Royal Icing Lace Technique

Baking date: December 8, 2019

The unit in my organization decided to have a gingerbread house decorating contest during the lunch hour during December. Teams of four were given a pre-fab gingerbread house kit. In addition to the decorations the kit came with, additional icings, sprinkles, decorations and candies were provided.

Unfortunately, the contest took place on a day that I was teleworking, so I couldn’t participate. I decided I would submit a single gingerbread cookie, decorated with royal icing on the day prior to the contest.

I searched YouTube for ideas on how to decorate the cookie, and found a tutorial on making holly lace.

I decided to make a Christmas ornament with some new cookie cutters I found from Crate & Barrel (seasonal availability):

Cookie cutter

I also found an inspiration cookie for other decorations around the lace, since I was only going to make the lace in the middle of the ornament:

Inspiration Cookie

Here’s my final cookie, in the shape of a bell ornament. I added a red sugar pearl in the center of the holly for a little more color. I piped on the inspiration border around the lace. For both the lace and the inspiration border, I used a #1 tip.

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It is time-consuming, so I’m glad I was only submitting one cookie for the contest!

Thanksgiving & Turkey Sugar Cookies

Baking date: November 12 & 18, 2018

Given that November was over 6 months ago (!),  and that was the last time I posted an update, I guess you could say things have been busy. And yes, I’ve been busy, but I haven’t stopped baking, so be prepared for a flurry of postings — I hope to get up-to-date this weekend.

For Thanksgiving at work, I made my traditional turkey cookies for my co-workers. More accurately, sugar cookies decorated like turkeys. I use a sugar cookie recipe from Food Network. I baked them a week early and stored them in the freezer until the following weekend, when I was ready to decorate them.

Baker’s note: if I’m working on sugar cookies that I’m going to cover in royal icing and don’t have a ton of time to make cookies from scratch, I find that our local Walmart sells sugar cookies by the dozen for under $2. The surface is not smooth, so I only use them if I am going to cover the cookies completely with icing. 

I decided to change up the eyes for the turkeys this time. Instead of an M&M with a dot of black icing, I went with pre-made candy eyeballs secured on top of the M&Ms with some of the cookie icing. I liked how they turned out much better that just a dot of black icing because the white background makes them stand out, even on the darker red and brown M&Ms. Here are all the eyeballs, ready to go on after I iced the cookies.

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I iced the cookies with white and chocolate pre-made cookie icing. I added candy corns around the top edge — 3 or 4 candy corns depending on how big the cookie is. I typically make a few cookies in a large size, and those get 5 candy corns. I placed M&Ms with the candy eyeballs just under the candy corns. I sprinkled multi-colored jimmies between the candy corns and the eyeballs.

Once the chocolate and white icing had set, I used yellow cookie icing (similar to the Betty Crocker brand, but it may have been Walmart’s Great Value brand), I piped on the triangular shape of the beaks, as well as the “feet”.

Here’s the final product:

I also used the icing, M&Ms, and candy corns to create some non-turkey cookies. Here’s the entire batch:

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Of course, I always have to protect my work from our canine counter surfing labs as it dries. Here’s my clever way to do that: IMG_2195

Baker’s note: A few months later, the taller of our two labs showed me just how ineffective this protection method is. 

Making cookies and sharing them with co-workers is just one way to give thanks for all their hard work all year.

Chocolate and Vanilla Cupcakes

Baking date: November 10, 2018

My son Alex, who is a junior in high school, helped coach a youth football team this year.  A number of his teammates do this each season, at various age levels in the youth sports program. My son was assigned to the D2 JV football team (the D1 team is the more competitive group), comprised of 6th and 7th graders. For the Bowl game they had, I made mummy football player and coach cookies.

The JV teams had a group dinner and I brought cupcakes. I made french vanilla and triple chocolate fudge, with white frosting in royal blue and gold foil cupcake holders.  After putting a swirl on the cupcake with a 1M tip, I topped the cupcakes with royal blue and shimmer golden sixlets. I then dusted them with royal blue and yellow sugar sprinkles.

Here they are on the trays, ready to head to the dinner.

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And here’s each version, up close.

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Halloween-themed Gingerbread Cookies

Baking date: October 31, 2018

Each Friday night there is a home game for our varsity football team, the families provide a dinner for them and the coaches. I usually don’t get the sign up information until late, and dessert is always taken by the time I log on.

For the final game of the season, we invite the varsity cheerleaders to join the meal. I asked the team mom to put my name down for desserts before she launched the potluck sign up.

I made gingerbread cut out cookies that I could decorate with royal icing. I used a recipe from the Mary Meade’s Country Cook Book:

Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 cups flour (yes, 8  cups!), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – set aside (for amounts this large, I place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift” them). Beat egg in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water (it will fizz up!). Add water alternately with flour mixture. Chill at least one hour prior to rolling out.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes (oven temps and cook times may vary, also the size of the cookie may mean more or less baking time).

I made some generic Halloween-themed cookies, using white, black, orange, red, purple and green cookie icing, a variety of sprinkles, as well as large and regular candy eyeballs. (Wilton also makes bloodshot eyeball candies – next year!)img_2111img_2113

There were also cookies with royal blue and golden yellow cookie icing, which are the team colors. There was also one huge pumpkin that I shaped from the remaining dough.

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Here are the cookies on the plates:

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The players and cheerleaders were well fed and enjoyed the cookies. Thanks for a great season to all of them!

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Football Player Zombie Gingerbread Cookies

Baking date: October 28, 2018

As  member of the Athletic Boosters for my sons’ high school, I do a lot of picture taking (in addition to managing both the Facebook and Twitter feeds). I take pictures for the JV football team, as we have another football mom with a MUCH better camera/lens than mine who takes pictures of varsity games.

The JV team had a game originally scheduled on Halloween, but due to weather, it got moved to November 1. Unfortunately, the move meant I would not be able to attend the game. But that didn’t stop me from preparing a fun post-game snack for their final contest of the season.

I decided to make Zombie football helmet gingerbread cookies. I used a recipe from the Mary Meade’s Country Cook Book:

Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 cups flour (yes, 8  cups!), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – set aside (for amounts this large, I place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift” them). Beat egg in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water (it will fizz up!). Add water alternately with flour mixture. Chill at least one hour prior to rolling out.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes (time may vary, depending on your oven and the size of your cut out cookie. The gingerbread man cut out I used was 14 minutes).

I used a drinking glass with a wide mouth for the round cut out. I flooded the cookies with white royal icing, and then added the eye section with black royal icing, red royal icing and candy eyeballs, following the basic tutorial video I found on Nicki Lee Bake’s channel. I used royal blue cookie icing to make the helmets, and more of the white royal icing dyed golden yellow to make the helmet stripes and facemask.

Here are the cookies in various states of the decoration process:

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And here are the cookies in their final format. I didn’t personalize them since I wouldn’t be there to help hand them out. There were enough for coaches, as well as the players. Some of the other team moms were gracious enough to take the cookies to the game and hand them out.

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Great season, JV. I look forward to seeing a number of you move up to varsity next year, joining my son Alex as he plays in his senior year.

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Football Player Mummy Gingerbread Cookies

Baking date: October 26, 2018

This year, my son helped to coach players in the junior football program he grew up in. The kids on the team he helped to coach are 6th and 7th graders, who are on the D2 team. The D2 team is more of an instructional level than the competitive D1 squad.

My son always played on the D1 squad when he was in the program. His D2 team made it to a “Bowl” game, that took place October 27. Because it was so close to Halloween, I decided to make the players and coaches football player “mummies”.

I used a gingerbread cookie recipe my mom sent me from the Mary Meade Country Cookbook. The edition my mom has is probably from the mid- to late- 60s. The recipe is:

Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 cup sugar, 1 beaten egg, 2 cups molasses, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 8 cups flour (yes, 8  cups!), 1 teaspoon salt, 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 3 teaspoons baking soda, 1 cup boiling water

Directions: Sift flour, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – set aside (for amounts this large, I place all the ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to “sift” them). Beat egg in small bowl; set aside. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in egg, molasses and vinegar.  Dissolve the baking soda in the boiling water (it will fizz up!). Add water alternately with flour mixture. Chill at least one hour prior to rolling out.  Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes (time may vary, depending on your oven and the size of your cut out cookie. The gingerbread man cut out I used was 14 minutes).

When decorating the cookies, I started with an all white royal icing base. I then piped on a black royal icing square where the eyes would go – I got the idea for the eyes from a Nicki Lee Bakes video tutorial. At first, I thought it looked like a bunch of astronauts!

Spacemen

After I added the red royal icing and then candy eyeballs, I added strips of white using a #46 basket weave tip.  I then used royal blue cookie icing (pre-made royal icing, if you will) to pipe on the helmets, with royal icing dyed golden yellow for the facemask and stripes on the helmet. Finally, I added each players’ number in royal blue cookie icing.

Here are the finished cookies for players:

Player Cookies

These are a few on the ones that I made for the seven coaches (including my son), For those, I piped a baseball hat instead of a helmet:

Coach Cookies

And, of course, we can’t forget the Team “Mummy”:

Team Mummy

I placed each cookie in a treat bag. After the game, as the coaches spoke to them, I handed out cookies to the kids and coaches. I also had made cinnamon spice drop cookies (I use butter, not shortening) for parents, siblings and other fans in attendance.

The kids were a muddy mess after the Bowl game:

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Even though they lost, the kids loved the cookies! I believe you should always be paying it forward as much as possible. Cookies were one way I could do that for these kids.

Below is a slide show of my gentle giant (Walkersville High School varsity O-line tackle), with the kids throughout the season.

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Get Well Soon Red Velvet Cake with Basketball “Court” Frosting

Baking date: October 21, 2018

The head coach of our high school girls basketball team — who is also head of the rec basketball league for ages 5 – 19 — recently had bypass surgery.  While I know that dessert is not necessarily what the doctor ordered for post-op recovery…well, I just can’t help myself.

I reached out to his wife to find out his favorite kind of cake. Turns out his (and maybe his wife and daughters) favorite is red velvet. So a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting was in order.

I started by making Trisha Yearwood’s recipe for red velvet cake. For the frosting, I used canned cream cheese frosting.  When it comes to canned frosting, I do not have a favorite, though I will gravitate to anything that is on sale.

I wanted to do something special with the cake and decided to decorate the top like a basketball court. I tried to think of something unique that would make it look like a court and I immediately thought of sugar wafer cookies. So I iced the top of the cake with the cream cheese frosting and pressed in the full cookies in an alternating pattern to represent the hardwood of a basketball court. I cut some with a really sharp knife for the areas where a partial wafer was needed.

Here’s the top of the cake. I used cream cheese frosting colored royal blue to spell out the message, and some colored black to draw the lines on the court.

Cake

I piped on star bursts around the top and bottom edges. I made a Lion (the youth league and high school mascot) paw in yellow and royal blue candy melts. I added yellow and royal blue candy melt hearts around all four edges.

Turns out the coach’s birthday was just two days after I delivered the get well cake. Happy Birthday, Troy. We can’t wait to see you back on the court!

Troy and Cake