Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Have A Cookie Party!

By Lauren Dahl

You and your friends can have a good time baking cookies together. 

A weeknight cookie-making party is perfect. Gather at a girlfriend’s home, and bake your hearts out. Each person can bring ingredients for one type of cookie, and together you can prepare all cookies for all of your holiday plans. Cookie dough freezes wonderfully, so this is perfect for those events that are weeks away.

Be as creative as you want when decorating your cookies. 

Try decorating with edible, trendy watercolor designs. Start with gel food coloring and vodka. We used a toothpick to spoon a bit of each color you choose on a section of a plate, and use a small drop of vodka to thin out the mixture. Fill a small dish with vodka, and use that to wash out your brushes as well.

You can freeze leftover cookie dough, then bake a batch for an upcoming event.

Sugar Cookies
By Paige Rhodes, MyModernCookery.com

3/4 cup unsalted butter, slightly softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (adds incredible flavor)
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until creamed and smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the egg, vanilla, and almond extract and beat on high until fully combine, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Whisk the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl. Turn the mixer to low and add about half of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined. Add the rest of the flour and continue mixing until just combined. If the dough still seems too soft, add 1 Tablespoon more flour until it is a better consistency for rolling.

Divide the dough into 2 equal parts. Roll each portion out onto a piece of parchment to about 1/4″ thickness. Stack the pieces (with parchment paper) onto a baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. Chilling is mandatory.

Once chilled, preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2-3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Remove one of the dough pieces from the refrigerator and using a cookie cutter, cut in shapes. Transfer the cut cookie dough to the prepared baking sheet. Re-roll the remaining dough and continue cutting until all is used.

Bake for 8-11 minutes, until very lightly colored on top and around the edges. Make sure you rotate the baking sheet halfway through bake time. My cookies take about 9 minutes. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before icing.

Fool-Proof Royal Icing

1 lb confectioners sugar
5 tbsp meringue powder
warm water as needed (about 1/4-1/2 cup)

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the confectioners' sugar and meringue powder until combined. Add the water a little bit at a time and beat on medium to high speed until very glossy and stiff peaks form (5 to 7 minutes). If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more powdered sugar or water. To cover or 'flood' the entire surface of the cookie with icing, the proper consistency is when you lift the beater, the ribbon of icing that falls back into the bowl remains on the surface of the icing for a few seconds before disappearing.

TIP: I like to use a plastic squeeze bottle instead of a piping bag to ice my cookies. Plus, you can buy them at any grocery store for about $1.
TIP: Bake and ice the cookies the night before you need them to allow the icing to harden before decorating.
TIP: Meringue powder is available at any craft store and in the cake decorating section of your local supermarket.

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