Posts Tagged ‘sugar cookie’

Rainbow Spaghetti & Art Class Sugar Cookies Inspired by Jackson Pollock

Art Class - Sugar Cookies and Rainbow SpaghettiJ has been taking an art class at a friend’s house since the end of October. Sadly, we only have one class remaining. She gets to paint and glue plastic jewels (which she LOVES) and I get to see friends. The class is an hour and half and includes a snack/lunch break for the kids.

At the start of classes, we signed up to take turns as “snack mom”. Each week of art has a theme and it turns out that snacks were also themed accordingly. I signed up for Jackson Pollock week and crossed my fingers that I could come up with something creative for a meal — after all, this is (kids) art class!

Painters Palette Sugar Cookie

The painter’s palettes look a little like brown pac-mans.

I knew I would make decorated sugar cookies for dessert. After some internet searching, I decided to make an artist’s palette and splatter design à la Mr. Pollock. Deciding what to serve for lunch proved to be a little more challenging as I wanted one stand-out item on the plate. I found a rainbow pasta recipe which looked easy, portable and kid-friendly.

I made the cookies first since I let them dry over night and needed two nights to work on them. Actually, it was three nights total. The first night I baked and cooled the cookies. The second and the third were spent decorating. Here is the sugar cookie recipe. I made 4″ round cookies for the painter’s palette and 2″ squares for the splatter design. Surprisingly, I don’t have a painter’s palette shaped cookie cutter in my arsenal of 100+ cutters.

I made chocolate royal icing for the palettes since they had to be brown. I added a bit of brown food color to make them a deeper brown. I didn’t want my palette to look like balsa wood.

Jackson Pollock inspired Splatter Design Sugar Cookie

I put one painter’s palette cookie and two of these little “paintings” in each bag that I gave to the kids.

For the white royal icing, I used some that I had frozen from Halloween. Yes, it really does freeze well!! I had it stored in two zip top bags and let it thaw on the kitchen counter. It may have taken 30 minutes to soften, which was really quick.

After piping and flooding the round and square cookies I let them dry overnight. The next night was the fun part! I took the remaining white icing and divided it into five bowls. I made red, yellow, green, blue and purple for the “paint”. It was flood consistency as I wanted it thin enough to splatter across the white cookies.

By now you are probably wondering where all the photos are of the cookie decorating process. Well, I was too tired to stop and take photos. And at night the light is very bad for picture taking.  So sorry!

I used a toothpick to drip the colors onto the painter’s palettes. For the splatter, I lined up all of my cookies next to each other in a giant square. Then I dipped a spoon into the icing and let it drip onto the cookies. It was a lot of fun to do and super quick.

Art Class - Painting in the style of Jackson Pollock

J is using a toy elephant to apply green paint on her canvas.

During J’s art class, the kids each made a splatter paint picture…or at least as close as three and four-year olds can come to replicating Pollock’s style.

Oops, almost forgot to talk about the spaghetti. So here’s the dichotomy of my rainbow spaghetti. I used organic spaghetti noodles and then soaked them in artificial food dye. Am I the only one that finds this humorous?! I do have natural food coloring that I will use if I ever make them again.

Rainbow Spaghetti noodles

I cannot think of anything less appetizing than blue noodles. However, the kids loved it!

Is it a surprise that I made a couple changes from the original recipe? Here is my version:

Rainbow Spaghetti
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Lunch, Dinner
Cuisine: American, Kid
Serves: Varies
Ingredients
  • 1lb Spaghetti or linguine noodles
  • Food color (four or five colors)
  • Water
Directions
  1. Boil noodles according to package directions
  2. While noodles are cooking, mix food color with ½ cup of water in a color-safe bowl. (One that won't soak up the dye -- not a wooden bowl.)
  3. The amount of food color needed will vary depending on the intensity of color desired and if it's gel or liquid food color. I used ⅛ of a teaspoon of gel per bowl.
  4. Drain and rinse with cool water (that step was painful for me...I never rinse my pasta!)
  5. Divide pasta evenly among bowls and make sure the water covers most of the noodles.
  6. Let sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure even color distribution.
  7. Gently rinse noodles to remove excess food color.
  8. If serving immediately, mix noodles together and toss with butter or olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. If saving for later, stir in a few drops of olive oil to each color of noodle to ensure they don't stick together. Keep colors separate until you're ready to serve so the color doesn't run. Store in bowls or baggies in the refrigerator.
  10. Note: One pound of noodles was about a half pound too much for 10 preschoolers.

 

 

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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