Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The Sweetest Thank You
It is no secret to my friends and family that my very most favorite thing to eat and bake is sugar cookies. Not fluffy anemic looking cookies, but flat, crisp, buttery cookies with some sort of icing. Recently we spent a weekend at a friend's lake house, and instead of bringing a hostess gift, I decided to see what they needed in the kitchen. So after a fun weekend of skiing, good food and relaxing, I bought her a few essentials she needed and baked her "thank you" cookies. These were particularly fun, no rules, I kept them colorful and interesting. I used a pastry wheel and ruler to cut my squares and rectangles, and cutters for hearts, circles, fluted rounds. Any shape works, and the variety of shapes and colors made it a stunning thank you. Earlier this spring I posted the Springtime Sugar Cookies with my first video attempt. http://sweetiepetitti.blogspot.com/2009/03/springtime-sugar-cookies.html The icing for those cookies was a little more involved with the decorating tips and the icing was more of a buttercream knock off or fluffy frosting. The other sugar cookie method of icing is the Royal Icing.
Royal Icing is traditionally made with confectioner's sugar, egg white and water. Now that little egg white can churn up a big controversy. Let me just say, I am not compromised health wise, and neither is anyone in my immediate family. However, I share everything I bake, so I tend to use either Just Whites, which are a pasteurized egg product, or Meringue Powder, a product made from dried egg whites and put out by Wilton. The egg white is an integral part of Royal Icing. It lends to the sheen of the finished product and also the stability of it. The icing will dry hard as a rock so the cookies can easily be stacked. Also, the icing can be thinned to flow over the cookie. But, a word of warning, Royal Icing is very sweet, without the presence of fat there is nothing to cut that sugar. Some recipes call for a squeeze of lemon juice which does help, and meringue powder has a little citric acid in it, so it doesn't taste quite as sweet. I like many people find it to be the perfect contrast with the simple sugar cookie. But try both types of icing and decide for yourself. As stated many times on my blog, be sure to use gel paste food coloring for the most vibrant colors, use only real butter for the cookies and Nielsen Massey Vanilla in anything that calls for vanilla. If you are using white icing for your cookies, use the clear artificial vanilla from Wilton, it tastes terrible in comparison, but it gives the icing a boost.
3 egg whites
4-5 cups confectioner's sugar depending on consistency
pinch of salt
water a few drops at a time as needed
In the bowl of electric mixer, combine whites, 4 cups sugar, salt and mix until combined. Turn up power and whip about 5 minutes until fluffy. Add additional sugar and or water to get the proper consistency. To substitute pasteurized whites, follow the measurement chart on the package. To substitute meringue party, follow the manufacturer's recipe that is included for the best results.