Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Make Flood-filled Sugar Cookies with a No Egg Icing- Halloween Cookies

Ok... now.... I'm about to make an obvious statement!

Sugar cookies are so fun to make and decorate! You can make this beautiful, shiny icing with very few ingredients and then decorate away.  This icing gets hard and stays shiny for days.  The only downfall is that after about a 2 weeks or so, the sugar can start to crystalize and make crystal shapes in the icing.  I haven't figured out the problem with this yet, but in most cases the cookies don't stick around that long.  It did make an awesome design in my snowflake cookies! 

I have a huge collection of decorative candies for on top of my cookies. I find them at Michaels, WalMart and at specialty cake shops. One of my favorites that I used this year is the edible glitter. It consists of huge chunks of shiny sugar that looks adorable on the cookies. You will notice it on a few of the black cats below. Also, the sugar eyes were fun to play with. I found those at a cake shop in San Diego and hope they still have them because I've used all of mine.
I did find them at this shop online though. I need to order some more.

Another awesome product (especially if you can't find sugar eyes), is this one. They are pearls made of sugar. Very fun to use for polka-dots or eyes.  If you click on these pictures below, you can see them close up.  See how shiny they are? These are dry, but still shiny.

See the edible black glitter? So cute!



When decorating with Royal Icing, you find that some people can't have raw egg whites and the meringue powder in other recipes is expensive and hard to find in some areas (like ours). But I have a secret! I found a wonderful icing recipe on Wilton that I have been using that works JUST like Royal for flood filling on cookies. I just use less liquid for piping the outlines and more for the flooding. If you get it too runny for the piping, you add more powdered sugar. If it is too thick, add more corn syrup.
I use a regular icing bag and tip #1 or #2 for my piping around the outside. Then I either use a zip-lock bag with a corner snipped or a diposable piping bag to flood fill. You can cut the end off so that the icing flows the way you like. Start with a tiny hole and work your way up to a bigger one. A hole that is too big is really not good!

I wish I had taken some pictures of my set-up so you can see how I do it, but I forgot. Next time! I will edit this post and put the pics in. For now, however, picture this.

I use a lazy susan and fill it with baked cookies. I use the thicker icing and pipe all around the edges of them with white. I keep doing this in batches until all cookies are outlined. That's the hardest part.

Next, I make my thinner icing and color batches. I put them into the disposable bags and stand each bag in a drinking glass. This contains the mess that you are sure to make because the icing flows easily out of the bag.
Next, pick the cookies that you would like to have flooded with the same color. Slowly squeeze some icing on the cookie and use the tip of the bag to spread it out to the edges. Be careful not to squeeze too much or it will go out over the edges. If you want to include two colors that blend, do so now. Fill one part of the cookie with one color, stop and fill the other half with another color. You can swirl it with a toothpick so that the colors blend together. You can make polka-dots or any other design in another color as well, but be sure you don't put on too much of the original color or it will over-flow the edges of the cookie when you add the second color.

Now you can add all kinds of nonpareils, jimmies, confetti, etc. to make the cookies look adorable. Put them on while your icing is still wet.

Once that original layer gets a little hard (5-10 minutes), you can take your thicker icing and use
it to make some swirls or dots or stripes that will look 3D on top of the icing.

Here is the Wilton recipe for the icing. When I thin it, I use corn syrup rather than milk.  If you use milk, it can cause it to crystalize after it dries.  (This was edited because my icing was crystalizing and a reader of this blog suggested I use corn syrup rather than milk to thin the icing because the milk is what was causing it to crystalize!  Turns out she was totally correct and I haven't had a problem since!  So thank you to my reader!!!) This icing dries smooth and hard, like royal icing, so you can add on other decorations and piped details.

Ingredients:

5 cups confectioners' sugar sifted
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup light corn syrup
Makes: About 3 cups of icing.

Instructions:
Place sugar and milk in bowl. Stir until mixed thoroughly. Add corn syrup and mix well. For filling in areas, use thinned icing (add small amounts of light corn syrup until desired consistency is reached).


For the cookies, I use a basic sugar cookie recipe from Martha.

Ingredients
Makes 2 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons brandy, or milk
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Directions
Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, brandy (or milk), and vanilla; mix until incorporated.


Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.


On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
Have FUN!
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