Sunday, December 19, 2010

More Trial and Error with Cookies

Yesterday was cold and rainy, so I chickened out of an 8-mile group run and stayed inside to make more cookies.

This was a bit of an odyssey, since I've never really made cookies with visual appeal in mind.  I mean, it's the holidays, and if it looks like a cookie, people are gonna eat it, right?

I should have been able to predict the result, since I'm not artistically inclined and, until yesterday, had never cut out or decorated a cookie before in my life.  Sure, I can mix the ingredients together, throw them in the oven and take them out when the timer goes off, but decorating's another story.

The recipe for the cookies themselves worked out well, and I'll probably use it again or something very much like it, whether I decide to ice them again or not.  The orange extract was something I picked up by mistake a couple of weeks ago but still wanted to use, so it went into the cookie dough in place of vanilla.

Orange star cookies
1 stick butter, cubed
2/3 cup of sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp soy flour mixed with 2 tbsp water (egg substitute)
1 tsp orange extract
5 tbsp milk
2 cups flour

This followed the usual cookie drill - cream the butter and sugar, add the rest except for the flour and combine, then add the flour about 1/2 cup at a time.  Roll into a cylinder, wrap in plastic wrap, then into the fridge for at least an hour. 

When I casually mentioned to Steve a couple of weeks back that I might try my hand at decorated cutout cookies this holiday season, he went out and bought a couple of sets of cookie cutters along with the usual stash of groceries.  One set consists of a snowflake, mitten and cap, and the other has different-sized stars.  I decided to start with one shape only, so I could at least decorate them all the same, so I went with the second-smallest star.

The Country Cook, also a friend from back home (hey Brandie!), recently advised using wax paper for rolling out cookie dough.  This worked out well, especially since I discovered just as it was time to get to work that we don't have a rolling pin in the house and I was going to have to improvise with an iced tea glass. 

The cutting out and baking (350 degrees, 10 minutes) were easy enough.

Then it came time to ice these bad boys.

I used this recipe for the icing but had to change it up a little.  The wet ingredients weren't enough for the powdered sugar, so I added one teaspoon each of milk and corn syrup (regular, not light).  I used orange extract in place of the vanilla.  The orange color was achieved with one drop of red food coloring and two of yellow.

Holy orange, Batman!  Steve and I both sampled it and were reminded of a mandarin orange candy from childhood.  What a difference the extract made - so glad I used it instead of orange juice!

In terms of decorating, I figured I'd try to emulate the cookies pictured at the link for the icing recipe, except that I had the ill-advised idea of also icing the cookies in the side.  So I made the icing recipe all over but used lemon juice (3 teaspoons) in place of the milk, no vanilla or extract and a couple of drops of yellow food coloring.  Another winner in terms of the taste, but...

I guess I was expecting the icing to dry a little harder, but these suckers were messy to ice, even with one of those piping things, and messy to handle after they'd had a while to sit and dry out on the parchment paper.  Also, I ran out of the lemon icing before I was done, so some of these only have the orange icing.

Oh, well.  It was still a nice way to spend a cold, drizzly Saturday, and my hungry co-workers will be getting another surprise on Monday.

Have a nice Sunday and enjoy the sunshine!

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