Monday, April 18, 2011

Cookies galore

I had a couple different objectives in mind when making up a batch of dough this weekend and I think I’d consider all of them a success!

Goal 1: Try out some tweaks to my usual sugar cookie and frosting recipes
Last weekend I tried a different recipe for rolled sugar cookies while trying flooded sugar cookies for the first time (see the results here). I loved the slight almond flavor of the cookies but the texture wasn’t what I was used to from my usual recipe. So, here’s what I came up with – the best of both worlds.

This recipe makes delicious, soft, chewy cookies.

Rolled Sugar Cookies
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups butter
3 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

1. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Set aside.
2. In electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and extracts. Gradually add the flour mixture. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
4. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Sugar Cookie Frosting
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup shortening
5-9 tablespoons milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
food coloring (optional)

1. In a large bowl, begin creaming together the confectioners' sugar and shortening at low speed with an electric mixer.
2. Add 4 tablespoons of milk and the extracts.
3. If needed, add additional milk a little at a time until you get the desired consistency. It should be thick and smooth. Divide and color with food coloring if desired.

Goal 2: Figure out how I’m going to decorate cookies for a birthday party next month
I’m always looking for reasons to bring treats into work – I love to make them... and also love to spread out the calories! I’ve brought my sugar cookies a few times and one of my coworkers recently asked if I could make them for her daughter’s 5th birthday party.

I was so flattered and of course I said yes! I’m very much looking forward to making them. I’m going to be making flowers in two sizes – 1” and 3”. I had a 3” flower cutter which I’ve used before but not a 1”. So I headed to Michael’s and got the 1” size. 

So I got my test batch made but I decided my usual way of frosting them – with just a knife – wouldn’t suffice. I wanted something more special for a 5 year old girl who loves pink and purple and sparkles (from what her mom tells me :-). And plus, I wouldn’t turn down a chance to play with making things pink and sparkly and adorable! We’re talking the same language - this is a girl after my own heart!

First I made up a batch of my sugar cookie frosting.

Then I divided it up into four bowls and picked colors.

I used my new Wilton gel paste food coloring to color the frosting. I decided on pink, purple, and blue for the flowers.

It doesn't take much color with the gel colors.
A mix of Teal and Royal Blue

And this is what we get! I've learned after using these a few times that the color gets a lot deeper as it dries. You can tell in the final photos.

With gel coloring you use toothpicks to add color to the frosting.

Then I got out some piping bags, put a coupler tip in each one.

I snipped the bag and added a piping tip to each one.
Push the coupler piece as far down as it will go.

Snip off the end of the bag just a bit past the end of the coupler.

Add a decorating tip and screw on the other piece of the coupler.
Then I prepped the bags for filling. If the frosting has started to crust at all while coloring the other dishes, give it a good stir before adding it to the bag.
Fold the bag over the edges of the glass and fill

Hold filled bag under cuff and pull down near the coupler
with the other hand to fold up the edges of the bag.

After they were filled, I twisted the tops and added a twist tie to secure them.

And we’re ready to pipe on our frosting!

I tried a few different designs, piping the frosting onto the flowers with different size decorating tips. Nothing was turning out (luckily mistakes still taste good when it comes to decorating!). Finally I came up with a few things I liked. I think they turned out pretty cute.

Sugar cookie sandwiches - complete with shimmer dust!

I love the shimmer dust on the cookies, it’s so cute! I think they’re perfect for a little girl’s birthday party. I hope she loves them! Today I brought in a little box filled with them for my coworker to bring home.

Goal 3: Experiment with cookie pops
I was excited to try this one out. I have a few ideas for cookie pops coming up and I figured since I was making a batch of dough to test stuff out with, I might as well test this out too.

I’ll be using my cookie pops in a project later this week so I will post photos and instructions for that then.

Goal 4: Try out some of my fun new decorating toys
On Sunday I picked up the Wilton Ultimate Decorating Kit from Michael’s (yay for 50% off coupons!). 177 pieces of cake/cookie-decorating joy.

I bought it in prep for starting the Wilton Decorating Basics class in a couple weeks. And there are two more courses after that one but I haven’t decided yet if/when I will take them.

When I was done frosting the cookies I used the rest of the frosting to try out some of the different decorating tips. Unfortunately by the time I got this far my frosting was of a thinner consistency than would have been ideal, probably because I’d been handling it and it had warmed up. But I practiced my writing with these cool practice sheets they give you. It was fun but I will need a lot more practice I’m sure!

I have a full week of treats to make this week. Thanks for stopping by... Happy Monday!

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