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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.