Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quick Tip Tuesday -- 3 ways to tell if your icing is too thin

I'm not quite sure what I've done to Autumn. But the fact of the matter is... that Autumn doesn't like me. Either that or Autumn REALLY likes me and is also a 10 year old boy. That explanation makes more sense because I've been super nice to Autumn. I welcome it with open arms. I decorate my house so it feels all comfortable. We get ready for the visit weeks before it actually comes. And a few weeks ago it got cold out of nowhere. And it rained. And we wore jackets and opened the windows and thought that life was beautiful and fresh and livable again. My kids were skipping to school. Actually, that might have been me again. I just love Autumn. And then...

Autumn went away. And left a joy sucking hole behind in the shape of Autumn. I refused to admit that it was gone. I left my windows open in the face of the returned heat. You couldn't have ripped my jacket from my overheated body. And I felt completely justified when Autumn came back a week later. I thought maybe Autumn had just needed some time alone to work things out. Maybe he had forgotten to finish his homework and just had to go back home real quick. Or maybe he was stuck in traffic. (I'm still not sure how old Autumn really is.) But none of that mattered because Autumn was back. And we were perfect together. Until... Autumn left again. This time though, I'm not waiting around looking out my window for him to come back and play. I'm just going to sulk. And then I'm going to make some cookies. With icing. But not this icing. Because something is wrong with this icing. It's too thin. Let me show you.


1. Look closely at this cookie. Do you see all those hundreds of tiny bubbles? The icing is too thin. All icing has bubbles in it, but thin icing is much easier for the bubbles to move through. So they turn into little race car bubbles and shoot for the top.

2. This one is easier to see in the points of the star. The icing isn't flat. It sticks to the icing outline and then drops in the middle. Like this:


3. I'm sure we all know this one. If your icing moves too fast and overflows your outlines or the edges of the cookie before it has had time to dry... it's too thin.

So what can you do?


You have a couple of options. You can add more thick white icing to the bowl, or you can add sifted powdered sugar to the bowl. I prefer the sifted powdered sugar option because I feel like it doesn't change the color of the icing as much as adding more white icing. BUT... I'm lazy and never really sift it, so sometimes I get powdered sugar clumps.


NEED MORE?





Temperature can affect icing consistency too.



Do this if you're like me and never sift. Ever.


Make hand cutting cookies as easy as possible.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Quick Fall Leaves -- Cookies and Cards


Honestly, how many different ways can a person make fall leaf cookies?

Apparently, I can make them 5 more ways than I already have. And I've already made them a lot of ways. Wet-on-wet, with colored dough and dipped in pumpkin butter cream, I've made them with gold specks and with tiny little daisy dots on them. Actually, that's not that many ways. It's only four. And today I tried them five more ways. Which is way more than double. I have more than doubled the number of ways I can make fall leaf cookies. I'm like a fall leaf making machine.


But the real question is how many ways can a person make fall leaf cookies EASIER?



But first, let's talk about how once a month, I get to rifle though my amazing cousin's super creative paper project blog and make one of her designs into cookies. Like these leaves and umm... autumn type nut things. My goodness! What are they called? Acorns. Whew. That was close.

I originally thought I would just whip out the airbrush I've been hiding in my basement for 7 years. (That is the actual number of years I've had an airbrush without using it.) Then I got all experimenty and couldn't stop myself. I started by flooding all the cookies in white icing and adding brown leaf veins. Then I had a snack. And kind of forgot about them for a day or two. I have a baby. Those things happen. But when I came back....


1. I tried airbrushing. I actually thought it looked pretty good. And I got cocky.
2. So I decided to try airbrushing with a polka dot stencil and more than 2 colors. And that turned out to be... ummm... interesting.
3. So I moved on to luster dusts. But they were a lot more low key than I was looking for.
4. So I tried mixing some food color with water and dabbing it on with a paper towel.
5. And just because I had made a couple leaves with red and brown... I used luster dust on one of them.
6. And the paper towel method on the other one.

Which one is YOUR favorite?

Hands down... I love the paper towel dabbed leaves. They take 5 seconds to color and look super realistic. Well, I mean, as realistic as a royal icing cookie leaf is going to look. AND... it's super fun. It's like kindergarten and coloring all over again. And you don't have to be careful. Except, you might want to wear gloves because that food coloring is not kidding around and you will end up with stained hands for longer than you'd like.


1. Flood the cookie in white and add veins.
2. Scrunch up a paper towel and mix some food color with equal amounts of water. (I know my food color looks radioactive, but truthfully the real picture is with blue food coloring. I didn't think to take pictures while I was doing it this time.) (So I photo shopped it so you could get the basic idea.) (I know it's so hard to tell. What with my mad photo shop talents and all.)
3. Dab it all over the cookie.
4. Add another darker color around the edges and randomly in the middle.

Make more cookies than you need because you are never going to want to stop. It's almost depressing how soon it was all over. I might make some more next week just so I can do it again. And then after that, I'll probably take a nap or something. You know, anything to avoid actual laundry or dishes.

 



NEED MORE?



Check out which cookie of mine Pam made into a card.






Wet-on-wet Fall Leaf Cookies.









Glittered Fall Leaf Cookies.







The tiny daisy dotted leaves. There's no tutorial. Just proof that I might be insane.







No-icing Fall Leaf Cookies and a recipe for Whipped Pumpkin Spice Butter Cream.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Quick Tip Tuesday -- Bake Perfect Circles


Circles remind me of middle school. The taunting, the teasing, the unachievable perfection staring me in the face. Luckily, there's no impossible locker code to remember for baking perfect circles. Just this one simple tip.

Use 2 circle cutters.

The end.

Just kidding. Let's be clear. First, it's super important that you find a recipe you love that doesn't spread. (Try this vanilla or this chocolate one if you need a suggestion.) Then cut out a circle of dough just larger than the circle you actually want. Transfer it in all its wonky, stretching goodness to your baking sheet. Then re-cut with your smaller, perfect circle cutter. Remove the excess cookie dough and...Ta da! Instant perfect circle for baking. The end for real.


NEED MORE?




My favorite set of circle cutters. Arguably my favorite set of cutters ever.


How to pipe a straight line.



Keep your letters clean and sharp.






Put those baked circles to good use with these Halloween circle designs.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Challenge Yourself -- Everyday Monster Cookies


You guys. Remember when I used to have challenges all the time? And then I moved to America and had a baby and all that ended. Guess what? You already read the title.... so I'm assuming this isn't much of a surprise anymore. I'm back with the challenges!!! They aren't going to be monthly anymore. That was just too much pressure to get to the post office regularly. (All of my previous winners know exactly what I'm talking about here.) They are going to be seasonal or quarterly or whatever you want to call it. Basically.... you'll have more than 2 weeks to make the cookies. Less pressure for you. Less pressure for me. Cookies are NOT made well under pressure. Except when they are, because sometimes I just procrastinate my life away until 11pm on Friday night and then... sometimes those cookies are FANTASTIC. But that's not what we're talking about here.


Right now we're talking about monster cookies. These monster cookies. And do you want to know how I made them? I just reached into my cookie cutter bin of despair, otherwise known as "The cutters I intend to put away eventually. Really." and grabbed out a handful. And then I just put icing all over them and added eyeballs. And they're adorable. Except for that weird pink fuzzy thing on the end. I don't like that one. And I almost dropped him from the photo. But I didn't. Because I like you. And you should know that not everything works out like you plan. Especially when you try something different. Do you want to see the cutters I used?


You probably could have guessed most of these by yourself. They're not complicated. Just fun. And THAT is this fall's challenge.

Put your hand into a bin of cutters and pull out a handful. Then make one or more of them into a monster cookie. Take a picture. Upload it to wherever you put your photos these days (including Instagram!) and then link them up down below. The challenge is open until November 4, 2014. Anyone anywhere in the world can enter.


On November 5th, I'll use my good friend random.org to choose a winner of a $20 gift certificate for and donated by The Cookie Cutter Company.

Some links to get you started--



Pre-make eyeballs for quicker monsters.







Monsters on flip-flop cookies.




Monsters on squares.



Monsters on circles.







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