In the past four months, I’ve been settling into my new role at Edelman as the community manager for their client, Kraft Canada. That means I get to further indulge my love affair with food, recipes and social media. Check out the Kraft what’s cooking Facebook page and you’ll see what I mean. Fun, exciting times!
But no matter what I bake, make and write, please know that all of my thoughts and opinions shared here at prettybakesblog.com are my own and not my employer’s or their clients’. Get it? Got it? Good.
Let’s chat Easter cookies, shall we?
Photo by Jennifer Melo
I wanted to make simple, pretty, customized cookies for my family this Easter and I really should’ve referred to my royal icing consistency problems post before starting this cookie-decorating project. But I was feeling rushed and sick, so, nope! I skipped the research and went straight to mixing, baking and decorating. Bad idea.
I didn’t take my own advice. I should’ve tested the royal icing’s consistency. Results?
My flooding consistency was too thick and my piping consistency was too thin. So I ended up with lumpy surfaces and only one or two smooth surfaces. Boo! Hiss. Some day I’ll learn. Regardless, something tells me I need lots more practice with royal icing.
Cutting corners = execution #fail
Instead of using a piping tip and bag, I used a zip-top bag with a tiny snip cut out of the corner. That worked well for outlining and it would’ve worked well for flooding if my icing had been thinner. But I found that the thin plastic didn’t shield the warmth from my hands enough so the icing melted too much. And that made things extra difficult for a piping-challenged girl like me to pipe borders and letters.
Photo by Jennifer Melo
A hurried, sick baker = doom
I must confess I was feeling rushed and quite sickly throughout this baking project. I’ve come down with a nasty cold so my heart wasn’t fully into it as my bed and the couch called out to me. I fought fatigue, sore throat and a runny nose, with enough hand-washing to leave my hands red, rough and raw. Way to kill my baking buzz, yucky germs! Pthttt 😛
Did I also mention I was babysitting two adorable nieces and had a meeting with an accountant?
Me: Where did I put those tax receipts?
Bed: Wouldn’t you feel better if you just lay down for a while?
Couch: No, pick me! I’ve got the better TV-viewing angles.
Cookies: Decorate me! Decorate me!
Germs: Paaartay! *shimmy, shimmy, shimmy*
In hindsight, I think bit off more than I could chew this long weekend. But on the plus side, the cookies are sooooo delicious. They’re crumbly, buttery sweet goodness. So I’ll happily chew on that.
Photo by Jennifer Melo
Want the recipe? I decided to try some kraftcanada.com recipes and am delighted to report easy and tasty results.
Easy-Mix Cookies – Basic Batter recipe, with a variation: I added 1 tsp of vanilla extract and mixed it in with the butter right from the start.
Royal Icing – I’d definitely try this recipe again. The icing was fluffy and light. Next time, I’ll test the consistency and I’ll be sure to sift the icing sugar.
Next week: I’ll be baking and decorating a 2-tiered fondant cake for my niece Lauren’s 10th birthday. Now if only this cold would bugger off. The party’s over, germs, so get lost.
Whether you’re keeping close to — or keeping away from — your couch this weekend, I hope you have a fabulous time. Have a wonderful Easter!
After struggling with several royal icing issues, I was happy to have a few bunny cookies with relatively smooth surfaces. Their faces are so cute, they distract you from my decorating mistakes.
You didn’t notice them at first, did you?
I learned that I should’ve used a “boo-boo stick” to push down peaks and smooth the icing while it was wet. What the heck’s a boo-boo stick, you ask? First, you should know that I didn’t just make up this device. It really exists! You can buy a boo-boo stick at karenscookies.net. Or you can use a toothpick, a scribe or another modelling tool.
The pink icing I used to pipe the ears and nose was too thick. The ears, in particular, could’ve really used some work with a boo-boo stick.
Royal icing tests my patience. And I failed the test.
I set the cookies to dry overnight but I had places to go, people to see, and cookies to decorate, so after about 14 hours of drying time, I tried to draw on a cookie with an edible-ink marker and I learned something new.
What happens if you try to decorate cookies before royal icing dries completely? You crack the smooth surface and your marker sinks into the icing like this…
Oops! I poked a hole in the icing. Photo by Jennifer Melo
- Use a boo-boo-stick to smooth any lumps, bumps and peaks while the royal icing is wet.
- Wait at least 24 hours before trying to decorate. The humidity in your decorating environment, royal icing consistency and how thick you layer on the icing can influence drying time. My cookies needed about 32 hours to dry completely.
- Use a light touch if you’re using food colouring markers in case the icing isn’t as dry as you suspect it is. The top layers may appear dry to the touch but a little pressure can reveal soft royal icing below the surface.
- Get your royal icing consistency right.
I went to Homesense in search of bar stools the other day but instead of coming home with seating, I returned with a few extra baking supplies. My favourite find is these FoodWriter edible food colour markers from Wilton ($10).
Green, blue, red, black and yellow food colouring markers. Photo by Jennifer Melo
My piping technique sucks but I have plenty of practise with markers after years of colouring pages with my nieces. So food colouring markers are genius inventions for novice cookie decorators like me.
Food colouring marker tip is fine at the end for details and thick on the sides for shading. Photo by Jennifer Melo
Although these markers are of the bold tip variety, the tip’s not so bold that you can’t use it to draw some detail work. Here’s a shot of the packaging in case you want to find it in stores.
FoodWriter edible colour markers packaging. Photo by Jennifer Melo
I couldn’t wait to try using these markers and I had just the baking project coming up to put these bad boys to use. I soon discovered that cute Easter bunny cookies are adorable when I can draw, rather than pipe, a face.
Easter hunt cupcakes. Photo by Jennifer Melo
Last Easter, I used my grass tip for the first time when I made this Easter egg hunt cupcake, inspired by the adorable Easter cupcakes at tasteandtell.com and I was pleased with the results. I also tried spreading a buttercream on top and rolling it onto a plate of tinted coconut and the grass-tip piped cupcake won out because it looked more realistic that the coconut which tasted great but looked more like
AstroTurf synthetic grass to me.
See what I mean?
Cupcake “grass” with piped buttercream (left) and tinted coconut (right). Photo by Jennifer Melo
How to pipe buttercream grass
Use the grass tip, hold it above the cupcake and very close to the surface.
Squeeze, stop squeezing, pull up. Repeat in a circle all around the cupcake and wor your way to the center.
Watch this helpful video demonstration from Cookies, Cupcakes and Cardio and see how it’s done.
Easter egg hunt cupcakes, ready for a party. Photo by Jennifer Melo
When you’re done piping, top your cupcakes with Cadbury mini eggs (you really can’t leave me alone with a bag of these).
What do you think? Do they need some cute Easter bunny cookies to complete the Easter theme?
Easter egg cookies. Photo by Jennifer Melo
Last year, I tried my hand at Easter egg sugar cookies with royal icing. But most of the royal icing recipes I found called for meringue powder (and I didn’t have any on hand) or raw egg whites (and with young nieces, I didn’t want to risk salmonella poisoning.)
Royal icing without eggs or merengue powder
I finally found a recipe in a cookbook that simply called for icing sugar, water and some lemon juice. So I tried it.
I tinted the icing with green, red, blue and yellow (not shown here) food colouring.
Royal icing for Easter egg cookies. Photo by Jennifer Melo
You can tell that the consistency of the icing was a bit too watery because there’s some run-off on some cookies and the shapes I tried to pipe didn’t hold too well.
Drippy Easter egg cookies. Photo by Jennifer Melo
When I tasted the icing, it was quite lemony but I thought the icing flavour was quite good. My niece Aliya disagreed. It seems the tartness of the lemon juice didn’t please her palate. Noted for next time: Too much lemon might be off-putting for kids.