Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Cookie Rush

For Christmas, my extended family pulls names for the grown folks, buys for the kids and exchanges "family gifts." I decided to bake cookies this year. I baked on Monday and decorated on Tuesday. The baking was easy. I wanted to revisit the Cook's Illustrated butter cookie recipe and decorate them properly this time. I chose circles (in hopes of making cookies that looked like ornaments), snowflakes, Christmas trees, stars, stockings and candy canes.

Make the dough, chill it, roll, cut and chill it again. I roll the dough between parchment or Silpats. I tried the Silpats after I noticed that the parchment tended to wrinkle underneath the dough. Just make sure you flip the dough over to make sure it doesn't wrinkle. I also use rings on my rolling pin to make sure the dough is the correct thickness.

I think the metal cutters are sharper, I just don't like the way some of them bend out of shape so easily. For really intricate designs, use metal cutters.

Save the scraps from each initial rolling and roll them together for a final batch.
Everything baked up nicely. Let the decorating begin (after cooling of course)! My favorite spatula for transferring cookies to the cooling rack is a WMF flexible nylon spatula. I wanted a nonstick spatula that resembled a fish spatula. This is the best I've found.

Now for the fun (and slightly stressful) part -- decorating! I made two types of icing, melted fondant and royal icing. The fondant was the easiest. I melted it in the microwave with glucose, lemon juice and sugar syrup. After tinting, I just dipped the cookies in and sat them on cooling racks to dry. I noticed that if I used more sugar syrup to thin the fondant, it dried with a glossy finish.

Royal icing is always difficult for me to make and I don't know why. For these cookies, I kept it white. I used it for the tops of the stockings, candy cane stripes and decorations on the snowflakes. The candy canes did not turn out well. Too much icing for such a small cookie; it was like eating raw sugar. I couldn't get the stripes right either. I ended up throwing them away.

I used white, red and green sanding sugar to finish the cookies. I placed them in cellophane bags tied with ribbon and packed them off to the post office. I hope they're enjoyed.

Tools of the trade:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The cookies were F A B U L O U S! I had the pleasure of eating the goodie bag pictured. They were the perfect balance of soft - like your grandma made - yet hard enough to dip in milk. Try the recipe!

Lady T