Sunday, July 5, 2009

I See Stars... with Sugar

Happy Fourth!

I made these decorated sugar cookies for my church. Some of my friends and I were in charge of providing food this week so I thought it would be a nice treat to have some yummy, not to mention really cute, cookies.

Here's a bit of "How To" for cheap, but VERY time consuming and VERY rewarding decorated sugar cookies.

Take your favorite sugar cookie recipe and cut out your desired shape and size. In general, I'd suggest using about 1/4" thickness for about a 3" cookie. If you'd like a good recipe, I use The Confetti Cakes Vanilla Sugar Cookie.
11oz AP Flour
1tsp Salt
1 tsp Baking Powder

6oz Unsalted Butter
4oz Sugar

I Large Egg
1tsp Vanilla (or desired) Extract
(add to sugar and butter)

The first thing to do is to make ROYAL ICING.

Royal icing is a type of icing that is mainly for decorating purposes. It's made with egg whites, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and cream of tartar so the flavor isn't necessarily the star (haha!) in it. When it dries it dries hard.


These are one of the few things I can wing without adhering to a specific recipe. All I do is use one egg white, roughly 1/2 pound of SIFTED powdered sugar, a few drops of lemon juice and cream of tartar. Start with a little and just keep adding powdered sugar until it's stiff. Let the mixer mix on med-high for a good 20 seconds before adding more sugar. It should look something like this:

I use a standing mixer with a PADDLE attachment. The key thing with royal icing is AIR. Let the mixer run for a good 2 minutes so that enough air is incorporated and turns bright white. If there isn't enough air the icing will have a dull yellowish tint to it when it dries.

Now... I've seen pretty much everyone else I know make royal icing with a WHIP attachment. You can do whatever you want as long as the end result is the same. I like the paddle attachment because I can get the icing super thick and thin it down a little at a time with water until I get the consistency I want.

The thicker the icing... the faster it will dry.

Back to the cookie...
Take some icing in a smaller bowl (little goes a long way with outlining) and thin down the icing with little bits of water until it's runny enough to pipe but stiff enough where it won't run right off the cookie. When you pick some up with the spoon and let it fall on itself it should take a good 30 seconds or so for it to settle into the rest of the icing.

Hold open a pastry bag (or a thick zip lock bag) by folding over the top over your hand. Fill about HALF WAY (it's easier to refill than to hold a ginormous bag in your hand) like this:

That way all the icing stays in the bag and not all over your hands.

Cut the hole of the bag relatively small. The thinner the line, the cleaner it looks.

Steady the hand holding the bag with your other hand and pipe all the borders before flooding.
It always saves time doing similar jobs all at once before moving onto a different task.

Take more icing and thin it down a little more than what it looked like for the borders. When spooning and letting it fall, it should settle into the rest of the icing within 5 seconds.

Cut the hole a little bigger and fill the bag as before over the bowl of icing. Start flooding the cookies within the borders that were piped.

Don't be afraid to be aggressive with it. The borders will hold the icing in place. Let it dry... pretty much overnight or whenever it's FULLY dried.


My general rule of thumb is to ALWAYS use a combination of colors. Colors found in nature are never purely the color that come in bottles.

For blue I used the Wilton color "Royal Blue" and this is what it looked like:

That's some bright neon looking blue. I didn't like it. Too bright for the blue I was trying to go for. I added some black, brown, and violet and it turned out like...

Much better. When colored royal icing dries the color intensifies. So, keep that in mind.

For the finishing touch, outline the star one more time (after the flooding has COMPLETELY dried) and sprinkle some coarse sugar.

Shake off the excess and viola!