Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Lather, rinse, repeat...

One of the compliments I get a lot from my husband is how amazed he is that I can make so many cookies look almost exactly alike.  Simple - just do the same things to each cookie, in the same order, over and over and over...  Simpler even still on less detailed cookies, but that goes without saying!  So, since we are working our way up to the harder stuff, let's look at something simpler.  Like these Love Birds, for example... I had 100 of them to do - and aside from half of them facing one way, and half facing the other way, they look almost exactly the same.  Here's a quick tutorial:
  • First, I put on a little beak with some yellow. 
  • Then, I outlined the rest of the bird, and filled it in immediately with white. 
  • Next, on the wet icing I dropped on a Royal Icing Transfer (RIT) heart for the wing and a sugar pearl eye.
  • To make decorating go a little quicker, I made the RIT's the day before.  In case you don't know what a RIT is... just make an icing shape (in this case, 100 or so of them!) on some parchment & let it dry, then peel it up & you have icing decorations! I love RIT's and will do a tutorial on those somewhere in the next decade near future : )


Don't forget to pop any air bubbles - this
is easily accomplished with a toothpick.

I like using my Royal Glaze icing because I can outline
and flood almost to the edge of the cookie without it sliding
off (like glaze), yet I may, on occasion, over-ice the edge. 
This is an easy fix, also done with a toothpick - just slide the
toothpick along the edge of the cookie to remove the icing.
You can also use a boo-boo stick... 


Voila! One down, 99 to go...

Lather, rinse, repeat...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Starting Simple

Aaahhh... vacation... A "break" if you will...  "Time-out" from every-day life...  A few weeks ago we had a great time visiting family out east - NJ to be exact... No, we don't know Snooki, but we did get to be extras at the Shore Store during filming of "Jersey Shore" while hangin' out at Seaside Heights boardwalk - (Mike "The Situation" made my "Jersey Girls Don't Pump Gas" t-shirt and my daughter paid Dina for it - all on film!) - I'll let you know if we show up in any episodes! And in a few days from now, we will be exploring beautiful San Francisco.

For these few weeks in-between trips, one would think I had time for lots of cookies, right?  Sometime in-between the 20+ doctor/dentist/ortho/vet appointments, tennis/music lessons, and  my daughter's hip & hand surgeries... ummm, nope...  Ususally during this "vacation" time of year, I have to close the "cookie-kitchen" since cookie art is so time-consuming, and I usually only get to bake other stuff.  Instant gratification stuff.   Which isn't so bad...  I made a rhubarb pie the day we came back, with fresh Jersey rhubarb we bought at a little roadside farmstand in the teeny town of Gillette (I was excited since rhubarb in Chicago is like a one-day occurrence - and only if you're lucky enough to be in the store on that day, when they are putting it out, will you get any rhubarb! And before you say it, I've never had any luck growing my own - no green thumbs here, unless it's from icing!)  I also had some time to test out some new Pinterest recipes. Like OMG Chicken, 7-Up Biscuits, PB and Banana Bars, Cinnamon Bun Cake, Banana Cake, and 6 Minute Microwave Caramel, just to name a few.  All very good recipes, and all pass my "I wanna bake something but don't have a ton of time" test - give them a try!  (word of caution - when making microwave caramel - use a LARGE bowl and watch it closely...and you may want to use your candy thermometer... just sayin'...)  Anyhoo, since this is more of a cookie-blog than a "Review-Your-Pins blog" I figured I should squeeze in a quickie cookie post.

I only had 6oz of dough in the freezer and not a whole lotta icing, but the icing colors just happened to be red, white and blue, and it was the Fourth of July... so little stars it is!  And since the next step in my tutorials is icing the cookies, I figured we should start simple - flood the stars and sugar them to cover any imperfections in icing just in case this might be your first time.   What could be easier than little monochromatic sugared stars?  If you're already a "cookie-queen" (or on your way there), sorry for what must be remedial for you, and you can stop here if you like.  But maybe we can make some new cookier friends... : )

OK, you've got your dough made, cookies baked, icing mixed & colored and in bags/bottles... Time to ice that cookie! 

I like to use a #2 tip on these small cookies - for outlining and flooding (filling in the middle).  I outline first, fill in the tips of the star with a zig-zaggy motion next, then fill in the middle. 

At this point the icing may look lumpy... but wait a few seconds & it will smooth out all on its own.  Next, hold it over a paper plate and shake some sanding sugar on top, turn it upside down & back up to get off any excess sugar, and then I like to lay them on a parchment-covered baking sheet to dry, in this case overnight. (can you can tell I took these pictures at night...?)  You can pour the excess sugar back into the jars. 

The next morning, or whenever they are dry, take a brush (one that the bristles won't fall out of so it doesn't look like there are hairs in your cookies (I like silicone pastry brushes for this) and brush off the excess sugar onto a paper plate.  You can do this by individual color and pour the excess back into your jars, or make a new color combo & pour it all into an empty jar to use on another project. 


All that's left is to either package them, plate them, or eat them!  (after taking some pictures first, of course...  I forget that sometimes, which is bad, 'cause once they're eaten there is no real proof that you did any of this... : )  My favorite is the waving flag : )

Hope you all had a happy & safe Fourth of July! Next time we'll do something a little more interesting... and then there will be a giveaway (yay!) before tackling some more detailed cookies and techniques.  And forgive me if there are any more mundane posts in-between - it's very time-consuming to be on "vacation" you know... 

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Milestone

Wow!  I sat down this morning to start working on a new post, and noticed that I had hit 2,000 page views!  I don't even think I know 200 people!  When I started this blog I never imagined that anyone but my family would even so much as take a peek at my newest adventure, and that they would only look maybe once before deciding to continue to leave the cookie baking to me!  And I know that 2,000 over 2 months is small potatoes compared to other blogs that have been at it a while, generating that many page views in just one day (or more!) but for me, this is huge!  I wasn't prepared for this today, nor do I have any pictures to post (technically I'm on "vacation") but I wanted to thank everyone that has checked out my blog and hopefully taken away a little something from it.  And since we're only halfway through the cookie-process from my first post, hopefully you will keep coming back to visit...  I think when "vacation" is over I may do a little giveaway... maybe some cookie decorating supplies so that I can have some company...  : )