Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers, September: Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.

The recipe is here.

I enjoy making and decorating sugar cookies, so I had fun with this challenge.

Daring Bakers September: Decorated Sugar Cookies
The framework for a stained glass cookie.

I'd used cake decorator extraordinaire Colette Peters' stained glass technique on a wedding cake project for my Advanced Pastry Arts class, so I thought it would be fun to try it here, too. In fact, I still had some old piping gel sitting around, so I decided to use it up. Which meant I didn't actually eat this cookie afterward because that piping gel was older than dirt.

Daring Bakers September: Decorated Sugar Cookies
A plated Starry Night.

Daring Bakers September: Decorated Sugar Cookies
Here's a closeup.

Daring Bakers September: Decorated Sugar Cookies
I also made some retro flowers, or flowery blobs I didn't do more with because I was lazy.

I wasn't sure if I'd like these cookies. Mandy said she'd picked the recipe because it wouldn't spread, and they're the best recipe I've tried that doesn't. it's true that they didn't spread very much--just a tad bit, so do space them more than just a half inch apart. They did shrink back down half a tad bit after baking, though. I was worried about how they'd taste because the dough tasted almost like play-doh, but the cookies were tasty and even better with my almond-flavored icing. I usually half or quarter the DB recipes so I don't have a ton of baked goods in the house (unless there's a party going on), but it was tricky to split this recipe because it used only 1 egg, so I just made the full batch. I baked only half the batch of dough and the rest is in the freezer--hopefully I can either make more successful cookies or a tart crust out of it. It's quick, easy, and tasty, so I call this recipe a keeper.

-I didn't bother turning my chilled, rolled-out dough onto a floured surface to cut my shapes out--I just cut them out on the paper and transferred them to a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

-This dough was awesome--soft, but not sticky, and very easy to roll out. I rolled it out a bit more thinly than the recipe instructed and baked them for 10 minutes, pulling them just as the edges started to brown.

-I used a standard royal icing recipe--a ratio of 1 cup powdered sugar to 3 tsp. whole milk. I used my stand mixer to make the icing, which was a mistake since it left clumps of powdered sugar at the bottom and around the sides, forcing me to stop the mixing every few seconds to scrape everything together. I should've used my awesome hand mixer (she thought, hoping she'd remember the next time since she forgot once again this time after promising herself she'd never forget). Once the icing made, it's easier to adjust the consistency, making it thicker or thinner by adding more sugar or milk, respectively. I used gel food coloring to color my icing so it wouldn't affect the icing's consistency.

-Once you've finished decorating the cookies, let them sit out to dry for several hours if you plan to stack or individually bag them. If you don't, you'll have an unintentional cookie stack and some really messed up icing. I know this from experience.

-For the stained glass cookie, I used thick black royal icing for the framework and colored piping gel for the faux glass. You can buy clear gel from cake decorating stores or just use the colored piping gel in tubes that are sold off the supermarket shelves. Or, if you have a bunch of corn syrup sitting around, you can make it yourself using this recipe:

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 T cold water
2 c light corn syrup
1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a small saucepan and let set for 5 minutes. Heat on low until the gelatin dissolves--DO NOT BOIL.
2. Add and heat the syrup thoroughly.
3. Cool and store, refrigerated, for up to 2 months.
To Color: Add gel food coloring or regular food coloring for color.

Check out my fellow DBers' projects--you can click to their blogs through our blogroll.

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