This month’s cooking club were looking for ideas and well, I’m an ideas sort of woman. The problem is, I often suggest things that I have no clue how to do.
I say this because I have never decorated cookies other than to sprinkle some sugar or add an m&m. I looked up my trusty friend Martha and then About.com who gave me a recipe for the sugar cookies that they said would be perfect for Halloween cookies. It would be perfect if I lived in the Northern Hemisphere in October.
It’s summer down here and well, the wonderfully crispy and delicious cookies were fine until I flooded them and had to leave them out to dry. Now they’re still tasty cookies but all the crunch went away with the summer rain we had all day yesterday.
I made the royal icing and while it’s not my favorite, it came out really good. I hadn’t thought about how difficult it was going to be to get a really black icing. I used gel but I think I’d try a powder color next time.
Honestly, if someone else had suggested decorating cookies I would have cursed them. What a job! By the time I got the cookies flooded (and the kitchen covered in black icing) it was 11pm. This morning I got up and looked at them and said, “where did all those bubbley things come from??” I arghed. a lot. I wasn’t going to make them again for this post. I love you, but not that much. I’m still digging the black color out of my fancy new fingernails.
On another note, a few weeks ago I registered my interest in the Human Brochure campaign by the Visit Canberra tourism group. The promo was that they were looking for 500 people from around Australia who use social media to come to Canberra as their guest and then blog, Facebook and Twitter their experience. It also asked if you wanted to bring someone along with you so I added John.
Imagine my surprise when I was selected in the food category. They wrote and told me that I’d been chosen to attend on the 26th of October. Now we all know how much people earn from blogs (nothing) and that doesn’t cover flights, accommodation nor food, so I ignored it. I do get a lot of email but I should have replied.
I had a really crap week and imagine my surprise when the tourism office called and said, “aren’t you coming??” I said, “uhh, I really can’t afford it.”
Then she said, “Maureen it’s all expenses paid, flights, accommodation and food for you and John,” won’t you change your mind? So we’ll be in Canberra on the 26th and I’ll be a human brochure and tell you all about it.
Now about these cookies. I’m going to put my recipe in but don’t make these on a damp day or you’ll be disappointed. They’ll come out of the oven all crackly and delicious and then they’ll turn into tiny slices of flat cake. You’ll eat them anyway but you’ll curse me so you’ve been warned.
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- ⅓ cup shortening
- ⅓ cup butter
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-1/4 cups flour
- 2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
- 4 cups pure icing/confectioners’ sugar sifted
- 6 tablespoons warm water
- In a large bowl cream the shortening and the sugar.
- Add the eggs, extract, and milk.
- In a medium bowl mix the dry ingredients with a wire whisk.
- Add the dry ingredients to the large bowl.
- Mix with mixer until well combined.
- With hands, shape dough into a ball.
- Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400F/200
- Lightly grease cookie sheets.
- Roll half or ⅓ dough at a time, keep the rest refrigerated.
- For crisp cookies, roll dough, paper thin. For softer cookies, roll ⅛ " to ¼" thick.
- With floured cookie cutter, cut into shapes.
- Re-roll trimmings and cut.
- Place cookies ½ inch apart on cookie sheets.
- Decorate with colored sugar or leave plain if you want iced cookies
- Bake 8 minutes or until very light brown.
- Remove cookies to racks; cool
- Makes about 6 dozen cookies
- Beat all ingredients until icing forms a peak (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
- Divide into small portions and color.
- Use this icing to pipe a perimeter line around the shape of your cookie then thin the icing and flood the cookie. The perimeter line will keep the flooding from falling onto the floor. Let dry.
Once you get the cookies done (which btw, if you only have one oven rack like I do -thanks for nothing Miele – takes a while) you need to make some royal icing. I took the easy way out and used meringue powder but it’s possible to make this with egg whites. Since I was new on the job I figured I needed all the help I could get.