Feb 13

Mis-Adventures in Cookieland

I cannot remember exactly when I first came across sugar cookie decorating. I have only known of the types where people kinda just drizzle fondant or royal icing in a random fashion to coat. I think I was fourteen when I tried making decorated sugar cookies for Valentine’s day following a random recipe. Needless to say it didn’t turn out so well. Many years later, in 2009, I attempted to make my own version for a Christmas giveaway box. It went okay, but I wasn’t entirely thrilled with my handiwork ~ they looked a bit too plain, and the cookie was way too crumbly.






Yupp, that was me ~ Christmas 2009, learning how to bake. Never could before. Never bothered, really, after several mishaps in the kitchen that put me off baking and I convinced myself I was simply no good at it. Not born with baker’s fingers. But then I moved in with R. and he had a kickass oven (which he never used) in a lovely kitchen with marble tops (which he never used). Compared to what I had in my own kitchen, this was Martha Stewart’s kitchen lab! So I started baking … albeit, really badly.



I had ideas but I did not know how to go about achieving them. Where to begin?? As with any baking novice, I started with the obvious, … cupcakes. I never iced them in the beginning coz I didn’t even know how to make frosting or buttercream. I found creaming butter and sugar tedious and I had no patience for weighing out ingredients. Why can’t we just throw in a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, like in cooking? Eyeballing quantities got me in trouble. A lot.



At Christmas I decided to make Christmas goodie boxes for my colleagues at the hospital. It was an ambitious project for my inept level of skill but I ensured there was to only be a minimal amount, or at the very least, simple baking requirements. I decided on seven different treats, of which only four made it to the Christmas box. The rest were either tossed in the bin or given away to close pals who understood my anguish.




Mini Christmas Puddings, White Chocolate & Cranberry Crackles, Mini Mince Pies and Sugar Cookies.




The next time I attempted to make a Christmas giveaway box was when we moved here to the Netherlands and we finally bought our house. I wanted to make sugar cookies again, and I am pretty sure I discovered the fabulous cookie-decorating people on YouTube round about this time. I was amazed by the stuff people were doing with their cookies. I was immediately drawn to the technique of flooding cookies with royal icing and told myself, “I’m going to do that this year and wow everybody with my mad skills!”. Delusions of Grandeur.







LOL!!! How bad do these look!!! I still laugh when I look at these photos. Soooo many things wrong there, but at the time I thought I was in total control of the situation. For starters, I didn’t use a proper sugar cookie recipe. I just thought any ‘ol cookie would to. WRONG! So I ended up with a drop cookie with tapered edges, and an irregular shape after they came out of the oven.



The other mistake was my icing. I thought I was doing myself a favour by buying a Wilton royal icing pre-mix, which said on the pack ‘Just Add Water’ … so I did. The product must be fool-proof, right? It never saw the inside of a mixing bowl, nor the blades of my paddle beater. I literally just took the icing powder and stirred in some water. I was disappointed with the results and immediately vowed never to buy such a product again. *facepalm*  The icing had the consistency of wallpaper glue, and when applied to the cookies it was runny and translucent in some areas. It did not hold its shape when piped and it dribbled everywhere; down my fingers, on the table, on the floor. I resigned myself to failure then and have never made a sugar cookie since.



It’s been two years since, and I believe my understanding of cookie crafting has improved. In that time I have discovered amazing people like Bakerella, Sweetopia, SweetSugarBelle and the fabulous SweetAmbs who, by the way, makes craazzzzy beautiful cookies that are way too beautiful to eat. Each one is an incredible work of art ~ I want to frame them.



Watching their video tutorials and reading hours and hours of instructions has reignited my desire to attempt sugar cookie crafting. I went one step further and bought a beginners guide to cookie decorating, to act like a security blanket more than anything else.






This book … well, I don’t really know what to make of it. I have very mixed feelings about the whole thing. On the plus side, it has a gorgeously designed front cover; and I am a sucker for hard cover books, which this one is. Extensive table of contents which promises to tell you everything you’ll need to know about the craft from ingredients, to techniques, recipes and tips. But that’s where it all stops for me, for I found the actual content itself … erm … uninspiring? Perhaps I have done far too much research on my own and watched countless videos on the web already so by the time I flipped through the pages of this book I didn’t find anything that made me go “Ahhh …! I never knew that!” Beautiful glossy pictures of cookie decorating ideas tho … page after page of the stuff.







All the instructions are very easy to follow, and the majority of the instructions are about how to decorate your cookie just like the one featured in the book. I simply skipped to the recipe page and stayed there. I guess this book would better suit a person who reeeeallly reeeaaally has no idea about cookie decorating and has chosen this book as a first point of reference. A clean slate, you know. In other words, I think this book isn’t for me but I’ll keep it anyway coz it’s pretty.



In the meantime, I made these cookies today using a basic sugar cookie recipe from the Cookie Craft book, and for the royal icing recipe I used Sweetopia’s.






I altered the cookie recipe to include my favourite spice blend coz I like spiced cookies ~ gingerbread being my favourite. I used orange, vanilla, a hint of cinnamon and cardamom in this one, sorta going for the chai feel here. The icing was spiked with the tiniest hint of vanilla coz I wanted the full flavour of the cookie to still come through.









Am over the moon with how nice they turned out, so now I am going to give them all away on Thursday. I have a “date” with an old friend who is coincidentally flying in on a short trip. I hope he likes cookies. *gulp* R. is not big on cookies. He is a huge fan of chocolate pudding and custard tho … so perhaps that shall be our dessert Thursday night. All this talk of puddings and sweets, yet I haven’t even thought about what I am going to cook for our Valentine’s dinner! R. would simply say, “… let’s have the dessert for dinner!“. Heh, nice try, wise guy.








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