Archive of ‘Cookies’ category

Sheriff Callie Sugar Cookies and Birthday Madness

Disney Junior's Sheriff Callie decorated sugar cookie - Sparky Horse

Disney Junior’s Sheriff Callie inspired these cookies – Callie’s trusty horse Sparky.


J celebrated her 4th birthday last week and along with it came the annual birthday bash. The past few years we had her party at our house which was fun as well as a ton of work. My child’s small birthday parties typically include 50 to 60 guests (adults and children).

So, in an effort to regain some my sanity, we outsourced her party to a local play gym. It was tons of fun for the kids and a lot less work for Curt and I. Of course, I still went overboard and made a photo collage, Sheriff Callie themed banner, centerpieces, and favors  which included a decorated sugar cookie that looked somewhat like Callie’s horse Sparky.

 
Sheriff-Callie-Party-Favor

I put the Sparky Cookie in a plastic cup shaped like a cowboy boot. I pinned a sheriff badge with each child’s name to the boot.

If you’ve read any of my other recipe posts, I always include a reminder to use organic ingredients wherever possible. I do this with my cookies, except for the meringue powder and food color. This is the dichotomy of my cookies – organic cookie with tons of artificial food dye. Well, I don’t eat these everyday (and you shouldn’t either) so I have a clear conscious using Red Dye #40 (although there is no red in these cookies). You get my point.

Here are steps I took to make this cookie.

1. I made a batch of Sweetapolita’s Sugar Cookies. I have to make the batch in two parts because the entire recipe makes my stand mixer jump and sound like a steam engine. Then I cut the halves in half to make it easier to roll the dough. One full recipe gives me 4 discs of dough. I used three of these discs and froze one for later. Here is her recipe and steps for making the cookie pops. This time I actually made pops because I thought it was cute to have a “stick horse” for a cowgirl party. I alter her method slightly, so please check out my DIY Sugar Cookies post for my changes.

Cookie-Sheriff-Callie-Baked

My stick horses – get it?! Until they were decorated they looked like dogs to me…I’m glad they ended up looked like horses.

2. While the cookies baked and cooled, I mixed up a batch of Bake at 350’s royal icing. I had lots of extra icing with her recipe, but I mixed most of it blue so I couldn’t save it. For these cookies, you will need a little white, a little brown, a lot of blue and a little black plus blue sanding sugar. I cheat and use premade black icing because it’s a lot easier. You need an obscene amount of black food color to make truly black icing. I baked the cookies and mixed the icing one evening after J went to bed and decorated the next two evenings.

3. Time to decorate! After you mix the blue, put some in a piping bag for the horse outline and thin the rest for flooding. I like to outline a few cookies at a time and then flood. I made roughly 24 cookies and left them overnight to dry.

Cookie-Sheriff-Callie-Partial-Outline

I outlined each cookie in two sections. It was easiest to decorate with the cookie upside down because of the stick.

 

Cookie-Sheriff-Callie-Outlined

All outlined and ready for flooding. You can see I biffed the outline on one of the tails (lower right). Just wipe off the icing and start over. The flood covers up the mistake!

 

Cookie-Sheriff-Callie-Flood-Fill

New to flooding? Fill the center of the cookie and then use a toothpick to spread the icing until it touches the outline.

 

Cookie-Sheriff-Callie-Flooded

I wish royal icing dried shiny. I’ve experimented with other icing, but overall I like royal icing best.

4. Once the cookies are dry it’s time for the details. I piped Sparky’s bridle with a #2 round tip but skipped his saddle. I also skipped making his hooves. It would have been easy to do, but required a darker blue color. I was lazy and didn’t want to pipe and flood such a tiny amount of color. After the bridle I made the white part of his eye with a #6 round tip. Use a slightly wet finger to push down on the white icing to flatten it out.

Cookie-Sheriff-Callie-Bridle-White-Eye

Zombie horses! I use lollipop sticks instead of cookie sticks. They are slightly smaller in diameter and easier to use.

5. After the bridle and eye detail, I added blue sanding sugar to the mane and tail. The bridle and eye on the first cookie you decorated should be dry enough that the sugar won’t stick to those areas. I used a mixture of equal parts meringue powder and water to mix the “glue” for the sanding sugar. Use a small paint brush and wet the mane and tail area. I use Bake at 350’s anal retentive technique for sanding — sprinkle sanding sugar onto the cookie while holding it over a coffee filter (clean, of course). Use the filter as a funnel to pour unused sugar back into your sprinkling container. Use a toothpick to remove any stray pieces of sugar.

Cookie-Sheriff-Callie-Sanding-Sugar

Down the homestretch, just need to add pupils. (Bad horse racing pun totally intended.)

6. After the mane and tail have been sparkled, add the black pupil to the eye. I used my #2 tip again to make a tiny dot on the white icing. I flattened it with a slightly wet finger.

Cookie-Sheriff-Callie-Finished

Time to bag and tag!

7. Let dry a few hours or overnight again before bagging. Since the cookies have a nice layer of icing on top of them, they won’t dry out, even with being uncovered for two consecutive evenings.


 

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing & Spider Cookie Details

Once you’ve made your sugar cookies, it’s time to decorate! As I mentioned in my sugar cookie recipe post, you can make the cookies ahead of time and store them in an air-tight container for a week or so or freeze them. I’ve also frozen the dough and thawed overnight in the refrigerator.

If you’re not familiar with royal icing, it’s pretty neat! It dries hard so you can stack decorated cookies or package individually and not worry about the decoration getting smooshed. In terms of flavor, of course, a butter-based frosting would be tastier, but then I don’t think it would be considered icing…that’s why it’s called frosting. Anyway, I think the cookie and icing together tastes pretty good. Alone, the flavor of the icing just tastes like sugar.

Halloween_Spider_Cookie_2013

Last year, Bridget from Bake at 350 said my spider cookie was “adorable”. SQUEEE!!!!!

I learned everything I ever wanted to know about royal icing from Bake at 350. Bridget’s tutorial is here. I love her cookie designs and last year I even sent her a picture of the spider cookies I made (inspired by her design). She wrote me back and said my cookies were adorable. I’m officially **star struck**. :D

The recipe for royal icing is pretty simple. Again, I use organic ingredients whenever possible so in this case the powdered sugar and corn syrup that I use are organic. I won’t go into the instructions for making the icing because Bridget does such a great job. Here’s her royal icing tutorial link again.

The icing also freezes well, so if you have leftovers, don’t pitch it. It keeps for a couple months and is great to have on hand when your preschooler demands “fancy cookies.”

Halloween Spider Cookies 2014This year’s spider cookies were decorated in two evenings. The first night I covered each cookie with white royal icing and then orange flat dots. I let them dry overnight.

The second night is when I added the web and spider. I used a number 2 round tip on a tube of store-bought black icing for the web and legs. Yes, I could make my own black icing but it takes a disgusting amount of food coloring and in this case ignorance is bliss. I don’t want to think about what goes into making it black so I just unscrew the cap and I’m none the wiser.

While a number 1 round tip would make a more delicate web, I must admit that my hand cramps up way too much when using this tip. I made spider man cookies earlier this year with the small tip and thank god I only made a dozen or so. My hand felt like it had been squashed under a steam roller when I was done decorating.

To make the spider’s body I use a number 6 round tip and squeeze a blob of icing onto the cookie. Dip your finger in water (it should be damp, not drippy) and gently pat the black blob until it looks like a circle. You can do the same with the spider’s legs if the end of the icing pokes up.

Finally, I take two white sprinkles and with (clean) tweezers, I carefully place them into the spider’s body. Creepy and cute at the same time!










DIY Sugar Cookies – Better Than Store-Bought!

Cookie_CollageI’ve been making sugar cookies for a few years now, but only for special occasions. This means I don’t make them all the time and I get a little rusty, but it’s kind of like riding a bike…once you do it you don’t forget how…or at least you remember most of what needs to be done.

I don’t take credit for any of my designs. I’m good at copying so when the need for fancy cookies arises, I search the internet for inspiration and then I copy as best I can. This means that you, yes – YOU – can make these cookies too! I’m a self-taught baker and cook so I really believe anyone can do this with a little practice and determination.

First off, the sugar cookie recipe. This is the only recipe I use, and I swear by it (and so does everyone that eats my cookies)! It’s from Sweetapolita and includes instructions for making cookie pops. I started out by making pops, but then got lazy and realized people were as equally impressed by a decorated cookie as there were by a decorated cookie on a stick. Click here for the original recipe or keep scrolling to see my version at the bottom of this page. It includes my shortcuts and changes as well as some other tips. Most importantly, I cut the recipe in half because my stand mixer almost jumped off my counter the first time I made the recipe. The dough climbed up my mixer attachment and it was a mess!

The recipe and tips for decorating with royal icing are in my next post.

I don’t deviate from the ingredients in the recipe! And, I always freeze for 10 minutes before baking. If you don’t, well…ever see this picture on the interwebz? That really will be your cookies if you don’t freeze your cut dough shapes before baking!

Sugar Cookie Fail

The other change that I make is rolling the dough to 5/8″ thick instead of 1/4″. You will need (clean) dowels for this. I love the taste of the cookie and I guess I like a slightly larger cookie to icing ratio. Of course, by rolling thicker cookies you won’t yield quite as many per batch as Sweetapolita does. The other thing I do is use a postal scale to precisely measure the weights (in grams) of all of my ingredients. This seems pretty anal, but perfection does require a little extra effort. ;) If you don’t have a postal scale (really, who does?) then a reliable kitchen scale will work. You can get one here.

If you get hooked into cookie making, I suggest buying a bunch of cookie cutters. You will invariably need to buy more, but something like Wilton’s 101-Piece Cookie Cutter Set will get you off to a great start.

As I say with all of my recipes, I prefer to use organic ingredients whenever possible. Of course, substitute for conventional ingredients so you can get your daily dose of GMOs (wink wink).

Sugar Cookies - Better Than Store-Bought!
 
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: snack, dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 18 - 20 cookies
Ingredients
  • 3 cups (375 g) all-purpose organic flour, sifted
  • ½ teaspoon (4 g) salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted organic butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) organic sugar
  • 1 large organic egg, cold
  • 1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract - organic
  • ⅛ teaspoon pure lemon extract - organic
Directions
  1. In large bowl, sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
  2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in egg.
  3. Add vanilla and lemon extract and mix until incorporated.
  4. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. *Do not overmix! Once the dough comes away from the side of the bowl, turn off the mixer.
  5. Remove ½ of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter. Make a disc about 2" thick and cover with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. Chill both discs of dough for about 45 minutes in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove discs and let sit on the counter for 10 minutes. This softens the dough enough to make it easy to roll, but still keeping it cold. If you are super strong (not me), go ahead and roll it right out of the refrigerator. I cannot seem to do this successfully!
  7. Place disc on top of a large piece of parchment paper. I put the parchment on a large cutting board on top of our kitchen table. We have tall counters and I get better rolling leverage when placed on the table which is shorter than our counters. Place two ⅝" wooden dowels on either side of your dough, then another sheet of parchment paper.
  8. Roll dough so it's even with the dowels. You should not see any speed bumps in the dough. If you do, keep rolling until it's entirely smooth and an even thickness.
  9. Cut your shapes and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet that will fit in your freezer. Re-roll excess dough. Waste not want not! Place the cut shapes in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  10. Preheat your oven to 350° F. I find that by the time my oven is hot, my cookies are semi-frozen.
  11. Remove cookies from freezer and place on another parchment (or silpat) lined cookie sheet. Place cookies at least 1" (one inch) away from each other and away from the edge of the cookie sheet.
  12. Bake 14 - 16 minutes, or until edges are golden brown. Sometimes the edges of my cookies do not brown, but the bottoms do. It may take a little trial and error to find the right baking time.
  13. Cool sheets on wire racks for 10 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling.
  14. Cookies can be made ahead of time (without decorating) as long as they are stored at room temperature in an airtight container. They will last 2 weeks. You can also freeze them.

 

Looking for the royal icing recipe? Click the link.

Halloween Tricks & Treats – Party Food

Boo Sign

Boo SignSo the past few years I’ve hosted a Halloween party for kids and adults. Last year I sort of went all out and made a crazy amount of Pinterest inspired food. This year I added a few new items and made many of the popular items from the previous year. I’ve learned a few tricks along the way so I thought I would share them.

Here is the menu: (Each link takes you to another site with the recipe or my own post with the recipe and my tips.)

  • Chips & Salsa (no need for a recipe here…open a bag of chips and a jar of your favorite salsa)
  • Guacamole Pumpkin – make your favorite guacamole or buy it. Carve out a small pumpkin.
    Guacamole Pumpkin
  • Cheese broomsticks *TRICK – use a semi-soft cheese like harvarti or mozzerella. I tried it with cheddar and it wouldn’t roll around the pretzel. It was too hard and broke into pieces.Halloween Cheese Broomsticks
  • Deviled Eggs w/black olive spiders – make deviled eggs with your favorite recipe then cut whole olives in half for the body and smaller slivers for the legs. These can be made a day ahead (the eggs can even be boiled a few days ahead). *TRICK – use medium or large olives. I’ve used large the last two times I’ve made them and next year I will try medium because the “bodies” are almost as big as the yolk.Deviled Spider Eggs
  • Tangerines with celery stems – Peel tangerines and stick a small “stem” of celery on top.Tangerine Pumpkins Banana Ghosts
  • Banana Ghosts – Peel banana, cut in half, add two mini-chocolate chips for eyes
  • Hot Dog Mummies – Use your favorite hot dog (I use veggie dogs). Cut dog in half, wrap a strip of crescent roll dough around it. These can be made ahead and placed on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° until the dough is brown, about 15 minutes.Hot Dog Mummies
  • Pasta Salad – So many recipes…mine includes marinated artichoke hearts, red pepper, red onion, bocconcini (small fresh mozzerella balls), olive and Halloween pasta shapes bought from World Market. For dressing I use olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt pepper and some mayo. This can be made a day or two ahead. The longer it sits, the better it tastes!
  • Rice Krispy Treats – Cut the treats into small squares, then drizzle orange and white Candy Melts over the top and add orange, black and white sprinkles. Michael’s usually has them on sale around Halloween and if you use a coupon you can save even more.
  • Pumpkin Pie Bites – Based on Bakerella’s recipe with a few tweaks and tricks.
  • Cheddar Bunnies – I like Annie’s Organic Cheddar Snack Bunnies.
  • Pretzels – use your leftovers from the broomsticks
  • Mac N Cheese – I made two boxes for the kids to eat. I should have made three.
  • Halloween Candy

In addition to all that food, I also go crazy and make decorated sugar cookies. These are definitely make-aheads and will stay fresh for over a week as long as they are stored in an air-tight container or packaged individually.

Halloween Spider Cookies 2014

This Year’s Party Favor for Adults – 2014

Halloween Spider Cookies 2013

Last Year’s Party Favor for Adults – 2013

Up next: Halloween Tricks & Treats – Costumes

 

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