I’m too impatient to enjoy piping and flooding sugar cookies alone. In fact, I find it tedious and virtually impossible. I know some of you feel differently and look at the art of cookie decorating as therapeutic. But for those of us with a shaky hand (especially after a few too many cups of coffee) and a lack of artistic ability, it’s not therapy. In fact it may be the trigger that gets me to a shrink.
But look at the picture. I am so proud. I feel like I can brag a bit since I’ve really worked hard over the years to get to the point of being able to create such pretty cookies. Don’t look too closely though, since they are far from perfect— no straight lines or smooth edges. My decorated masterpieces are more like impressionistic paintings; viewed best from a distance.
This year my friend Jenn wasn’t able to join me in my annual cookie making tradition. She’s now a professional baker after opening The Little Daisy Bakeshop in Montclair NJ, an amazing little dream come true for her. I have Jenn to thank for teaching me most of what I’ve learned (as I’ve written about through the years). I missed her tremendously this year but my friend Christina proved to be a darn good substitute.
For starters, Christina was kind enough to host our cookie decorating in her spacious kitchen, allowing my sloppy self to spread out comfortably among stacks of cooling racks, baking sheets, sprinkles and icing. She mixed and colored the icing, as Jenn used to do, getting the perfect consistency for the edges and filling and also helped me roll and cut some last minute chocolate cookie dough. But most importantly, Christina was there for the encouragement I always need for the project, my gentle nudge to get it done and ultimately, my way to enjoy an otherwise challenging project. I bounced my decorating ideas off of her as she willingly shared unique ways to design whimsical cookies. More often than not, she left her own cookies to make more icing or demonstrate a design idea. We spent five enjoyable hours together, baking and decorating while talking endlessly about who knows what.
This year I used Martha Stewart’s basic roll out sugar cookie recipe, which yields a flatter cookie. I really like the way the chocolate cookies turned out, especially the mittens, and have Wilton to thank for that recipe. Royal Icing is royal icing and as Christina says, you just mix the confection sugar, water and egg white powder slowly until you get the fluffy and tasty consistency you’re looking for.
Holiday traditions, baking, cooking or entertaining, don’t just enrich our lives. Sometimes they make something possible that otherwise could not have happened. Once again I will proudly present these cookies as hostess gifts and to teachers, relishing every bit of their ooh’s and aah’s. I worked hard for those!