Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas crazies. Or, how to make your own snowflake cookies.

 Yep.  I did them again this year, but it's the laaaaast time. We ended up making 12 batches of gingerbread dough, and I didn't bother counting how many cookies this year for neighbors.  They're all done (although not all delivered). Sigh. 
 I couldn't find any more white nonpareils this year, so we were a little skimpy on those kinds.  On the plus side, I was finally able to figure out how to keep my blue flood icing glossy --but not until the second day.  See how shiny my blue ones look?  They're dry and everything!

I also found these cute gable boxes to pack them in.  We had some fun doing them this year --mainly because Tia helped (and Wendy for an hour or so -Thanks!).  But yeah, this is the last time.  Hopefully Jeff gets a million dollar an hour job before next Christmas's neighbor gifts and I can give everyone their own pony instead.  Haven't you always wanted a pony?
So I decided I ought to share my recipes so you can make your own cookies -since I'm giving out ponies from now on.

First, the equipment.  I bought a set of snowflake cutters here. ;a good rolling pin; a good mixer (-I recommend a Bosch since I burned out my Epicurean Kitchenaid twice before I gave up and switched over), cake decorating tips and bags (you need a #2 size, and maybe a six, or a flat one -like a 101) three cookie sheets; powdered sugar (try to get C&H --when I get the bargain brand I regret it when I taste it), meringue powder, lemon juice,chocolate sprinkles (Guittard are the best. I eat them by the handful when I'm feeling weak -made of real chocolate; White non-pareils (I should have ordered them there -I forgot to and looked in Funfinity --they usually have them, but DIDN'T this year), sanding sugar, and blue food color (this is me --I like the light blue with the chocolate sprinkles).

OK, here goes: the recipes. for the cookies I use a version of Mrs. Field's but add a little more spice.

3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 T. ground cinnamon (I buy the cheap cinnamon though, maybe that's why Mrs. Fields only uses a t.)
3 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves (I really do about 1/2 t. --but try this first, since I really like it spicy)

Mix all of this together in a bowl.  In your Bosch add:

1 cup softened, salted butter
3/4 cup DARK brown sugar (packed)

Cream it together. Add:

1 large egg
1/2 cup unsulfured molasses.

Add your dry ingredients, and mix just until moistened.

There's your dough.  Now do that twelve times if you're me :). Roll out using more flour if needed, to 1/3 an inch, cut out, and bake at 350 for 8 minutes.  check them, and if they still look wet, put them in for another minute or two, but they should be really soft when you pull them out --and NOT browner around the edges. If you're fast enough, you can roll and cut out a pan's worth in 5 minutes, and then rotate three pans around between the racks of your ovens and the counter.

For the drawing icing:
1/4 cup meringue podwer
1/4 cup cold water
1/4 cup lemon juice

beat together in a bowl (with your Bosch --see how handy they are?) until soft peaks form --just like egg white soft peaks, and add:

1 lb. powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time until medium to stiff peaks form. I really like a lemony-icing on gingerbread, but if you don't, you can use all water.

For the flood icing:
Take 1 cup of the icing you just made, and add 2 T. water, 6-8 drops blue food color, and 2 T. corn syrup (hence the glossiness), and mix together well.  You might add half of the water and half of the syrup first and see if you have the right consistency (draw a knife through the icing, and if it comes back together between 7 and 10 seconds.  If it takes longer, and more water/syrup, if it's too fast, add more powdered sugar).

For both of your icings, keep them covered with plastic wrap right up against the icing, and in the fridge.  If it dries out even a little around the edges, those edges can get into your decorating tip and cause you to curse and run around breaking things.

Use your drawing icing in your decorating bag with a #2 tip for making outlines of the things you want to "flood" or fill in.  Do these first, as they need to dry before you can flood.  You can also do the snowflakes you want to just draw on at this time, and then dip them in sanding sugar, nonpareils, or sprinkles right away before the icing dries.  Just fill a saucer with your topping, and turn the cookie upside down in it.  Sprinkling on top DOESN'T work.  Brush off excess.
 Outlined, and then not flooded --design instead.

When your outlines dry, you can fill in with your "flood".  Use the #6 or #101 tip, and fill in the outlines, using the tip to spread it around.  Don't do too much in there, or it will spill over the sides.  Let it dry all of the way --it takes a while-- then you can do another design on top if you want.  I love the look of a chocolate sprinkle design on top of the blue.
 Flooded without design.

 Flooded and design on top with sanding sugar.

For design ideas, I use these books:

Or look at this blog  (but you're really not allowed to compare my skill with this lady's.  She's amazing).

Good Luck! (And bring me a few while you're at it.)


Kelli said...

Take me off your list for next year. i can't handle a pony. Merry Christmas.

Launie said...

HOLY COW!!! It looks like a blizzard. The girls and I spent the day today making our treats. Nothing so fancy tho....
Good job!

Deja said...

Cool! For the first year, I'm glad I'm not your neighbor, since it would be tough resisting those puppies! I like that you get your inspiration from nature. Very cool of you. And I shouldn't have clicked the link for the other inspiration. I was literally smacking my lips without realizing it, and then I thought, "Wow, I am literally smacking my lips." How do people eat like that and not die, is what I don't understand.

april said...

Wow you get fancy with your cookies!! They look great!

Jacobson Five said...

As a neighbor, we really have enjoyed getting the cookies. They truely are beautiful.
But I am also a human being and understand all the work that goes into them, so next year we will just look forward to the pony.

belann said...

You can't help yourself. If it's not the "out of this world" gingerbread cookies, it will be the "out of this world" something else. You just have a creative spirit. Giving ponies just won't do.

Amara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.