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Ice Ice Baby

April 3, 2009

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Being a novice cook/baker, I’ve always been quite daunted by the notion of using icing in any form. I previously tried icing some cupcakes, and well… let’s just say the icing tasted much better than it looked =) So while convalescing at home a few days ago, I decided to have a go at icing some simple sugar cookies.

The cookies were simple enough to make. Stirring in the flour was hard work though (I did it by hand). Here is a picture of the finished dough, which I had to put in the refrigerator for an hour:

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After almost an hour, I took the dough out of the refrigerator and got to work. I grabbed a portion of it, plopped it onto my Silpat mat and tried rolling it out. Boy was it ever STICKY. I had to coat it with a whole lot of extra flour before I could get it to behave (I always seem to have this problem when I have a dough that I need to shape – it’s frustrating). Anyway, after rolling it out, I used my pretty cookie cutter to cut out a star-shaped cookie. Here is the equipment I used:

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And baking paper to line the baking tray – an absolute must especially if you have to put the tray in the oven multiple times:

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Cutting the dough was one thing, but transporting the cut-out to the baking paper was another. By the time the star made it to the tray it looked more like a deformed starfish. After many rounds of trying to do this, I finally got more of a hang of it, but the result was still not nearly as eye-pleasing as I had hoped it would be. Here is a shot of the second or third tray of cookie dough, sort of uneven and bumpy:

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And here’s what the cookies looked like out of the oven – bloated and irregular:

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After scratching my head a bit, I came up with a way to cheat. Instead of rolling out the dough, cutting out the cookie and transporting it to the baking paper, I decided to put a small clump of dough directly on the baking paper, roll it out, cut out the cookie and peel away the remnants, so there was no need to move the cut-out cookie around. This worked much better! Here is a picture of the results – much more even little stars (I also used a smaller cookie cutter.  I have a whole set of stars =):

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And out of the oven:

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Finally I got round to doing the icing, which was also much harder work than I had anticipated. Apparently I should have used some kind of brush, but I didn’t have one so I used a silicon spatula and bread knife instead. I made one batch of white icing, and one batch of fuschia icing. My icing attempts weren’t A-grade, but they sure were a lot of fun! Here are some pictures:

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More fun with icing…

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And more:

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So they looked passable I suppose, for a first attempt. As for the taste, the cookies were quite mild – good for a light snack (they tasted a little like the tiny round chinese egg biscuits that children like to eat). The icing added a lot more flavour, which is good or bad depending on whether you like things real sweet.

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The recipes I used were from allrecipes.com and can be found here:
Sugar Cookie Recipe
Icing Recipe

For those who are interested, here are the recipes with some conversions done by me, and a few small changes made (e.g. more sugar and vanilla so the cookies have a bit more taste):

Sugar Cookies

INGREDIENTS (yields about 50 medium cookies – that’s a lot!):

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened (about 335g)
  • 3 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth.
2. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
3. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
4. Cover, and chill dough for at least 1.5 hour (or overnight).
5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
6. Remove dough from refrigerator and roll out one portion onto baking paper to 1/4 – 1/2 inch thick.
7. Cut out shapes with any cookie cutter.
8. Peel away remnant dough.
9. Place sheet of cookies onto tray.
10. Bake 7 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.
11. Repeat with more portions of dough until the dough is used up.

Sugar Cookie Icing

INGREDIENTS (makes enough icing for at most 1/2 the cookies you get from the above recipe):

  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 teaspoons milk
  • 3 teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (or any other flavouring of your choosing)
  • Assorted food coloring

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until well-mixed.
2. Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more corn syrup.
3. Divide into separate bowls, and add food colorings to each to desired intensity.
4. Dip cookies, or paint them with a brush.

On the whole an enjoyable experience, but I’d like to know what in the world went wrong with my cookie dough during preparation! To all my more seasoned baker friends, can you tell me what I should have done/not done please? I had the air-conditioner on and everything so I don’t think I can blame it on Singapore’s humidity… Also, I found that the icing started to dry up/harden fairly quickly (or maybe I was taking too long to do the icing =) Is there anything I can do to stop this from happening?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. unknowntheartist permalink
    April 3, 2009 9:20 pm

    Being not the best baker myself, I can’t tell you what happened with your cookie dough or icing ‘cos I haven’t had that problem yet.
    But keep at it though, you will only learn through trial and error. And it will be fun as you get used to everything 🙂
    (My thought on the dough is that if it got too runny even after you took it from the fridge, you may have to use a little more flour to stiffen it a bit before it goes in the fridge to make the mixture malleable but not flimsy.)
    Check out my early, early posts on my baking experiences at my site. It’s a lesson in concentration and patience 🙂

  2. Constance permalink
    April 3, 2009 11:39 pm

    I thought you added ground almond to the cookies…….so it was from the icing…the icing is not very sweet. goes well with the cookies. could it be too much butter?

    to make things easy, portion the dough and put it in a plastic bag. (those transparent type) or cling wrap. Then roll the dough to the thickness you desire with the dough in the bag/cling wrap. put in the fridge. when harden, just take out cut the shape when the dough is still cold and in the oven.

    i think this will solve the problem. 🙂

  3. mrsmultitasker permalink*
    April 4, 2009 8:39 pm

    Hi unknowntheartist, thanks! I did use a whole lot of extra flour in the end.. haha
    Constance: Will try that next time =) It’s just a bit difficult when you really have a lot of dough… There isn’t that much space in my refrigerator!

  4. May 15, 2009 3:31 pm

    I stumbled on your site while looking for ETA Sweets 🙂

    Just some thoughts, though I am not an expert. I think the other posters have mentioned using more flour and that definitely helps with the stickiness. However one other thing that may have been the cause is that I read you put the dough in the fridge for less than an hour.

    Having baked in both the US and Singapore, the butter melts here a LOT faster (I haven’t baked in AC here though! :)). For example, making pie crust there (even without AC) is easier because the butter doesn’t start to melt.

    Most recipes recommend that you put the dough in the fridge for at least an hour. Bearing in mind that while you were working in the dough, the butter may have melted quite a lot, it may need a longer time in the fridge before you start working with the dough.

    I also find that working with the dough in portions helps – ie putting the leftover dough in the fridge to harden while you roll out the portion you’re working with. You may have already done that but I thought I’d mention that just in case 🙂

  5. mrsmultitasker permalink*
    May 15, 2009 11:10 pm

    Hi Dawn! Thanks a lot =) I’m sure this will be helpful for me when I next get round to rolling out more dough…

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