Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Why Yes, Fran, I Did Bake that Cookie!
And that was what I had planned to post about today anyway. Nice segue!
As you may know from one of my previous posts, my new obsession is the Our Best Bites blog, where I found a tutorial for that pretty glazed icing look. And of course, since I had to have something to glaze, I needed a good roll out cookie recipe. I debated using my favorite butter cookie recipe (best butter cookies ever - thank you Susan Branch!), but went ahead and gave the sugar cookie recipe from Our Best Bites a try.
I have had trouble in the past with roll out cookies...somehow, I always have issues getting the cut dough from the cutting board to the baking sheet while retaining the same shape. It may be an issue with personal patience and chilling the dough long enough. Part of the reason I used the OBB recipe was because the author emphasized that the baked cookies retain the original shape after baking. I chose to take the suggestion about rolling out the dough between two sheets of waxed paper right after the mixing step and then sticking it in the fridge to cool. That way, when you take it out to start cutting into with your cutters, you only need to peel away the waxed paper, and don't need to add extra flour to keep it from sticking to anything.
This may be the most helpful baking tip I've ever used. (I should probably tell you all that I also left the dough in the fridge overnight, since I had planned to bake the cookies the next day anyway.) After taking the flat pane of dough out of the fridge, cutting the cookie shapes out was a snap, and there was no problem getting them onto the cookie sheet intact until the dough warmed up. At that point, I simply re-rolled the remaining dough under a fresh sheet of waxed paper and stuck it back in the fridge. Since the recipe instructs you to divide the dough into 2 even balls of dough before rolling it out, I always had a chunk of chilled dough in play. No down time!
When it came to glazing, the only problems I had were totally on my part. I had attempted to thicken up some of the glaze to pipe outlines and was then going to fill them in with the colored glaze, but I didn't truly think that through, and while the finished product looks okay, it was a huge pain in my not so little tuchas. I had already thickened a portion of the glaze and tinted it black, which I was going to use to further decorate the ghosts, and was going to use it to cover all of the bats and the cats (hardest cookies to keep in one piece...they keep deciding to become bob-tails). After filling in the ghosts with the white glaze, I decided there was no way I was going through that whole process with the bats and cats, so I decided to dip the tops of the cookies, turn them around and let the excess run off. Well...since I'd already thickened the black glaze, way more of it adhered to the cookie at first dipping, only to run off and form little puddles around the cookie edges once they had been set down. (Ideally, I would have enough counter space and cookie drying racks to keep me from having to place the finished products directly on a flat surface...alas, 'twas not to be!)
Did I mention that I had mixed up the black glaze in a standard sized cereal bowl? I didn't? Well, now you know. That would have been fine, if I hadn't later decided on dipping the cookies. Those full sized bats are really too wide to get the full cookie top flat in the bowl. So...those were a mixture of dipping and spooning... (it may sound kinky, but believe me, it was not). That should explain why you don't see any of the full sized glazed bats in my little photo montage.
After all of that, I was determined that the rest of the cookies (all pumpkins and owls, aside from one neglected mini-bat) were simply destined to be orange. That being said, I squeezed out some yellow and red food coloring gel (non-diluting, so they say) into the remainder of the non-thickened glaze. I could not, for the life of me, get a true orange color. I ended up with that 70's throw-back baby shower salmon-y pink color that you see in the photos above. When I added additional red, it only became more garish. When I added more yellow, the garish was gone, but it was back to that funky pinkish color.
Oh well, horrible color aside, dipping the cookies in the funky colored glaze worked out the best. Imagine that! I just had to let all of the excess drip off of the cookies before laying them back down. Now that I've figured out (by pure trial and error) how to glaze the cookies right, I think I may need to try the whole process again. And if I do, I'd better do it before Kristin's party this weekend, because I really cannot afford to have these cookies hanging around my house. It only leads to the same cookies hanging around my hips!
For that reason, I brought some into work today to share. I did get some nice compliments, one of which was an accusation that they were from a bakery. I love it!