Just in time for Halloween, I’m posting a couple cookies this week.
First up are my Lemon Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies. In the festive shape of ghosts of course.
I decided this year I was going to perfect my icing techniques. I decided ghosts was a good place to start. Only two colors and one is white, so it cut down on the work. I’ve tried using Royal Icing before but never quite got it right. This time I nailed it.
After some SERIOUS cookie research I discovered that perfect sugar cookies take 4 important factors: Meringue powder, Consistency, Time and Patience.
I’ll start with the Meranigue Powder. This is the KEY to the icing hardening correctly and giving you that classic look. You can find it at any store that sells cake decorating supplies. I found it at Hobby Lobby It was only a couple dollars and the can should last me through MANY cookies to come.
Next Consistency. I don’t mean you need to be consistent, I’m talking about the icing. You need to get it JUST right or the out lines will bleed and the filling won’t fill. For me I worked carefully adding a TINY bit of water to my sugar at a time, making sure I stirred completely to keep the consistency as desired. For the Outline you want a thicker consistency that will hold it’s shape. When you do the inside flooding, you want your icing to be very thin – or run off the back of a spoon.
As far as time and patience go, you really have to be a patient person with a steady hand, and these can’t be made in a rush. To make them look amazing you pretty much have to decorate in 3 Steps, allowing 2 hours dry time between steps.
You start, of course, by baking them and allow them to COMPLETELY cool.
Step one – Outline ALL the cookies in whatever color you will be filling in,
Allow the outlines to dry at least one hour, two is better.
Step Two – Thin out your icing so that it runs down the back of a spoon. Add a small amount to the center of each cookie and use tooth picks to draw the icing to all the edges until the cookie is completely filled in. Make sure to pop any bubbles with your toothpick.
Allow the filling to cool at least TWO hours.
Step Three – Add the detail with black icing, simple dots for eyes and mouth.
Allow to dry at least two hours.
Then you can put them in cute bags and hand them out to impressed friends and loved ones!
Not only did these cookies look good, but they tasted fabulous!
I also got my first opportunity to bake cookies with my two year old son. I got a few pictures of us baking:
Here are the recipes for the cookies and icing I used:
Lemon Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 large egg
2½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
Zest of half a lemon (or a whole lemon, if you love lemon)
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and confectioners’ sugar until smooth and fluffy.
2. Beat in the egg, vanilla, vanilla bean, and lemon zest.
3. Next mix in the flour and salt until just incorporated.
4. Form the dough into a ball and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 1-2 hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and roll out the dough on a floured surface to ¼ inch thickness.
7. Cut with cookie cutters and carefully transfer to baking sheet.
8. Bake 8-10 minutes, until fully cooked but not AT ALL browned.
9. Allow to cool completely. Decorate as desired.
Royal Icing Ingredients:
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water
My love of all things food. I draw my inspiration from everyday life, books, magazines, tv, internet and necessity. As a wife and mom I'm cooking for the toughest critics, a meat and potatoes loving hubby and a picky toddler. I try to keep changing while attempting to keep my food healthy, fresh, easy, fast but most importantly it's gotta be good!
The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs by Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg