Swiss Meringue Sugar Stamps

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Vintage Rosebuds and Thank You Sugar Stamps

  Of all social media, I have to say that Instagram and Pinterest are my favorites.  Particularly so when it comes to cataloging ideas for my cookies.  Especially with Instagram, you’re quick to see trends as they’re trending.  That’s how I came across meringue kisses on sugar stamps. Meringue isn’t a new culinary concept, but it isn’t the easiest of things to achieve.  Don’t believe me?  Go try it.  Humidity plays a huge factor in the success of your meringue, not to mention if you get even a drop of egg yolk in your egg whites, don’t even bother attempting to whip them.  One thing I’ve learned about baking is you have to follow the recipe, at least until you know what you’re doing.  With meringue, you either get it right, or you don’t.  There isn’t a lot of in-between, but when you get it right, you’ll know it.

I got the sugar stamps from The Cookie Countess

Which come with a sheet of tips, and I highly recommend you read it a few times until you are solid on the execution.

Prep before you make the meringue: You should have your sugar stamps on a baking sheet, sugar stamp side up (the side that the meringue is going to stick to when baked).  Honestly, making the meringue is the hardest part, the rest is super easy. Have your piping bag ready with the tip in and sides folded over so you can fill it when the meringue is ready.  Sorry I forgot to take pictures of the bag, but you can find plenty of images on the internet if you don’t know what I’m talking about.

I’m not going to go into the swiss meringue recipe, as it’s all over the internet and also comes with the sugar stamps.  Once your meringue is ready, fill your bag and tie off the end with a pastry bag tie.  You can use a plain tip or a fluted tip, whatever suits your fancy to the type of kiss you want to achieve.  I used a large fluted tip for cake/cupcake decorating so the kiss would be large.

You want to hold the tip directly over the sugar stamp so its tip is centered when releasing.  You’ll get better with each one you make and don’t worry if they’re not perfect, even the imperfect ones look great.  Plus, you’re going to bag them or pile them in a bowl, so you can put the imperfect ones on the bottom or just eat those yourself.

Once you’re done piping, you bake them at 175 degrees for 60 mins.  Test one to see if they’re completely done before pulling the whole pan out, because one you take the pan out, you need to work quickly to remove each or the stamp doesn’t pull off properly.  I recommend testing the largest kiss because if it’s done, all the rest are done.  Be sure not to overcook or the egg white will turn off-yellow. Not pretty if they’re all white, not a big deal if you used food coloring.

Once done, take them out of the oven and pull each kiss off by grabbing it firmly and lifting it up towards you.  If you pull it straight up it will damage the stamp. You want to be quick, but consistent on how you lift each kiss off the stamp sheet.  You’ll see what I mean if you do this wrong.  If they cool, the stamp will not successfully pull away on the kiss so do work efficiently once they’re out of the oven.  If you get interrupted you can always put them back in for about 10 mins and reattempt.

That’s it though.  So simple and such a lovely gift for any occasion.  Enjoy!!

Jellycat Bashful Baby Shower Cookies

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One of my favorite things about baby shower cookies is that it doesn’t matter what the theme is, you know it will be cute as hell.  I hadn’t heard of Bashful before a friend asked me to make cookies for a baby shower she’s hosting, Bashful-themed.

I used a scalloped 3’ x 3” cutter, baked 12 cookies and got to work on how to execute the design.

Unlike many cookie decorators, I don’t have the KopyKate Projector yet, so with each project my approach varies.  For this design, I found an image online and snapped a photo with my iphone that I’ll trace directly from my phone. Because I want my image to be scaled to the cookie cutter size, I trace the cookie cutter on a square of paper and place the paper over my cell phone with the image open, with the phone on brightest setting so the image shines through the paper. Holding the paper in one place, I then trace the image (which if you’ve never done this before, your phone acts like a lightbox and makes it really easy to trace). I then cut out the image so I can lay it on the cookie to trace with a Sweet Sugar Belle Marker, like the one you see in the picture. I actually cut each of the ears off in order to best trace where the head and ear connect. This process is really your own to do how you please, it’s all trial and error, so just go for it.  You can’t help but learn how to do it better with each design. Once all 12 cookies were traced and ready for icing, I made a full batch of icing and separated out enough to make thick black and thick white icing for outlining and black and white 10 second icing to fill in each outlined section. Here’s a link to blogpost with photos of different royal icing consistencies, compliments of The Bearfoot Baker Royal Icing Consistency

 

To start, I iced the background with white icing (of which I added a little bit of color flow mix, to give it a different look from the dog icing and also to prevent bleeding). One by one all 12 cookie backgrounds were iced and went straight into the dehydrator, with the door open.  I leave the door open for at least an hour because my dehydrator lowest setting is 105 degrees.  95 degrees would be best, but leaving the door off works too.

Now, the time consuming part, filling in each section and waiting for it to dry enough before moving on to the section next to the dried icing. Unfortunately, because this batch got started late (due to the last minute henna order) I only had a weekend to dedicate to these, which meant each weekday evening was spent doing little bits of the dog, letting it dry, then returning to it the next night.  Definitely not a preferred method for many reasons, but that was the only option to get them boxed and delivered on time.  For this reason I don’t have many pictures of each icing steps, as I was laser-focused on merely getting them done on time.  Ever had a last minute order that required lots of steps and dry time? I’d love to hear your tricks to cutting out a step or two!

Once the dog was fully iced, I used an xacto knife to etch the stuffed animal stitching, then used a paintbrush (used for cookies only) to texturize the fur. This can also be time consuming because you have to take care to not get the black on the white icing and vice versa. (in hindsight, maybe I should’ve done all the white sections first, texture and all, then the black. Food for thought).  Once all done, the final touch is to add some sparkle with Disco Dust. To apply, I use a small salt well of gin or vodka, as the vehicle for the dust to adhere to (any clear alcohol works or even clear extract. Just take care that you don’t use a brown extract on white icing). Apply a light coat of alcohol on the areas of the cookie you want dusted, then using a food safe brush (the large kind that looks like a blush brush) to dust each cookie.  Then the cookies go back in the dehydrator for final drying time of at least 30 minutes, then they’re ready for boxing.

Henna Heart Cookies

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A friend wanted some cookies for her granddaughter’s henna themed, 13th birthday party.  8 hearts/8 hands. She ordered the cutters and her idea was to decorate the hands with henna, cut the heart out of the center of the hand, decorated with 13. I normally purchase all cutters myself so that I can ensure its size, delivery time, etc., however because this was a last minute order, she ordered the cutters (hand and heart), and the hand turned out to be rather large.  The cutters were made to be used together in this fashion, but whomever the maker is, clearly hasn’t actually used them to experience how impractical they are together. Primarily so because when the heart shape is cut from the center of the hand, it left little dough around the fingers to support the weight of the cookie and the fingers would break off. (see what I mean in the photo?)

I managed to bake all 8 hands after figuring out it worked best to not cut the heart out until the hand was on the baking pan (so I didn’t have to transfer it, which would cause the dough to break). While I succeeded in baking them, as I iced the first hand, it broke when moving it to the dehydrator.  Cookies break all the time, well…enough times to manage by icing the break well enough so it’s unnoticeable.  However, these were just too large and weak from the heart cut out.

I chose orange and pink as the base icing colors and lots of other colors to decorate the henna.  The designs that make up henna are themselves simple to execute, but the time it takes it A LOT because of the many small details and drying time. Knowing what I was up against, I decided to merely ice the hands with a basic layer of icing and put 13 on these instead.  Then decorating the hearts with henna. Even though I decorated them differently than requested I knew this was the best course of action and my friend would be happy with them regardless.  The big take away for myself was to always select the cutter or evaluate it before it’s purchased (if I’m not buying it).

All in all, they actually turned out beautifully, don’t you think?

Basketball & Jersey Numbers Cookie Set

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This set of cookies requires a relatively basic icing skill set, but because of the basketball texture, jersey number icing technique and edible ink logo, took several days to complete.  I selected my cookie cutter sizes around the basketball cutter size, so all cookies were the same scale.  I used my basic vanilla/almond sugar cookie dough recipe for these.  (TIP: a little trick for those new bakers, if you roll out your cookie dough (¼” thickness) between two layers of parchment and chill for 30 minutes, you will save yourself a lot of time and frustration.  Otherwise, your rock hard, ball of cookie dough has to come down to room temperature in order to roll it out. If you’re like me and want to get down to business once the dough is ready, this will make your cookie baking days so much brighter. Fortunately for me, I had the experience of baking cookies for a few years when I had to buy a new refrigerator so I bought one with a middle, slide-out drawer. It’s perfect for holding a sheet of freshly, rolled cookie dough!

If you’re using plastic cutters, I find having a plate of flour to dip the cutter in with each cut prevents the cutter from sticking to the dough, when your dough is not firmly chilled.  Of course this works well with metal cutters too.  Place each cookie 1 “ apart if they’re small, 2 “ apart if the cookie is larger than 3”.  You really do need that space around the cookie for it to bake evenly.  I baked each pan of cookies at 350 degree for 7-8 minutes, on parchment paper.  Parchment is great for stopping the baking process once you remove the cookies from the oven. I use a small pampered chef metal spatula, which is thin enough to easily slide under the cookie and not tear it when lifting.  (TIP: if you’re working with a larger cookie, let it cool for a few minutes on the parchment before attempting to move it to the cooling rack.  Again, the parchment has stopped the cookie from baking so you’re not going to overcook the cookies by leaving them there).

While the cookies are cooling I make my icing. When making a order of 30 medium + sized cookies, I always make a full batch of icing following the standard Wilton royal icing recipe.  Lately, when planning to ice, using the wet on wet technique or have drastically contrasting colors (i.e. black/white, black/orange), I add a little bit of color flow mix to the meringue and powdered sugar mixture.  It make your icing crust faster, which means less bleeding (more on that later).  I portion out my icing based on what colors I’m using the most of so I’m not making too much or too little of one color.  For these, I used AmeriColor Electric Orange, AmeriColor Black, and AmeriColor Black, Wilton Gel Violet and Royal Blue were mixed to make navy blue.  Using a ramekin to mix the icing colors, I fill my Kuhn Rikon bottles and top with a Wilton No. 1 icing tip. I outline each of the balls with orange, letting the icing crust just enough so will I flood the icing in the center it won’t run out. Once I’ve finished all outlines, I switch to a Wilton  No. 2 tip and flood the icing following the same circular pattern I outlined with. After I ice each cookie, I put it in the dehydrator for 5 mins to dry the top layer of the icing.  This makes the icing super shiny so I highly recommend it!). But be careful to not leave them in too long because I’ve found the process of removing the air, causes the icing to cave in, become convex.  I follow the same practice for the blue jersey number cookies, from start to finish. Both sets dry for several hours on cooling racks then I put them back in the dehydrator for 8 hrs or overnight.  Icing should dry for 24 hrs before attempting to ice on top of the base layer or you risk it caving.

To finish the basketballs, I draw the black lines and let them all dry for a few minutes in the dehydrator. Lastly to add the dots for texture, i thicken my orange icing and switch back to a No. 1 tip. Ice all the dots, then back in the dehydrator.

To finish the jersey numbers, I found a sports number template on Pinterest, printed and cut each number out with an xacto knife and placed on each cookie to trace with a metal tool.  I etched the outline and with a No. 1 tip, iced white icing to fill in the numbers.  One all were done, they spent some time in the dehydrator.  Lastly I thickened the white icing to outline each number (which hides any uneven lines).

For the 3rd and final cookies, I iced each base with white icing, which I add AmeriColor White to brighten the white. After they’ve spent the night in the dehydrator I created and printed my logos on www.toppero.com (edible image software used with kopykate frosting sheets).  I cut each logo with an xacto knife and place in the freezer for about 5 minutes.  This make it super easy to peel the frosting sheet from the backing. Before removing the frosting sheet from the freezer, add a small layer of edible glue to your cookie surface.  (TIP: get yourself a large, wide knife so that when you pull the frosting sheet away from the backing it has a flat, metal landing place). Have your cookie close by so you can transfer the frosting sheet to the cookie, allowing you time to lift and reset its placement, if necessary, before it get warm and floppy. Smooth it out and pop it in the dehydrator.  I use my xacto knife to trim the excess frosting sheet away, giving it a nice smooth edge.  I then pipe over the edges so you can’t see the frosting sheet.  Allowing the piping several hours in the dehydrator so that all edges are shiny like the rest of the icing.