Lime Tinted Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

I hereby officially announce my challenge for 2011: Baking!

Yes, baking as a generalization. All of baking. Sure, I've done more baking this year than, well, ever in my entire life. But I want to be much, much better than I am.

I've been compiling a list of things I want to try. I may not do them all in the next year (I've yet to figure out the logistics of baking this much, since it's just me and Hubster eating said baked goods). BUT, please peruse this list and let me know what I am missing or simply MUST try. I like your input, you blog reader, you.

-Layer Cakes
-Fancy Cupcakes with Fancy Frosting
-Alligator Pastry
-Pie Crust, dammit (especially with a lattice crust)
-Cheesecake (**I've made cheesecake....but not in about 7 years)
-Mini tarts/quiches
-Sourdough bread
-Tiramisu (w/homemade ladyfingers)
-Italian Bread
-Kaiser Rolls
-Pane Siciliano
-Pain a L'ancienne
-Buttermilk Biscuits (the orgasmically good kind)
-Cake Pops
-Annalise's Raspberry Butter Braid Bread
-Petits Fours
-Creme Brulee
-Truffles with a tempered coating

One of the things that was at the top of this list were sugar cookies with royal icing. Before last week, I had never made sugar cookies. Ever. Please don't think less of me. There was just something about them that seemed intimidating--probably the use of a rolling pin. BUT, if there's one thing this whole blogging deal has done for me, it's showing me that nothing is really so difficult in the world of cooking. Or, even if it's difficult, at the very least it isn't scary.

So! It was my coworker Kathy's daughter's birthday. And I decided to make my first-ever batch of sugar cookies with my first-ever attempt at Royal Icing. I figured that a girl of 8 would not mind if the cookies ended up looking like crap. She would just be excited to eat the cookies (particularly if the cookies were decorated with her favorite colors). And so she was.

Look at that face. D'awww....

Lime Tinted Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing (adapted slightly from Everyday Food)
-4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for working
-1 teaspoon baking powder
-3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
-1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
-3/4 cup sugar, plus more for decorating (optional)
-1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
-2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

1. In a food processor, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; pulse to mix. Add butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add sugar, eggs, and lemon zest and process until mixture resembles wet sand.

2. Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured surface; knead several times until dough comes together. Divide into 3 portions; flatten each into a disk. Roll each disk to an 1/8-inch thickness between sheets of parchment. Stack dough (still in parchment) on a baking sheet; refrigerate 20 minutes. (To store, wrap in plastic and freeze on sheet, up to 2 weeks. Thaw until pliable before using.)

3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, with racks in middle and lower thirds. Working with 1 dough sheet at a time, peel off parchment (save for baking). With lightly floured cutters, cut dough into desired shapes and arrange, 1 inch apart, on two parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets (reroll scraps, if desired). Sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Refrigerate 15 minutes.

4. Bake until cookies are set but still pale, 7 to 9 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks and let cool completely. Using a spoon, frost cookies with icing; decorate with sugar, if desired. (To store, cover and keep at room temperature, up to 4 days.)

Kathy's son liked this because it looks like a starfish. Bless children and their imaginations.

Royal Icing (from Sweet Pea's Kitchen)
-4 cups powdered sugar
-2 tablespoons meringue powder
-6 tablespoons water (plus a bit additional)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine powdered sugar and meringue powder. Add water and mix on low speed for 7-10 minutes. Add more water by the teaspoon if it appears too stiff. You want to be able to pipe it easily.

2. Evenly divide the icing into containers based on the number of colors you will be using. Cover with a lid or a wet paper towel when not using so that it does not dry out.
Cut off the ends of your disposable piping bags, insert the coupler, and tip. I like to use a number 2 or 3 piping tip to outline my cookies. Transfer some of the icing into the prepared disposable bags and seal the top closed with a rubber band so it is less messy.

3. Outline the cookies with whatever color you want to flood (background) them. Outline the outside of the cookie using the prepared disposable bags. When you’re outlining the cookie, keep the tip at a 45 degree angle about about 1/2 inch away from the cookie, so that the icing just falls onto the surface. It is much easier to control your piping this way. Let the outlines sit until dry, about 15-20 minutes.

4. Once the outlines are dry you can flood the cookie. Add a few drops of water to the remaining icing in the small bowls until you get the correct consistency. To check for the proper consistency, dip a spoon into the icing and lift it up. The ribbons of icing drizzling into the bowl should disappear and become flat again within 10 seconds. Fill each squeeze bottle with the thinned icing.

5. To flood the cookie, using the prepared squeeze bottles start at one area and quickly zig zag back and forth until you have almost completely covered the cookie. Then take a toothpick and gently use it to distribute the icing to any empty spots. Shake the cookie gently to help settle the bumps if there are any. If you notice any small air bubbles, pop them with a toothpick. Once the cookies are completely flooded, let them sit 2 to 3 hours before adding any additional designs/details to the cookies.

Verdict: Very yummy, not as difficult as previously imagined (naturally). I think these turned out really well for a first attempt, though they are a bit lacking in the looks department. Still, they're much better than anticipated, so I'm giving myself a well deserved pat on the back.

So, let's add this one back onto the baking challenge list: Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.


Victoria said...

Good luck with your baking adventure! Your cookies look great! Don't be so intimidated, a bunch (but not all) of the things on your list are really quite easy. Pie crust is one of my favorites, actually, so easy to make and so rewarding to use instead of the store-bought kind! I have a great recipe on my site if you need one :) Good luck!

briarrose said...

The cookies look wonderful! When I'm in a baking frenzy...which is always....I send the extra goodies in to work with the hubby or pass them off to friends and family. ;)

Rich said...

I don't think they're lacking in the looks department at all! They look fantastic, and I'm sure they taste great, too.

Jamie said...

Victoria above is so right about pie crust! Don't let it intimidate you! Cookies look delish too!!

Anonymous said...

The cookies were delicious....I'm glad the birthday girl decided to share with her mom and brother! :~) I would be happy to test a tasty baked item from your 2011 challenge list for my upcoming birthday!!!

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