Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing - Medical Theme!

Hello fellow bakers!

This is Mehwish, Wardah's sister. I'd like to share a recent successful baking experiment. Last week, I finally had an excuse to bake. I wanted to do something nice for the providers and staff at an ER where I was rotating for PA school. What better way to show appreciation than treats, am I right?

I decided on cut out sugar cookies because I thought it would be fun to do a medicine theme. Plus, I recently learned of the wet-on-wet cookie decorating technique and couldn't wait to try it out. This basically involves using thin consistency royal icing to decorate, so that it sinks into the base icing and allows for a seamless design on a cookie. Royal icing is made from egg whites (or meringue powder) and it is great for decorating. It dries to a smooth, hard finish, so these cookies can be stacked and transported easily. I have in fact never decorated cookies with it before but I have worked with royal icing plenty of times so I was pretty familiar with it. 

Tips for the icing:
  • Use GREASE-FREE utensils to make this icing! Bowls, mixers, spoons, etc. Even a tiny bit of grease can ruin the icing.
  • While working with this icing, keep the bowl of icing covered with a piece of plastic wrap, as it dries out quickly and can form a crust.

Best Rolled Sugar Cookies
(adapted from All Recipes)

1 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
5 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp extract, lemon or almond (optional)
some powdered sugar for rolling out the dough

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Keep a very close eye on these cookies while in the oven as they bake quickly. As soon as there is a hint of golden/brown at the bottom edge of the cookies, take the tray out and move the cookies to a cooling rack. Cool completely. 

Royal icing

2 lbs powdered sugar
8 tbsp meringue powder
3/4 cup warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp light high fructose corn syrup
food colors
piping bags and tips or ziplock bags

For the icing, mix the sugar and meringue powder in a large bowl until combined. Slowly mix in the water, extract, and high fructose corn syrup. If using a stand mixer, initially mix for about 5 minutes at the slowest setting, then increase the speed and mix for another 5-7 minutes. The icing is done when it forms stiff peaks (peaks that hold their shape and stay upright)

Separate the icing into various bowls, depending on how many colors you will be using. Keep a bowl of the uncolored stiff frosting on hand to use in case the colored icing gets too thin. 

The thin out the icing to get "flood" consistency for cookie decorating, just add a tsp of water and mix well. Continue adding a few drops of water and mixing until the icing is thin enough that when drops off a spoon, it blends completely back into the bowl in 15-20 seconds. If the icing gets too thinned, mix in a spoon of the reserved frosting.

Once you have reached the desired icing consistency, add in your food colors. Fill piping bags or ziploc bags with colored icing and you are ready to start decorating!

Once cookies have completely cooled, start decorating by piping a border around the edge. Then fill the border in completely with icing. Use a toothpick to pop any air bubbles or smooth out uneven parts of the icing. Do this quickly because the icing will start to dry.

Alternately, you could do the base icing by dipping the cookies face-down in a shallow bowl of flood consistency icing. I found this method to be less neat, but really easy and quick.

Then before the icing has a chance to dry, pipe your pattern or design on the wet base icing. You will notice it slowly sink in until the surface is even. If you want a scalloped design, pipe lines of a different colored icing on a solid base. Then drag a toothpick through the icing at a 90 degree angle to the lines. Repeat all the way across the cookie.

For the scrub top cookies, I used red icing for the stethoscopes, grey for the metal parts, and white for the ear pieces. I waited for the base icing to dry before piping on the stethoscopes and pockets because I did not want these details to blend into the base icing.

Let the cookies air dry in a cool area for several hours before stacking. Store in an air-tight container. 



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