Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Happy Halloween Sugar Cookies

Every single year, I love to bake and ice sugar cookies for Halloween.  Whether they're meant for trick-or-treaters or for individuals who are near and dear to me, I make sure to create cookies that are colorful, a bit spooky, and infinitely delicious.  It's nice to see people devour one of my cookies in a few bites, and then tell me that it was so good.  This is what every baker strives for!


This year I baked dozens of cookies with some new cutters that I recently purchased.  With a little help from the Sweet Sugar Belle shapeshifter cookie cutters found at Michael's, I cut out and baked many toothsome Halloween cookies for some people in town.


I love the triangular cookie cutter that makes those wonderful candy corns, along with the skull and tombstone cookie cutter shapes.  The large pumpkin shape (not part of the set) is one that I've had in my pantry for many years, and every Halloween, I always reach for it because it makes such a great cookie.


For this project, you can either use my Heirloom Sugar Cookie Recipe or my very delicious Sugar and Spice Cookie Recipe for the base.  A couple of batches of royal icing, some gel paste colors in black, orange and lemon yellow, and you're on your way to making treats worthy of your Halloween party.


Let's decorate some cookies!


The candy corn cookies are so adorable.  I actually am one of those people who loves candy corn.  In fact, I like to pick out the pumpkin candy corns and keep them all to myself because I like them so much.

Ice the top area in white royal icing and the bottom area in a bright-yellow royal icing.  Let the icings set for at least one hour.  Ice the middle part of the candy using a tasty orange-colored royal icing.  


Let the icing dry completely.  This is the cookie: easy, peasy!!


Cut out the skulls using that wonderful shape, and with the stencil provided in the kit, trace the eyes and nose using a food-writer pen.  Using a #1 piping tip and some black royal icing, outline and flood the eyes and nose.


Using the white royal icing and a #3 piping tip, outline the shape of the skull, and outline the eyes and the nose as shown.  You want to provide a dam for these areas so that the colors stay put.


Immediately flood the rest of the skull in white royal icing and let the skulls dry completely.


For the pumpkin cookies, I outlined and flooded the bases in either orange or white royal icing.  Some pumpkins were then immediately enhanced with some black dots, which were then swirled with a decorator's modeling tool.  I LOVE this effect.


Other cookie bases were left plain.  Once the bases were dry, I then piped spider webs with some black royal icing.  My favorite part of all of the pumpkins was the "candy corn" stem.  Aren't they cute?


While I was in the middle of this cookie decorating project, I was edgy because the royal icing was taking longer than normal to dry.  Due to the humidity and our warm temperatures, my royal icing has not been happy lately.

If you experience this same problem, dedicate a small tabletop fan to speed up the drying process.


The tombstone cookies were given a black bottom and a gray-colored top as shown.  Pipe these areas with either a #3 or a #4 plain piping tip.  Let the bases dry completely.


To finish the skulls, use a #1 piping tip and some black royal icing to pipe the mouths.  The tombstones are given a R.I.P. decoration with a stencil and some black royal icing.  White dots are added to the perimeter of the cookies.

Done and done!



Nothing could be easier than a set of these Halloween sugar cookies. Presented on antique and vintage wire cooking racks like these, anyone's Halloween party will be off to a good start.  If you want your guests to take these treats home with them, provide a set of some jack-o-lantern and kitty cat treat bags in a bowl, so that each person can package up their treat(s).  

From my home to yours, have a safe and Happy Halloween this year!  

Monday, October 16, 2017

Bridal Shower Cookies

Making any type of sugar cookie decorated with royal icing requires some planning, time management, and very good ingredients.  I like to begin these projects several days before the event, so that I don't run into problems.

Recently, I had the pleasure of making some bridal shower cookies in the shapes of tuxedos and wedding dresses for a dear neighbor.  Although I have never created any wedding cookies before, I do own several cookie cutters perfect for such an occasion. 


The wedding dress cookie was made with a copper cutter that I purchased from a very good friend several years ago, and the tuxedo top came from a recent purchase of Sweet Sugarbelle cookie cutters at Michael's.  If you don't own the shape shifters set from Sweet Sugarbelle, I highly recommend getting it because the cookie cutters lend themselves to so many things.  

After baking the cookies, I made several batches of royal icing in black and white.  For this project, I made sure to have a flooding consistency icing, as well as a stiff royal icing in both colors.  


I altered the dress-shaped cookies before I even baked them.  The original shape of the cookie cutter had a skirt with a scalloped bottom, so I decided to trim the scallops of the cookies using a "trim edger cutter" from that set of shape-shifters I mentioned earlier.  After baking and cooling the dresses, I traced a sweetheart bodice, and a two-part skirt with a Wilton Food Writer pen.


The gowns were then iced in several stages.  The outside areas of some of the ball gowns were outlined and flooded in white royal icing using a #3 piping tip.  I then placed either white or pink pearl candies along the centers as shown.  The areas were left to dry completely.  I then outlined and flooded the center areas of the skirts  with the same white royal icing, and left them to dry completely.  The sweetheart bodices were then outlined and flooded with white royal icing using a #2 tip, and were immediately flocked with either coarse, clear sanding sugar (for sparkly tops) or with white nonpareils (for pearly tops).  The cookies were left to dry completely.  Any stray sugar crystals or nonpareils were removed after the tops were dry.


White royal icing dots were added to the neckline of the cookies with a #2 tip to create a delicate pearl necklace, and more dots were placed along the edges of the gowns as shown.  The center area on some of the skirts were enhanced with a super-white edible glitter; dip a small brush into the glitter pot and carefully paint it onto the dried royal icing.  The glitter won't immediately stick to the icing, but if you leave it alone, it will settle.  I treated the bare areas of the cookies with the same edible glitter.  Voila!


The tuxedo tops of the gentlemen were made using the adorable "gift box with ribbon" cutter from Sweet Sugarbelle.  Her set of cutters comes with recipes and decorating instructions.  She had a version of this tuxedo top that I fell in love with, so I used it!  The tuxedo jacket areas were outlined and flooded with black royal icing as shown.  These areas were left to dry completely.


Don't they look spiffy already?


Bow ties were outlined and flooded with the same black royal icing using a #1 piping tip.  A single drageĆ© was placed in the middle of the bow tie.  This area was left to dry completely.  I then used a #2 piping tip and some white royal icing to fill in the shirt, and while the icing was still wet, I piped black shirt studs down the middle.  The cookies were then left to dry completely.  

The lapels and the edges of the bow ties were piped with a #1 tip, and some black royal icing (it has to be stiff).  Done! 


As you can see, I modified the skirts and the bodices on most of the gowns to give some variety.  All of the tuxedos, though, were exactly the same.  I loved the way the wedding gowns sparkled!


Wrapped in clear cellophane bags and tied with white ribbons, the Bridal Shower Cookies were ready to be placed on platters for gift-giving.


It's a certainty that you will know of a bride-to-be in the near future.  If you happen to be adept at making royal icing cookies, consider making a set of cookies for a bridal shower.  Use these cookies as a guide or create your very own edible works of art.  Make sure that you make a cookie for everyone attending the bridal shower.  In fact, make extras just in case.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Martha Stewart's 'Newlywed Kitchen' Cookbook

The latest publication to come from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living is a beautifully photographed, well-organized and practical cookbook dedicated to newlywed couples.  One should look at Martha's 'Newlywed Kitchen' as a sensible, attainable and delicious compilation of recipes for anyone starting a home. In this book you will get tips on how to stock a pantry, what essential kitchenwares to buy for your home, choosing the right china and linens for the table, and of course, a good amount of recipes for weekday meals, weekend brunches, desserts and even holiday get-togethers.    


Personally, I think it's rather genius to have a cookbook with recipes that make two servings, instead of the usual four and over.  Martha's book will not only be useful for the newlywed couple, but it will be exceptionally helpful for any couple who wants to cook fresh, delicious meals, without having to waste time, energy and resources making large quantities of food.  As I said, it's brilliant.


The chapter on Serving Essentials is great because you get a thorough digest of must-have dinnerware, glassware, serveware, linens and entertaining accessories.  Pay attention to these suggestions as they will come in handy.


The layout of the recipes makes it easy to follow each step, and the photography is nothing short of beautiful.  It's what we've come to expect from a Martha Stewart publication.  


About halfway through the book, there are some "cooking school" lessons called 'Mix-and-Match Mains & Sides', which focus on a main dish, with all of the essential how-to steps, in addition to four side-dish suggestions.  This allows you to pick and choose from week to week.  How great is that?  Again, the sides serve two!


Let's not forget desserts and the Gather Round chapter which gives us menus for a small crowd, and instructions on how to cook a Weekend Brunch, A Game Day Chili,  a Fondue Dinner, a Taco Fiesta, among others.  Included in this chapter is a thorough Thanksgiving Day dinner and a wonderful Holiday Cocktail party menu.



I could go on and on about Martha's Newlywed Kitchen, but I'll leave the rest for you to discover.  Newlywed Kitchen is out November 7th, so don't miss the opportunity to order a copy of this book as soon as possible.  It will be the perfect addition to any wedding registry, a great gift this holiday season for any couple, and it will fit in nicely in your own kitchen library.  Think of it as your go-to cookbook when it's just the two of you and you want something delicious for dinner. 

You're going to love this book!!

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Baby Pumpkin and Baby Face Sugar Cookies

Baby pumpkin onesie cookies and baby face sugar cookies are great for surprising a mother-to-be this autumn.  These cookies are so adorable and easy to make, that you're going to want to bake dozens of them for the expecting mother's baby shower.  Find appropriate cookie cutters, some good recipes for sugar cookies and royal icing, and set aside a day or two to pipe the simple designs onto baked and cooled cookies.


From the designers and coppersmiths at CopperGifts, the baby face cookie was made with the boy cutter from the Baby Face Boy and Girl Cookie Cutter Set.  The cute onesie was made with the Baby Onesie Cookie Cutter.  I used my heirloom sugar cookie recipe and my royal icing recipe (use the search engine on the blog to find the recipes) for the cookies you see here.

Once the cookies had been baked and cooled, I mixed small batches of royal icing in ivory (baby face), light brown (baby eyes and hair), light pink (baby's mouth), avocado green (onesie detailing), and pumpkin (for the pumpkins and onesie detailing).  White royal icing was used for the bodies of the onesies.


For the onesies, outline and flood the bases of the cookies in white royal icing; let dry completely.  Using the avocado-green royal icing and a #2 piping tip, pipe beads of icing for the arms, neck and leg lines of the onesie, and pipe dots for the onesie snaps as shown.  Using a stiff royal icing tinted a pumpkin color (orange mixed with a tiny amount of brown) and a #22 open-star tip, pipe small "pumpkins" toward the bottom of the onesie as shown.  Hold the piping bag at a 45-degree angle to get the correct shape of the pumpkin.  Using a cookie decorating pick with a spade end, push the tips of the "stems" of the pumpkins downward, so that they don't stick out.


Using the avocado-green royal icing and a #2 piping tip, pipe dots for the stems of the pumpkins as shown.  Let dry.


Using the pumpkin-colored royal icing and switching to a #2 piping tip, pipe dots along the neck and arms of the onesies as shown.  Let dry.

As soon as the cookies have dried completely, package them up in clear cellophane bags and tie them with a colorful ribbon.  Easy!


For the baby face sugar cookies, outline and flood the bases of the cookies in ivory-colored royal icing using a #4 or #5 piping tip; let dry.  Using the light-brown royal icing and a #2 piping tip, pipe the swirly "hair" onto baby as shown, and pipe two dots for the irises of the eyes.  Immediately place black pearl candies in the centers of the eyes to create pupils.  Using the light-pink royal icing and a #1 piping tip, pipe a small smile onto the baby's face as shown.  Let the icing dry completely.



Last, but not least, use a little bit of pink petal dust and a very fine paint brush (keep brushes exclusively for cookie decorating) to apply the tiniest amount of blush onto the baby's face.  Cuteness!!  The cookies are now ready for packaging.





How easy was it to decorate these little cutie pies?  It's hard to resist baby pumpkin onesies and baby face cookies.  There is no reason to stick with the standard light pink or light blue for a baby shower.  Made this way, and by using an autumnal color palette, you can make the cookies in keeping with the season.  It's a good thing too, especially if you don't know if the baby is to be a boy or a girl.  Keep them guessing right up until the end!