It is a miracle that this is actually going to post today. The icing on these lovely cookies is still wet, and my fingers are dyed a nice reddish orange. But, it is done, and it is delicious.
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.
Thankfully I am an old pro at this sugar cookie decorating thing. Well, I am not a pro but I have all the necessary cookie equipment and I don’t make as many mistakes and I did when I first starting doing this. I have an icing recipe I like and trust, and I know how long the process takes to do it well. I could have used an extra day to really make a polished looking and impressive cookie, but the two days I gave myself was just enough time.
For this challenge we were to make a basic sugar cookie and decorate them with a September theme. I am sure I am not the only one who immediately thought of fall and the changing seasons. So, I decided to try something I had not tried before…marbling my icings. I wanted to create a fall colored leaf with all the lovely red, orange and yellow hues that display themselves this time of year. While some are better looking than others, I was really pleased with the results. I simply dropped a few colors of icing on the cookie and spread them around with a toothpick to create the marbling.
I started with 5 different colors of icing using gel colors. That is a must if you want deep colors and not the pale colors you’d get if you use the water based ones you use to dye easter eggs. I use a Toba Garret icing recipe to flood the cookies. It has a good consistency, it dries well, and it tastes good. I always flavor this icing with almond extract, a little something I picked up from my mom. She always adds a little almond extract to whipped cream and I will never do it any other way.
I enjoyed this challenge even though I had to rush to get it done in time. It is nice to have a reason to make decorated cookies since they are a bit time consuming. Ben’s office is getting the tray of these tomorrow!
Here is the cookie recipe from the challenge, and below is my favorite sugar cookie icing from Toba Garrett.
Basic Sugar Cookies
- ½ cup + 6 Tbsp Unsalted Butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups + 3 Tbsp All Purpose / Plain Flour
- 1 cup Caster Sugar / Superfine Sugar
- 1 Large Egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract Or seeds from 1 vanilla bean
- Cream together the butter, sugar and any flavourings you’re using. Beat until just becoming creamy in texture. Tip: Don’t over mix otherwise you’ll incorporate too much air and the cookies will spread during baking, losing their shape.
- Beat in the egg until well combined, make sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add the sifted flour and mix on low until a non sticky dough forms.
- Knead into a ball and divide into 2 or 3 pieces.
- Roll out each portion between parchment paper to a thickness of about 5mm/1/5 inch (0.2 inch)
- Refrigerate for a minimum of 30mins.
- Once chilled, peel off parchment and place dough on a lightly floured surface.
- Cut out shapes with cookie cutters or a sharp knife.
- Arrange shapes on parchment lined baking sheets and refrigerate for another 30mins to an hour. Tip: It’s very important you chill them again otherwise they’ll spread while baking.
- Re-roll scraps and follow the above process until all scraps are used up.
- Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C Fan Assisted) / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.
- Bake until golden around the edges, about 8-15mins depending on the size of the cookies. Tip: Bake same sized cookies together otherwise mixing smaller with larger cookies could result in some cookies being baked before others are done.
- Leave to cool on cooling racks.
- Once completely cooled, decorate as desired.
- 1 pound (454 g) powdered sugar
- 3/8 cup (90 ml) whole milk
- 3/8 cup (4.5 oz or 126 g) light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- In a mixing bowl, thoroughly mix the sugar and the milk first. The icing should be very soft and have a heavy-cream texture before you add the corn syrup. Add the corn syrup and mix just until combined.
- Divide the icing into several bowls. Flavor each bowl with extracts, alcohol or candy oils. Color each bowl of icing as desired. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to prevent drying until you’re ready to use it.