Monday, June 6, 2011

Summertime Butterfly Cookies with Royal Icing

It's been a rainy, nasty spring here in Northern California.  Last weekend was no exception, so my munchkin and I decided to make some cutout cookies.

I've recently read a bit about decorating cookies with royal icing for that super smooth finish.  I am a buttercream girl and I've never tried the royal route.  But part of the reason for this blog is to encourage myself to try new things.  So I came upon this blog where the blogger does all kinds of great, beautiful cutout cookies with royal icing.  I mean, they are gorgeous! Here is the link.

So we went out and picked up the few supplies we needed (namely, meringue powder and squeeze bottles.)

I ended up making an orange flavored sugar cookie dough and an orange flavored royal icing.  The orange sugar cookies I adapted a little bit from this recipe for lemon cut out cookies.  I changed the lemon zest and juice to orange, and increased the amount slightly.  I also used Splenda for baking, as I do for most recipes.  And we decided to make butterflies, since we needed a boost of summery-ness.

Orange Cut-Out Sugar Cookies
3 cups unbleached flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup Splenda blend for baking
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp orange zest
1 tsp orange juice

Preheat oven to 350.   In one bowl, mix together flour and baking powder and set aside.  In another bowl, beat together butter and sugar until fluffy.  With a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment.  Add is eggs, vanilla, orange zest and juice.  Beat until well combined.

On low speed, add the flour a little at a time and beat until well blended.  Turn the dough out onto a flat surface to knead by hand.

(At this point, I wrapped up the dough in plastic wrap and put in the fridge for 2 days-I took it out for a half hour to warm up a little and it was perfect)

I use this large Tupperware mat for rolling out dough.  It was my mom's and she gave it to me at some point.  It make clean up a snap.  And I love my French rolling pin.

Roll out on a flat surface to about a 1/4" thickness and cut shapes.  Place on baking sheets lined with parchment or silicon sheets.  I personally use Pampered Chef baking stone that I have had for years.  They are very well seasoned and I don't need to use anything on them.  Food slides right off.

Bake cookies for 9-12 minutes.  Remove to cooling racks and let them cool completely.

Now for the icing:
Orange Royal Icing
4 Tbsp meringue powder
scant 1/2 cup water
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/2 tsp light corn syrup
1/2 tsp orange extract

Combine meringue powder and water and beat until foamy (I used my Kitchenaid stand mixer, as I always do for icing.  SO much easier.)

Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low until combined.  Add in corn syrup and orange extract.

At med-high speed, beat for 5-10 minutes, until glossy and stiff.  It will be very stiff, but be careful not to overbeat.

Now comes the decorating!  This part was much more time consuming than I had really thought it would be.  I've done lots of decorating with buttercream before, but this was a lot different.

First, I separated the icing into the different colors I wanted.  We decided to make our butterflies yellow and pink, with green bodies and outlines.  So, since I would be doing outlining with the green, I left that nice and thick.  For the pink and the yellow, since I would be using them to "flood" the cookies, I thinned out using a little water at a time, until it was about the consistency of maple syrup (the real stuff!)

I was surprised at how light royal icing is.  Buttercream is very thick from the butter, but the royal icing is thick, but very light.

Once I had the icings separated and colored, I put them into a piping bag and squeeze bottles and set to work.  First, I did the outlining on the butterflies.

I let that dry for a little while (about 20 minutes) and then added the flood icing.  I neglected to take pictures of that part, but here is a good youtube video tutorial.  I added some dots and did some swirls and the munchkin helped a bit with it all.

They aren't perfect, but for my first time trying royal icing, I was pretty happy with how they turned out.  They took a long time, but on a rainy weekend, we had plenty of that.  I still like the taste of buttercream better, but these were interesting and the icing was neat to work with.  The flavor of the icing is pretty bland, but that let the orange flavor in the cookies really shine through.

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