Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mermaid Sugar Cookies

I've been "tinkering" with sugar cookies for 5 or 6 years now. I get so inspired by the beautiful creations I see online. Mine don't compare to some of the masterpieces but, with each batch, I'm getting better. There are a few websites I follow, I look at their tutorials, read their tried 'n true techniques.  Over time I've found a process that works best for me. Yes, they are time consuming, but  it is fun to watch a plain cookie turn into a culinary piece of art. And they taste great, too!

Our middle granddaughter turned 5 today. How that is possible is beyond me, time is moving much too fast.  She had a "Little Mermaid"-themed swim party at her other Grandma's house. I was requested to bring the sweets. So, basic vanilla cupcakes (she is quite the picky eater!) were for the party and mermaid sugar cookies were to give to her guests.

I had three goals in mind when taking on this task: (1) that people could definitely tell the cookies were mermaids, (2) that they somewhat resemble Ariel and (3) that Kiera be happy with them. My goals were met!

To add texture to the cookies I sprinkled a crystal-like sugar on the fin part of the mermaid.  Her bra was added after the first coat dried to also provide more dimension.  I wish I was talented enough to have piped Ariel-looking eyes and lips but this is the  best I can do!

Here are the recipes I use for my sugar cookies:

Sugar Cookies

4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar *
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla *

(I often use vanilla sugar that I keep in a container on my counter. I then omit the liquid vanilla.)

In a large bowl, sift flour, salt and baking powder; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.  Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Divide dough in half, shape into 2 discs, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Chill at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Have parchment-lined baking sheets ready.  Take dough out of fridge and let stand at room temperature to temper slightly.  Dust work surface with flour.  Roll dough to 1/4" thickness. Cut into desired shapes and place on baking sheets.  Place baking sheets in fridge and chill until dough is firm, about 15 minutes.  Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges just begin to brown, rotating halfway through baking time.  Cool on wire racks.

Royal Icing

2 pound bag (8 cups) powdered sugar
6 tablespoons meringue powder
1 cup warm water
1-2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract or other flavorings, like lemon, mint, orange extract or almond flavoring.

Put sugar and meringue powder in a large mixing bowl.  Add warm water and vanilla and beat on slow to medium speed for 8-12 minutes.  Beat until the icing thickens and can stand in peaks.  Add more water, a little at a time and continue mixing slowly until you get the consistency you want.

Divide and color, fill pastry bags or squeeze bottles and seal until ready to use.  If you leave the icing uncovered, it will dry hard.

My tips:

I usually make the sugar cookie process a multiple-day process.  I'll make the dough one night, cut out and bake the next, frost the night after (I'm a CPA by day so nights are my creative time!)

To decorate I pipe an outline using a pastry bag.  With a squeeze bottle and thinner icing I flood to fill in.

I find the cookie decorating process to be much easier when I have everything prepared and organized before starting to decorate.  I color all my frosting, put into pastry bags and squeeze bottles, have sprinkles or other decorations ready, wet paper towels, toothpicks (good for getting icing into the corners).  Once I have everything in place, then I start an assembly line of cookies!

Royal icing takes a while to completely dry so make sure to give the cookies adequate time to dry before putting in gift bags (and you want to know why I know this?!!)

To get more information and to read (some are on video, which are really helpful!) some great tutorials check out these websites:

Bake at 350
The Decorated Cookie

And here is our birthday girl!

1 comment:

  1. The cookies are fantastic. They are so fresh and looking like a real mermaid. I feel to order cookies online now itself.