Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wow, these are old

I hadn't been able to locate my camera card reader for a while, so some of these are backlogged.

For the February stake youth dance, our ward was in charge. Each of the YW leaders was asked to bring 100 cookies.

Pause. And disclaimer. I'm not a *huge* fan of making cookies. They're just not my specialty. I can never seem to get the timing right - they're either uncooked in the middle or too brown and crispy.

My last foray into sugar cookies was disastrous. Despite chilling the dough for some time, it was still too soft to cut. Every time I tried to pick the cookies up, they fell apart. Then, they were so dry and crumbly that they broke in half while I tried to ice them. I think only six cookies survived and were pretty enough to give away.

This time, I tried a new recipe and it was so easy and delicious I couldn't believe I did them myself. The recipe comes from Bake at 350 (an absolutely genius cookie blog). I think the almond really does it.

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold (*I used unsalted and added a tiny dash of salt)
1 egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Combine the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Add the flour mixture in several small additions and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl frequently.

Roll onto a floured surface, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick. Dip cookie cutters into flour before cutting shapes. These were half off at Target because it was right after Valentine's Day - woot! Place cookies parchment lined baking sheets (I love parchment paper!) and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely before icing.

The icing experience on this one was so much different than I've had before! She really made this easy. Check out her awesome Royal Icing recipe.

4 TBSP meringue powder (found in the baking aisle at Hobby Lobby)
scant 1/2 c. water
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp light corn syrup
Food coloring/dye as necessary

Combine the meringue powder and water. Beat until combined and foamy.
Sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. (Do NOT skip the sifting!)
Add in the corn syrup.
Increase speed to med-high/high and beat for about 5 minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. Do not overbeat. (See her blog for a great pic of what your peaks should look like).
Cover with plastic wrap touching the icing or divide and color using gel paste food colorings.

This is your "stiff" icing. Fill an icing bag with the icing, using a small, round tip. I actually used a star one because I couldn't find my round one and I was in a hurry. Outline the edge of your cookie.

Once you have completely outlined every cookie (make sure you got them all!) it's time to thin the icing. Add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it has the consistency of syrup. One blog I read said to dribble the icing from a spoon back into the bowl. If it's absorbed quickly (4-5 seconds), it's ready. If you can still see the dribble, it needs more water.

Icing bags are not the way to go with this, my friends. Let me tell you. It's so running that it was falling out the tip while I tried to fill the bag. And it just went everywhere. What I plan to do for next time, and I recommend you do as well, is to pick up some of those cheap-o plastic bottles that restaurants use for ketchup. Fill those up and use them to flood the inside of the cookie. You won't get all of the cookie flooded this way - get as much as you can, and then use a tooth pick to spread the icing all the way to the border.

Make sure you give yourself time for these to set. It's best to make them the day before, or several hours before. I made them and had to run out the door and it meant i couldn't stack them - they were too wet still.

But they were pretty and tasty and I'm no longer afraid to tackle decorated sugar cookies!

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