Sugar cookies + cake lace = edible glam squad. Now that the holidays are upon us, there's always room for a little more glitz. As luck would have it, I've got a bunch of orders for this week so this past weekend I decided to test out a couple of ideas for holiday sugar cookies and amp up the "wow" factor. I also ended up looking like the Purple People Eater in the process, but more on that later.
Not to toot my own horn, but my sugar cookie recipe is pretty delish (it's at the bottom of this post). The cookies have a crispy exterior, with a soft interior, and a lovely buttery flavor tinged with a bit of sweet.
I tried out cookie stamps, tiny little stamps where you press letters into the raw dough before baking--so stinkin' cute. Here's the set I ordered if that sort of thing interests you.
I also tried out applying cake lace to the cookies (see the picture at the top). I've got Maggie Austin's book (it's a must if you're into fancy cake decorating techniques) and in it she actually uses cake lace on cookies. I've used cake lace before but not in this type of application so I was intrigued.
Some of you may be wondering, what is cake lace?
Cake lace is essentially an edible sugary goo that you spread into a silicone impression mat and bake. When it's done you can peel it out of the mold, and you're left with intricately patterned edible decorations. You can buy cake lace powder and mix it yourself, or buy the pre-mixed kind (this is what I do - trust me when I say Amazon is your friend here.).
After the cookies are baked and cooled, I put some royal icing on top to create a base for the cake lace and also add a little flavor. I used Wilton's royal icing recipe, which is pretty reliable and consistent.
In Maggie Austin's book, she puts fondant on the cookie surface first. It looks beautiful, but I'm not the biggest fan of the taste of fondant so I thought I'd give royal icing a go. I will be trying the fondant in the future though.
During the icing mixing process, I had a minor snafu. I was trying to mix a batch of burgundy icing, and when squeezing the violet gel color into the running mixer, I somehow dropped it. Into the mixer. While it was moving. And it made the food coloring explode out of the the bottle and covered everything around me in 3 foot radius a fine purple mist. It went all over the walls, the ceiling, my clothes, my face, even my contacts. Everywhere.
And my purple pirate mustache.
After an interesting clean up my icing, though now a lovely shade of purple, was ok. Amazingly, the plastic bottle didn't break or crack, the mixer had just extracted its entire contents so now I have a ton of purple royal icing. Luckily it lasts awhile, so my sugar cookies are going to be purple for a good bit.
Anywhoodle. First thing's first; take your stiff consistency royal icing and pipe a border around the edge of the cookie using a number 2 tip. Then, take a portion of the icing and in a separate bowl add water a half teaspoon at a time until you get to flood stage. From there pour a tablespoon or so (for a 3" sugar cookie) onto the cookie, inside the piped border. Let it alone for a few hours to dry and harden.
While the cookies are firming up, prepare your cake lace. Once it's baked and molded, place it on a cutting board. Using the same size cutter as you did for your sugar cookies, cut out a round of the cake lace. The designs are so intricate that I wanted to play around with different shapes so I took a paring knife and trimmed up a few of the rounds to make unique designs.
Once I had all my cake lace pieces cut and the cookies were dry, I painted the back of the cake lace with clear piping gel and applied it to the hardened royal icing. Then I let it set up for a bit to give the piping gel time to dry.
They tasted pretty good! The royal icing was good, not too sweet, and I couldn't really taste the cake lace on the cookie, which is good. I've tried cake lace on its own, and frankly its kind of gummy and tastes terrible. But it looks pretty! The fact that it was undetectable on top of the cookie was most excellent.
Aside from looking like I got beat up thanks to my violet food coloring bath, it was a successful test batch. So much so, that I made up a few more this morning for an order :)
Oh, and here's the sugar cookie recipe I promised:
Mayfair Sugar Cookies
Makes 44 3" cookies or 22 4" cookies
360 grams flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
227 grams butter
200 grams sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine dry ingredients and set aside. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until combined. Sweep in the dry ingredients until fully incorporated and you've got a cohesive dough.
Remove the dough from the mixer, and cut in half. Wrap each half tightly in saran wrap and let the dough rest in the fridge until chilled through, at least 1 hour.
When you're ready, flick some flour onto your work surface and roll out the the dough to approximately 1/4" thick. Using a 3"round cutter (or 4" if you prefer them a bit larger), cut out round of cookies and place them on layers of parchment.
If you're going to bake them right away, pop them in the oven on a parchment lined cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes. When they're very lightly golden on the edges, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack.
If you're not going to bake right away, cover the tops of the cookies with a layer of parchment and then saran wrap like there's no tomorrow before putting them in the freezer.
As soon as they're cool, go ahead and decorate!*
*If you're looking to use cookie stamps to create an embossed effect, do this after the rounds have been cut and before they go in the oven.