Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Daring Bakers September Challenge

This was easily the most vegan-friendly of the DB challenges in which I've participated. Don't get me wrong--it's not that I mind a challenge. Quite the opposite is true. What intrepid vegan baker doesn't thrill at the successful veganization of an omni dessert? Still, I enjoyed being able to focus on the decorations for this challenge and not fret about the basic elements. The challenge? Sugar cookies decorated with royal icing. The theme for the month was September. Basically, I needed to make a basic cut-out sugar cookie, shaped and decorated in the theme of whatever September means to me. Admittedly, I was somewhat stymied initially by my serious lack of cookie cutters and not feeling like making my own. Okay, so I'm not all that intrepid. As I examined my options, however, and considered what I might say September means to me, I hit upon exactly the thing.

My sister has given me more than half of my small cookie cutter collection. I have five, she's given me three. I have a pumpkin, a sort of conjoined heart, and some lips--in addition to the circle and diamond shapes that I got all on my own. Whenever I see these lips, I think of her. She loves Valentine's Day and all its attendant paraphernalia. Hearts, flowers, candy, and the like. She likes friendly things, in general.This September makes me think of her even more because she recently traveled from her home in Virginia to visit us where we live in California. Thus, my contribution to the theme of September comes in the form of lip-shaped sugar cookies. Because I have always been more of a Halloween kind of person--skulls, black, metal, I decided to decorate these friendly lip cookies in a dark, gothy way. I was thinking that the cookies could sort of thematically represent our sisterness, having components of both of our interests.

I enjoyed making these cookies and was surprised at the ease with which the cookies, frosting, and decorations came together. I only had to make one trip a little out of the way to pick up the kind of solid food coloring that doesn't dilute icing. I was also concerned that the royal icing wouldn't harden enough to get fancy with the piping. If the icing is too thin or too wimpy, it would bleed into the other colors or just kind smoosh all over the place. Apparently, the trick to getting royal icing just the right texture is to draw a knife across the surface and count to 10. The icing has the right thickness if the surface smooths itself out between 5 and 10. It took a little bit of futzing, but I was able to achieve the right consistency fairly quickly. My only regret is that I didn't have more than one pastry bag when undertaking to use multiple colors of icing in quick succession. I managed by both washing and refilling the bag as quickly as possible and sacrificing one ziplock to the cause.

The cookies and the icing were both firm to handle but soft to eat. I was really impressed with the combination. I think these cookies would ship really well, even decorated (provided the weather cooperates with temperatures cool enough not to melt the sugar). They look really fancy, even when decorated by an unrepentant amateur such as I am. I found the cookie recipe HERE. I halved it because I didn't want to be inundated with cookies. The royal icing recipe is HERE. I ended up making two and a half recipes, and that was the perfect amount of icing for the cookies.

1 comment:

JennShaggy said...

Thanks, Marla...in more ways than one! Those cookies are freaking adorable, by the way :)