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I am working mom who loves to cook and bake. I hope to keep track of recipes and share some of my better ones. In the process, hopefully my photography and cooking will get better and better!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Sugar Cookies and Royal-ish icing

There are lots of good tutorials now for cookie decorating.   The first time  I made Royal icing was for my sister's baby shower.  This baby was a long time coming, and I wanted to do something special for her impending arrival.   I made cookies for the shower.  And when I say I made cookies, I MADE COOKIES.  Nutter  Butter cookies, oatmeal cream pie cookies, mississippi mud, homemade oreos, coconut chocolate chip cookies, and these sugar cookies.  They were tasty, but aesthetically, a flop.  Well, I've finally made peace with royal icing after a brief foray into glaze.  I didn't like the lack of detail that I could achieve with glaze (other people do it just fine- I am baker, Cookie Crazie).  But Glaze tastes better!   Enter Meghan.  The addition of corn syrup and vegetable shortening to the royal icing both soften the traditionally rock hard royal icing just enough so it's more pleasant to bite into, but decorations still stay perfect, stackable, shippable- 24 hours uncovered drying time pre-shipping advised!

But I still hated the separate flood and piping consistency, and couldn't get it right (too thin, too thick, - repeat).  Then I saw a tutorial by Callye of Sweet Sugarbelle that brought me back to RI.  The twenty second rule(video tutorial)- thin your icing until it takes 20 second to fall back on itself- then you can do marbling, piping and flooding with the same icing.  I'd always have too much flood and not enough piping, or vice versa.

These cookies are so much better than ordinary sugar cookies- They hold their shape very well and the lemon zest is such a nice addition- it makes them positively crave-able!

I'm still quite a novice- this is only about my fifth or sixth time doing these.  But you get better quickly.  It is time consuming- I made dough and RI and decorated in the same night, and for 30 cookies (1 batch) it took 3 1/2 hours including clean up.

You should go to the University of Cookie for great video tutorials on cookie decorating.  Really neat.

Butterfly decorating inspired by sweetopia and Annie's Eats
Zebra Cookies decorating from Callye
Marbling from Sweetopia
Doing a straight line from one tough cookie
Rolling dough from TidyMom

Lemon and Vanilla Bean White Sugar Cookies
Adapted from Annie's Eats

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (4.5 oz)
1 large egg
2½ tsp. vanilla extract (I like vanilla bean crush extract)
1 TBSP vanilla bean paste or 1 vanilla bean, seeds
Zest of half a lemon
2½ cups all-purpose flour (12.5 oz)
1 tsp. salt

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until smooth, 1-2 minutes.  Beat in the egg, vanilla extract, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and lemon zest until blended.  Mix in the flour and salt on low speed just until incorporated.

Roll dough to about 1/4 inch thick between 2 sheets of wax paper.  Put dough and wax paper in fridge or freezer to chill for 30 minutes.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375˚ F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper.   Cut with cookie cutters as desired and transfer to the prepared baking sheets.  Bake 8 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking, until fully cooked but not at all browned.  Allow to cool on the baking sheet 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Decorate as desired.

Royal-Ish Icing
Adapted from Meghan as featured on Sweet Sugarbelle
21 oz powdered sugar (about 6 cups)
about 8 tablespoons water (divided 7 1/2 and 1)
2 tablespoon corn syrup
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons meringue powder

Beat meringue powder, 7 1/2 tablespoons water, and powdered sugar.  Beat until stiff and glossy on medium high, about 7-9 minutes.  Add crisco and corn syrup, beat again until combined.  You may need to add more water (I had 1 tbsp) to achieve the 20 second rule.  Color and decorate.