a spatula, lay these on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper (I prefer parchament. I end up having to peel the cookies off of wax paper.) Chill again for about 30 minutes and heat the oven to 350*.
  5. Bake for 6 to 10 minutes, depending on size, until golden brown at the edges. Leave to cool on a wire rack. Wrapped in foil or plastic wrap, these cookies will keep well in a cool, dry place for up to a month.

Tip: Always bake equal-size cookies together to make sure they bake in the same time. If you mix different sizes, the smaller ones will be baked when the larger ones are still raw in the middle.

Royal Icing from Beautiful Cakes by Peggy Porschen

Makes about 2 1/4 lb

  • about 1 oz. dried egg white powder, or whites of 4 medium eggs (I ended up using 5 whites of large eggs just to keep from killing my mixer)
  • 8 1/3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • squeeze of lemon juice ( I used 1 tsp clear vanilla)
  1. If using the dried egg white, mix with 2/3 cup water and strain to get rid of any lumps. Ideally let this rest overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Place the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer, add three-quarters of the egg-white mix or the lightlybeaten egg whites and the lemon juice, and start mixing on low speed.
  3. Once these are well combined, check the consistency. If the sides of the bowl still look dry and crumbly, add some more of the mixture or egg white until the icing looks almost smooth but not wet.
  4. Keep mixing for 4 to 5 minutes, until it reaches stiff-peak consistency.
  5. Spoon into a sealable, plastic container and cover with a clean, damp cloth and the lid. Store at room temperature for up to 7 days; if using fresh egg, store in the refrigerator. The egg white can seperate from the sugar after a couple of days, which will turn the icing into a dry, dense mixture. In such a case, remix at low speed until smooth and at stiff-peak consistency again. Make sure no dried icing bits sticking to the sides of your storage container get into the mixing bowl.

When I made this I got it to soft peak consistency with the recipe above using my edits. Using the soft-peak consistency I outlined my hearts. Then I thinned it out with water to make it runny so I could fill in the outlines. I added a teaspoon of water at a time until it was runny or until I could scoop up the icing with my spatula and it would run off like a ribbon.

"Simplicity and repose are the qualities that measure the true value of any work of art."

--Frank Lloyd Wright


How To Eat A Cupcake said...

I love your new layout! :) And the cookies look great!

Ash said...

very cute cookies!

How To Eat A Cupcake said...

What happened to your cuisinart??

Amanda said...

I'm so glad I found this post! I am going to make sugar cookies for the first time ever in about... well... 20 minutes. :)

I'm keeping this post up while I do it.