Saturday, May 14, 2011

Yum...sugar cookies for baby shower!!

Who needs a cake for a baby shower, when you can have yummy sugar cookies...or even better, do both, and get a sugar high. Anyway, as you can see, I had some more fun with my Cricut Cake, cutting out simple baby designs and then embellishing them a little with buttercream frosting. I've had friends ask me for my sugar cookie and icing recipes, so I will share those here. For my sugar cookie recipe, click here. The secret to making the cookie dough is to beat the wet ingredients until light and fluffy, and then mix in the dry ingredients until just incorporated, being careful not to mix more than necessary. This will keep your cookies nice and tender. Roll your cookies out on a floured surface, being careful not to roll out too thin. Transfer them onto your baking sheet and then lightly brush the excess flour off with a small paint brush. If your cookies are small, bake them only for the minimum amount of time, 6 minutes. The cookies that you see in the pictures here are 4 inch cookies, and I bake them for 7 minutes. They will not look  brown at all when you take them out of the oven. I let them rest on the cookie sheet for a few minutes while I bake the next batch, and then take them off to let cool on a wire rack. As soon as they are cool (only a few minutes), you can stack them to save room on your cooling rack. When they are completely cool, you can dip small cookies in fondant, or pour and smooth on for the larger cookies. Once the fondant is set, you can decorate with buttercream frosting. My oldest son still enjoys Mom's sugar cookies, even though he is 33 yrs. old. So, even though I can't send him fancy decorated cookies, I usually make heart shaped cookies for Valentine's Day, just spread my buttercream icing on them, and add a few sprinkles. Then I wrap them individually and pack them well in a box with styrofoam peanuts. Below is my poured fondant recipe, as well as my tweaked buttercream icing recipe.

Poured Fondant
This will be a bit difficult, because I never measure my ingredients for my poured fondant, so make sure you experiment on your family first to get the proper consistency.

Powdered sugar
Corn syrup
Flavoring (I usually just use vanilla or butter vanilla)
Warm water

I make the fondant in my KitchenAid mixer, but you can even mix this up by hand, as long as you take time to get all the sugar lumps out. Add powdered sugar to bowl. How much will depend on how many cookies you have to dip. I normally fill my bowl approximately half way. Add about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of light corn syrup and desired amount of flavoring. Then, add warm tap water, a little at a time until your fondant is thin enough for dipping, but not so thin that you can see through it. Mix with flat beater on low speed until smooth. You do not want to add air bubbles to the fondant. With a little practice, you will know when you have the proper consistency. Now, put a cooling rack over a cookie sheet. As you dip the cookies, let the excess drip off, then using your finger, scrape off the edge of the cookie, and put on the cooling rack to allow to drip off any more excess fondant and set. Before the fondant sets, you can add sprinkles if desired, or make designs with colored fondant

Tweaked Buttercream Icing Recipe
This recipe makes enough to ice and decorate a 1/4 sheet or 2 layer 8 inch round cake. When I make this recipe, I usually double the amount. It will stay good in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks or so. Just soften it up for a few seconds in the microwave and stir before using.

1 cup Crisco
1/2 cup salted butter (1 cube)
Flavoring to taste (I use butter vanilla)
1/4 -3/8 tsp. salt
6 cups sifted powdered sugar (or about 5 1/2 cups unsifted)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

You need to use a heavy mixer like a KitchenAid, or something similar, to make this icing. The tweaking I have done to this recipe is not with the ingredients, but with the way I mix it. First, beat the Crisco, butter, salt, and flavoring together on medium speed with the flat beater for several minutes until very light and fluffy. At this point, it will almost look like the finished icing. Then add 1/3 of the sugar and 1/3 of the cream and mix on low until combined. Scrape the bowl and add another 1/3 of each and mix again. Finally, scrape the bowl again, and add the last of the sugar and cream and beat on low until thoroughly combined, being careful to not add extra air into the mixture. The icing should be very smooth and fluffy. The reason for using Crisco is because it holds up better for decorating purposes. If you choose to use all butter, lower the amount of salt to 1/8 tsp. To color the icing, I recommend using liquid paste colors. Also, I drape a kitchen towel around my bowl to help keep some of the sugar dust from flying all over.

Chocolate Buttercream
1 1/2 cups butter (3 cubes)
1/8 tsp. salt
Vanilla to taste
1/2 - 2/3 cup cocoa 
6 cups sifted powdered sugar (5 1/2 unsifted)
5/8-3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

Mix as directed above, adding cocoa powder in with the first addition. Adjust the amount of cocoa powder depending on the richness of the chocolate you desire.

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