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Spring Sugar Cookies and Royal Icing

 

I love cookies. I love sweets in general, but there is something about a good cookie that makes everything feel better sometimes. Cocktails are good for this too, but this post is about cookies, so more about those… Royal icing really elevates the cookie appearance. I have to be honest my icing game has not been the strongest. I think back to the party favors I handed out for my son’s first birthday. I tried to decorate them with polka dots which turned into sharp points of icing that probably tortured everyone eating them. I should have added a note that said “best enjoyed if dunked in coffee…you know to dull the icing spikes” But I didn’t give up. I made some cookies for Christmas that I tried to decorate. #FAIL They were horrible! They tasted delicious, but it looked like my 3 year old made them. But, I tried again. These turned out significantly better than any of the other iced cookies I’ve attempted. I also found this meringue powder which I swear elevated the icing flavor/texture. For the cookies, I’ve used various recipes for the cookie. Personally, I tend to prefer a softer cookie, so I rolled the dough a bit thicker and removed the cookies from the oven at the 8 minute mark. You can certainly adjust to your preference, and frost to enjoy.

 

Ingredients

For the Cookies

For the Royal Icing

Instructions

To make the Cookies

  1. Add the butter to the bowl of your standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix on medium high until the butter is light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add in the powdered sugar. Mix on low, increasing the speed a bit once the butter and sugar are combined. (This will help prevent that snow storm effect that happens when you put the mixing speed on too fast at first).
  2. Add in the egg, vanilla, lemon zest, salt and flour. Mix on low speed until just combined.
  3. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge for about an hour.
  4. lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out. Use any shapes you would like to cut the dough. Place on a prepared baking sheet. and bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Once the cookies are cooled completely, you can begin to frost!

To make the royal icing

  1. Sift the powdered sugar into the bowl of your standing mixer. To do this. I usually use a fine mesh strainer placed over the bowl. Add the powdered sugar to the strainer and tap lightly.
  2. Add the meringue powder and water to the bowl with the sugar and mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance. This should take a few minutes, about 5 or so. If it still looks shiny, continue to mix the icing until the shine disappears. At this point, the icing will be fairly stiff.
  3. You will want to being to thin the icing out to pipe the cookies. You want to add just a small amount of water to the bowl at a time. This will help prevent you from making the icing too thin. The appropriate texture for piping is stiff enough to hold it's shape and not bleed, but soft enough to not leave any sharp points.
  4. Once you have reached the appropriate consistency, you can use food coloring to alter the frosting to whatever colors you want. Don't worry about this thinning the frosting out too much. I just wouldn't recommend adding a whole bottle, unless you are making a gigantic batch of icing. To do this, divide the frosting into a few airtight containers (enough for the colors you would like to make) and add the food coloring. Place enough of the color, "piping icing", into bottles or bags to pipe your cookies. Let the icing set before you begin to fill the cookies.
  5. With the remaining frosting, you will want to thin it out so that you can flood the cookies. Add small bits of water to the icing, until the shine has disappeared and the frosting is smooth. The texture should be thick, but drip off of a spoon easily and immediately reincorporate into the icing.
  6. Add the thinned icing to squeeze bottles and let it sit for a bit to allow any air bubbles that have been created to disappear. You can now flood the cookies! You want to add enough to fill the piped area, but not so much that it drips over the sides. Using a tooth pick you can pop any additional bubbles that may appear and also spread the icing to fill the small gaps. Once you are done flooding your cookies, let them dry for about an hour before you begin to decorate with the left over piping icing. If you want to add any sparkly sugar to dress them up, let the icing sit for a bit then add it on. You don't want to to fully incorporate, but you definitely want it to adhere.

Notes

This recipe was slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats.

Homemade Bunny Peeps

Peeps! I feel like you either love them or hate them. I happen to love them, but when they hit that super stale point when most people might find them too gross to consume. But making them myself was a total game changer. I actually appreciated the flavor of the fresh peep. I loved using the bright color sugar to dress them up and the hint of chocolate to make the adorable “faces” only enhances the treat. For this particular version, I made the bunny shape. My son insisted on using his Iron Man mold, but since I was doing an Easter/Spring theme for the blog this week, we passed and I went for the bunny mold (side note, I did have to promise that we would make Iron Man marshmallows soon). I purchased the silicon mold at Target, what feels like eons ago, and was excited to finally get to use it. This particular recipe is great because you don’t need to let them set for as long. The down side is that it starts to set quickly so you do need to move quickly if you are opting for the molds. But don’t fret, even if they look a little wonky in the mold, when you pop them out they will look just fine. Sprinkled with colorful sugar they are perfect! This recipe really was super easy to make. This is coming from someone whose track record with homemade marshmallows is not that great. If you are looking for something fun to try, I would encourage you to give this recipe a shot.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Lightly coat your silicon mold or pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of your standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, add the gelatin and 1/4 cup of cold water and let sit.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, add your sugar and 1/3 cup of water. Whisk together and heat over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring and let the sugar mixture cook until it's hit the softball stage, between 235-240 degrees. (You will want to get a candy thermometer for this!)
  4. Once the syrup reaches the softball stage, remove from the heat. With the mixer on low, stream the hot sugar mixture into the mixing bowl, avoiding the sides and beaters. Once all of the syrup is added, increase the speed to medium-high and beat for about 8-10 minutes. The mixture should become thick, turn white, and should hold soft peaks.
  5. At this point, immediately begin to spoon the mixture into the prepared mold.
  6. Let the marshmallows sit for a minute in the mold before removing. Note, the marshmallows will always be a bit sticky, even when they are ready to be removed. I found I had to pry and stretch (and pray) a bit to get them out, but they are resilient and kept their shape.
  7. After you get one out, place it right on top of the color sugar and coat thoroughly. Repeat until the are all covered.
  8. To make the chocolate, mix a bit of cocoa powder and water to form a looser paste. Using a toothpick, dip the tip into the mixture to make the eyes and nose.

Notes

This recipe is from 52 Kitchen Adventures via Martha Stewart.