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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Cookie Baking

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Holiday Cookie Baking

I did not finish final exams and papers until December 20th, so I only had a few days to do Christmas gift shopping and holiday baking. Needless to say, I am still tired and recovering but am thrilled it is my final semester of classes and next semester is all about the thesis and graduating. Phew... Baking cookies I find takes a lot of preparation, patience and space. My kitchen is very small so this was a major challenge. On December 23rd, I spent nine hours baking and decorating cookies. I found it relaxing and had fun!

Decorating Icing, I didn't use the color dyes but had them out just in case I needed them
I used four cookie sheet trays since I could only put two trays in the oven at once and always had the other two ready to go as soon as they cooled and when it was time to switch. I placed parchment paper under all my cookie sheet cooling trays for easier clean up afterwards from my decorating mess. I also wore my awesome Guy Fieri apron since I was using colored icing and did not want to stain my clothes. It is a messy job.

Betty Crocker Decorating Icing
I did not make the dough from scratch and simplified things by using one package of Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie Mix and two packages of Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix. I ended up with about seven dozen cookies. For each Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix (in addition to the ingredient instructions), I added 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of milk and 1 teaspoon of clear Vanilla Extract. When you are mixing the dough use a large mixing bowl, put on gloves (or not) and get in there and use your hands to incorporate everything perfectly. Mix all the ingredients until a stiff dough forms. I recommend chilling the dough for at least half an hour so it is easier to work with. I do not have granite counter tops so I used my large wood cutting board and lightly sprinkled flour on it and the rolling pin so the dough would not stick. I separated my dough into quarters since my working space was small. I had to use flour with each section of dough.

Some of my gingerbread cooling

My funky snowmen!
The icing I used was Wilton Red Cookie Icing, Wilton White Cookie Icing, and Betty Crocker Decorating Cookie Icing in White, Blue, and Green. The Wilton Cookie Icing requires you to place bottles in the microwave for a few seconds until you get the desired consistency. Be careful not to leave the bottles in there for long. If you need the icing to soften up more just keep microwaving for a few seconds until you are happy with it. You just snip the tips and you are ready to use them. Always test them on a paper towel first to make sure it flows the way you would like it to. If it is too runny, wait a few minutes to use it. I have yet to master using these, but I think I did a fine job for the novice cookie baker that I am.

Assorted cookies drying
Gingerbread boys and girls
I used several cookie cutter shapes: gingerbread, circle, star, heart, snowman, icicle, and Christmas tree. The issue I had was the fact that I have no artistic talent whatsoever so this was a serious challenge for me. I was a little nervous at first but after I got going I had so much fun. You see my gingerbread peeps aren't perfect and neither are the designs. I guess you can say my cookies reflect my personality which is all over the map. My cookies baked for seven minutes so baking time is quick. You may need a few minutes more so keep a close eye on them. You have to cool the cookies completely before decorating them. I waited an hour.

Gingerbread men

Tree Ornaments
Before placing your shaped cookies on ungreased cookie sheet trays for your baking marathon, make sure they cool completely. Using the royal icing is alot of fun but not as easy as it looks. I had to use a toothpick when placing decorations on the icing and had some overflow accidents. The toothpicks were helpful and I recommend using them. Using sugars and sprinkles were much easier since you just dust them over the icing. I also burned a little spot on one of my fingers so be careful - those cookie sheet trays are so hot when they come out of the oven! Ouchy...

Stars!
Decorated icicles and stars
When you flood the cookies using the icing squeeze bottles they flood quickly so be sure to start in the center of the cookie and work your way out. Be sure to put your sprinkles and sugars on the icing before it dries or they won't stick on. Toothpicks also work great to help spread the icing and remove any bubbles to get an even surface. The great thing about using the icing squeeze bottles is having enough left over so just put the caps on and store them for the next time you bake cookies. 

Christmas Trees

Hearts
After you have finished decorating the cookies, do not store them in your cookie jar or holiday tins for at least six hours or your cookies will stick to each other and they will be ruined. I put them in cookie sheet trays overnight and covered them lightly with aluminum foil so they could try completely.

Enjoy!

-Sophia/Two Frys

1 comment:

  1. this was extremely helpful to me! This was my first Christmas to play with colored icing and I think you went about it in a much smarter manner!

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