Friday, April 8, 2011

Cutout Cookie-mania

My friend, Lisa, started a craft group a couple of months ago, and we meet one Friday a month.  I've met a few new friends, including Chantal who is an expert quilter and seamstress.  Today was my day to host and pick the theme.  I sometimes feel like I'm all thumbs when it comes to crafts (especially if needles are involved), so I chose to do something I know a little something about:  Cookies!

We learned how to decorate cutout cookies with royal icing.  Even though I am the daughter of a former cake-decorating genius mom, I had never worked with royal icing before.  So we all learned together!

On a roll

I started by making about 4 dozen cutout cookies in Spring shapes:  snails, bunnies, dragonflies, butterflies, frogs, and flowers.

Here's the recipe I use.  The cookies are nice and soft and have a good flavor.  They also roll out beautifully.

Cream Cheese Cutout Cookies
(click here to print recipes)

2 sticks butter, softened
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour

Cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy.  Gradually add the sugar and beat well.  Add the egg yolk and vanilla and mix thoroughly.  Turn the mixer to low speed and gradually add the flour, mixing until just combined.

Flatten the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill for about 30 minutes or so.  In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough on parchment paper or another non-stick surface, to about 1/4 inch thickness.  Cut into desired shapes and place on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 9-10 minutes or until barely brown around the edges.  Let cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling racks.

Next, I had to figure out how to make royal icing.  I looked on YouTube (isn't the internet great?!) and found that royal icing is used two ways on cutout cookies:  It's piped around the edge of the cookies to form a barrier (dam), and the inside of the cookie is then flooded with thinned icing.

Here is the recipe I used since I didn't want to use raw egg whites:

Royal Icing

4 cups sifted powdered sugar (about 1 lb.)
3 Tbsp. meringue powder (available near the cake decorating supplies)
6-8 Tbsp. warm water
1/4 tsp. lemon extract (or extract of your choice)

Combine all ingredients and beat with electric mixer on LOW for 8-10 minutes.  The icing should initially have the consistency of a thick Elmer's glue. (Ribbons will stay on the surface of the icing when the beaters are lifted.)

Divide the icing into bowls and tint with food coloring.  Put each color into a separate piping bag (we used quart-sized ziptop bags fitted with a #3 or #4 plain tip.  Clip off the edge of bag if using that.  Pipe around the outside of cookies to form a barrier.

Let dry for about 10 minutes.  Then thin the remaining colored  frosting with a little water so that it is about the consistency of heavy cream.  Pour into squeeze bottles and flood the interior of the cookie (i.e., fill it in).  Use a toothpick to spread the frosting around and to pop any bubbles you see.  Decorate with sprinkles, sanding sugar, or however you desire!

Here's how it all looked when we finished:

Oh wait.  That's probably not what you wanted to see!

I wish that I could claim that these beauties were mine, but let's just say we definitely had an overachiever or two in the group!  We all felt like we gained insight into decorating holiday cookies in a new way, and we had a blast making these and just hanging out.

I think next month we may be doing something with...needles.  Uh oh.

Linking to:


Gail said...

Thanks for sharing the recipe and the results - very cute.

Chantal said...

Vicki, thanks for a lovely morning at your beautiful home. I am so excited that I can ice cookies now. You went to so much trouble for us and I just want to say thank you and tell you how much I enjoyed our craft group yesterday morning.
Hope you are having a good weekend!

Little Brick Ranch said...

Girl - you have patience to make those so beautiful!! Thanks for linking up to Foodie Friday. Oh, and if you haven’t done so already - don’t forget to pop on over to Little Brick Ranch to enter the GIVEAWAY!!! I’ll give you a hint...Homes, Food, and all things Frugal!!

cindy said...

I love your craft club idea. It so fun to learn new things. Your cookies look great. I've played with royal icing a bit. It is fun! Keep learning new things. That's what makes life interesting.