Because I don’t often cook for more than two people, I go a little overboard when I’m attending potlucks, which is the case for this Sunday’s Super Bowl gathering. Officially, I’m bringing chipotle guacamole and chocolate chip cookie-bottom vanilla cupcakes, but I went on a bookmarking binge, and now I’m unofficially bringing, like, seven dishes.
These Giants-themed sugar cookies might get some jeers because I’ll be the lone Big Blue fan at the party, but I’m hoping my friends will at least appreciate the effort because, honestly, this was a lot harder than I thought it would be! I actually had never made a sugar cookie until this week, and the last time I decorated a cookie was probably 20 years ago. I had no idea how much prep goes into making cute cutout cookies with moderate aesthetic value. Thankfully, I came across brown eyed baker’s fantastic, step-by-step guide to decorating with royal icing. Mine are nowhere near as pretty as hers, but I don’t think it was too bad for a first go.
♦2 c. flour
♦1/2 tsp. baking powder
♦1/2 tsp. salt
♦2 sticks butter, room temperature
♦1 c. sugar
♦1 tbs. brown sugar
♦1-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine flour, baking powder and salt in bowl, and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugars on medium until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, and beat on medium for 30 seconds. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix on low until combined. Shape dough into a disk and wrap tightly with plastic wrap. Place in fridge for at least an hour. (NOTE: I refrigerated my dough for 24 hours, and it was so hard that I thought I did something wrong. Really, I was just impatient and it needed 10 minutes to slightly thaw, but I instead repeatedly hit it with a rolling pin. Hope my neighbors didn’t mind that racket…)
You can either flour the counter or roll dough between sheets of parchment paper to avoid sticking. Dip cookie cutter in flour before each press. Place shapes on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until edges turn slightly brown. Remember, these cookies look uncooked, but you can easily burn the bottoms if you don’t pay close attention. Place on rack and let cool completely before frosting. (I waited two hours.)
FOR ROYAL ICING
♦3 egg whites, room temperature
♦4 c. powdered sugar
♦1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
♦food coloring/gel coloring
Attach wire whisk to stand mixer. Beat egg whites, powdered sugar and cream of tartar on low until combined. Stop and scrape down ingredients. Beat on medium for 7-10 minutes until royal icing is shiny and thick. If it needs to be thicker, add more powdered sugar.
Again, I would recommend using brown eyed baker’s tutorial on the best tools and techniques for decorating (plus step-by-step photographs). I used a little bit of makeshifting in a panic (plastic bags, tape, cupcake icing, sprinkles [I’ll explain later]), but you should probably take a more composed approach.
This frosting recipe yielded way more than I needed. I divided it into three bowls, proportionate to the colors needed, i.e. blue 80%, red and white 10% each. I then added all the coloring gel and liquid food coloring I had and the blue still wasn’t royal enough. (Good thing the Giants aren’t playing Carolina or some other baby blue team.)
I slopped some blue icing into my handy dandy piper and outlined each helmet and jersey with what turned out to be a bit-too-thick stroke. I then filled a squirt bottle — which you can find at any craft store — with some blue icing and added a few teaspoons of water. This mixture is used for “flooding,” a technique that makes the icing easier to spread and produces a smooth look atop your cookie. (And it’s really fun.) Squirt some of the runny mixture inside your lining and spread with a toothpick until completely coated.
NOTE: Everything I’ve read about royal icing recommends placing a dampened towel over what’s not in use because it dries very quickly. I didn’t want to take the chance of losing any icing, but I got it in my head that I needed to race through everything. Yes, you do need to cover the icing with damp towels, and that will earn you at least seven hours of usable icing, so take your time! (I tested it overnight, and it was still usable in the morning.)
Here’s the part where you should let everything dry completely before adding more details, but it was 11:30 p.m. by the time I got to this step, and I was getting cranky. This resulted in some questionable design work on my part, so next time, I’ll be a bit more careful. At one point, I was handpicking red sprinkles out of a tub of rainbow to make my more-pink-than-red icing the appropriate color, so I think you get where my frustration was coming from.
In the end, though, I was pretty proud of my work and I can’t wait to give this another try — maybe something that’s yellow and/or green, because that’s the only food coloring I have left.