This weekend I decided to get "Gutsy" and challenge myself to make some fancy Christmas cookies for our December Gutsy Cooks Club theme. Now my aversion to baking in general may actually come from many years of failed attempts at making fancy Christmas cookies. I've found them to be messy, needing too much stuff: ingredients, tools, etc...and I plain ole' have never had the patience to pull them off.
We love sugar cookies around here. And I definitely have made tons of batches of them. But for the most part we're talking 1 colored icing, nothing fancy at all, maybe a quick sugar sprinkle. That's it.
But I was inspired by these beautiful cookies I saw here. I figured it was worth a try to get fancy again. I expanded my Tier 3 cookie decorating vocabulary with; piping & flooding, I went and purchased the gel colors, a variety of pastry tips and a Santa head cutter. The funny thing is although I make sugar cookies every year over the years I just decided to throw Santa out. I could never figure out how to give him a face without it looking like a 3 year old had made him. So I just gave up. Until now.
I read up on "the best royal icing recipes" and browsed tons of photos online of Santa cookies. Finally I was ready to conquer my fear and just go for it.
I learned time is really what makes a difference when getting fancy with your cookies. So I set aside time. I made the cookies Saturday morning. Allowed them to cool all day.
I then later that night piped as much of all white parts of the cookies to dry over night. I also did the Santa faces with eyes.
In Cuisine At Home Cookies I found a recipe for decorating that suggested because making royal icing as vibrant as you want it is essentially impossible to brush a cookie with warmed corn starch and then sprinkle the area with color sugar sparkles (definitely a new technique for this fancy cookie novice)...this suggestion was worthy of giving a try.
5 hours later I was fairly happy with my result (Yes, 5 hours later. Thank goodness G was on the mountain as this project consumed every working space of our 1940 kitchen.)
My result definitely was not in any way a comparison to the inspiration cookies that got me started but they were a significant improvement over any sugar cookie that I had made in the past.
They had a crispy cookie and a cute outside.
I knew they were an improvement over years past when G came in and said, "Holy S_ _ _, can I eat them?" Yeah, that's how "unfancy" my before cookies used to be.
But to be honest they previous ones tasted just as good, these were just a bit prettier.
At our house nothing says "The Holidays are Here" like a sugar cookie. And this definitely is not the most "gutsy" an at home cook can get. But for someone who avoids baking as much as I do, making a conscious attempt to "get fancy" was about as fancy & gutsy as I get in the baking genre.
That's one of the many reasons I love the holidays. It's the season and the reason to "gussy or gutsy" it up a bit.