Wednesday, 6 February 2013

More Valentine cookies

I've been on a bit of a cookie baking tear lately. I don't know if it's because it's so cold out, or that I'm procrastinating about grant writing, or because the boys keep telling me how delicious they are. Whatever the reason, it's not meshing so well with my lose five-to-ten pounds before summer tear.

This week I baked up another set of Valentine cookies - 'tis the season I guess. I used the same recipe for the sugar cookies that I used last week, but decided to decorate them with Royal Icing this time. I've admired pretty iced cookies for years, but always thought it would be difficult to do. It's not!

Well, I'm sure it takes a lot of practice to make them perfect, but even a neophyte can do a decent looking job with a little care. The secret is in the icing. There are lots of tutorials on the web for making royal icing and decorating cookies - I used the one on Sugarbelle's website. Before you click the link, be warned that hours of your life may disappear as you marvel at all of the beautiful and creative cookies she makes.

Royal Icing
1 kg bag of icing sugar
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp meringue powder
3/4 cup water
2 tsp clear vanilla
Add the icing sugar and meringue powder to the bowl of the mixer. Using the whisk attachment, mix briefly to blend together. Add the water and vanilla to the dry ingredients and mix on medium speed for 5-6 minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. When the icing has the consistency of thick pudding, increase the mixer speed to high for 3-4 more minutes. At the end, the icing should look fluffy like meringue, and be stiff enough to hold very firm peaks.

The icing can then be divided into smaller aliquots and coloured using gel food dye. It also needs to be thinned down a bit according to what you want to use it for. I made one thickness, about the consistency of toothpaste to outline the edge of the cookie, and then a thinner icing to flood the inside. If you outline and flood immediately, the edges all blend together and give a smooth coating. If you wait for the outline to dry a bit, you get a defined line of icing around the edge.

Anyway, if you want to try it out, take a look at Sugarbelle's tutorials. They tell you everything you need to know. As for me, I'm hooked! Hope it doesn't eat into my home reno time too much.

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