From Royal Wedding to Royal Icing…

Yesterday’s Royal Wedding yielded to today’s baby shower, complete with Royal Icing…

My good friend and former college roommate, Kristin, is having her first baby and her shower is today. I wanted to make something special to take with me, and then it came to me… What about adorable, baby-themed cookies decked out with icing? She and her husband are waiting until birth to find out the sex of the child, so I thought duck cookies would be adorable.  Apparently, cookie cutters are not as readily available as good ideas, so I had to improvise. Flowers it is… they are springy and I could decorate them in non-discript yellow and green.  Perfect! And I was off to make cookies…

I had to make ensure that the sugar cookie recipe was dense enough to hold the weight of the icing, and wouldn’t break under the weight. I did some research and found this one:

All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
(Source: Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

Yield: About 50 2-inch cookies

Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.

Working with a stand mixer, perferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated – because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.

Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. If you want to make roll-out cookies, shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. If you want to make slice-and-bake cookies, shape each half into a chubby sausage (the diameter is up to you – I usually like cookies that are about 2 inches in diameter) and wrap in plastic. Whether you’re going to roll or slice the dough, it must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)

Getting Ready to Bake:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

If you are making roll-out cookies, working with one packet of dough at a time, roll out the dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of ¼ inch, lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies – I like a 2-inch round cookie cutter for these. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the rounds onto the baking sheets with a spatula, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies. (This is a soft dough and you might have trouble peeling away the excess or lifting the cutouts; if so, cover the dough, chill it for about 15 minutes and try again.) After you’ve rolled and cut the second packet of dough, you can form the scraps into a disk, then chill, roll, cut and bake.

If you are making slice-and-bake cookies, use a sharp thin knife to slice the dough into ¼-inch-thick rounds, and place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1½ inches between the cookies.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and dust the cookies with sugar or cinnamon sugar, if you’d like. Let them rest for 1 minute before carefully lifting them onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

Repeat with the remaining dough, cooling the baking sheets between batches.

And now, onto the Royal Icing!

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar sifted
  •  meringue powder
  • 5 tbsp. water
Directions:
  • Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment.
  • Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (this takes about 7-10 minutes)
  • Transfer the contents to an air-tight container
  • This will be the stiffist consisntancy of the icing and at this point, it is still too stiff to use for decorating.
  • Add water, a small amount at a time, and stir by hand until it reaches a consistnacy where you can use it to pipe.
  • If you are having difficulty piping, than it is still too think and more water is needed
  • Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie, in the color you would like to use.
  • Let the cookie stand, so the icing sets.  Keep the standing icing covered at all times, so it will not dry out.
Once all of the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the icing to another air tight container and thin out the icing by adding a small amount of water at a time, until the icing runs off the spoon easily when lifted out of the icing.  If you happen to go too far with the water, and you find it too thin, you can thicken it by adding more powdered sugar.
Transfer the icing to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole cut in one corner) and flood the area surrpunded by the piping.  If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along.  Let them stand for the icing to set.
Use the thicker icing (or an icing gel pen) to decorate the cookies if desired.

Source: adapted from Katie of Good Things Catered

I was happy with how they turned out.  There were a few that didn’t fit into the box, so Doug and I enjoyed those… and they were tasty!  Let me know if you make them and how they turn out.  You can do holiday cookies, Football jerseys or some just for fun… Enjoy!

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