Halloween is almost upon us! Can’t wait!
I remember the first time I did decorated cookies, it was a huge mess: took me forever, smelled bad (raw eggs in a heatwave), etc. I was SO exhausted at the end of the day! Afterward, I told myself that I was doing much better with cupcakes and I should glue to that. But you know, things change and after recovering for a few months I tried again. It was much better but still very exhausting! I did learn something: I don’t do the dough and the decorating on the same day, now it’s much better! I’m getting the trick and it’s much faster! Curious about my first and second try? They were cute, but very time-consuming! I learned a lot about decorating cookies from Elisa Strauss’ book: Confetti Cakes. She has a lot of amazing ideas; I really suggest you read it!
So here is my Halloween decorated cookies (third try) with a little explanation on fondant vs royal icing decorating techniques.
About 20 cookies depending on the size of your cookie cutters.
From Elisa Strauss’ recipe on Foodnetwork
2 ⅓ cups and 2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup unsalted butter
½ cup and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar and on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Beat until the dough just comes together, being careful not to over mix.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Form the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place the ball of dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper and roll out to 1/4-inch thick. Keeping the dough in the parchment, transfer to a cookie sheet and place in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Cut out the cookies in the desired shapes and place on a half-sheet pan lined with parchment paper or an un-greased nonstick cookie sheet, at least 1-inch apart. Transfer to the freezer and chill for at least 15 minutes or until they are firm. This will prevent the cookies from expanding and losing their shape.
Bake until the cookies are light golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Let cookies cool completely on the sheets before decorating.
Here are 2 techniques for you. You can either decorate with royal icing (flooding technique) or with fondant. On the photo, fondant is on the left and royal icing on the right.
I think the fondant is the easiest technique because it requires less steps. Even so, I am better at the flooding technique, I will tell you why very soon! For this technique, just add food coloring to the required amount of fondant. Roll the fondant thinly with a rolling pin and cut out a shape with the same cookie cutter you used for your cookies.
* Note: wondering which fondant to buy? I have just one advice: DON’T, and I mean don’t EVER, buy Wilton’s one. Reason: bad taste, bad smell, you won’t eat it. I suggest the Satin Ice, which tastes good. You can also make your own with marshmallow: here is a recipe I tried and liked.
This is where I lack some skills, even if I put some shortening under the fondant (people usually use corn starch but I find it hard to remove afterward, but maybe that is what I should do!), the fondant sticks a little to the counter, spreading the fondant and deforming the shape when I try to remove it. It turned out ok here, but I tried numerous times before succeeding 😉 You can glue the fondant to the cookie with royal icing or corn syrup then decorate as you wish. If you want to know more about this technique you can see this tutorial from Cake Journal! Look how amazing these cookies are!
For the royal icing :
I use the recipe from the meringue powder I buy (CK products). Yes, I don’t use real eggs anymore.
½ cup cold water
¼ cup meringue powder
4 cups sifted powdered sugar.
You can add a flavour to this icing with extracts, but it’s great just like that.
Beat the meringue with the water until peaks form. Then add the powdered sugar and beat until combine. You might need to add powdered sugar to get a thicker consistency to do the outline of the cookie. Add the desire food coloring. For these I had separated my royal icing in 3 bowls one for orange, one for black and another in back up to do other colors.
First you need to do the piping of the outline of the cookie. You need a firm royal icing, you don’t want it to spread. I used a #3 tip, but Elisa Strauss proposes a #2. Just do the piping following your cookie’s shape.
When finish, let it dry. This step should look like this:
Now you need a more liquid royal icing. Just add a little water until you see it spread quite fast, but not too much. Strauss gives this advice: draw a knife through the mixture and if the mark disappear in about 5 seconds you are good to go.
For this part, I take a spoon and put a little royal icing in the center of the cookie.
Don’t drop too much or this will happen, oops!
Then, with a toothpick, drag the icing to the edges. If you see bubbles in the icing, burst them with a toothpick. You see that I have some in the outline. Sweetopia have a great post on how to avoid these bubbles.
You are done! If you want to add polka dots like my black owl, don’t wait for the icing to set, drop-in some icing with a toothpick. For the cakes, I waited for the icing to set before piping the decoration.
Let it set then eat!!! Hope you enjoy!