16 December 2009

WWK (Wednesday with kate): Cookie Christmas Ornaments

I'm rebelling, y'all.  For the first time since joining the group, I didn't bake the TWD selection.  (Sorry MacDuff!  I loved your writeup!)  Yeah, yeah, I know it was a super easy one.  I even had everything I needed here at the house.  But...um...I had an irresistable craving for a Vanilla Buttermilk Cake, so I made that, and it was LOVELY.  It also meant I didn't need/wouldn't eat the cookies, plus they sounded like meringues and I do NOT like meringues.  I do plan to get right with Dorie this weekend and make next week's assignment, but for now...

What else did I do?  Well, in addition to the cake, and my first ever from scratch macaroni and cheese, I read and revised and decided this week not to go "home" for Christmas.  So I figured I should acquire a tree for myself.  I've done it before, and it can be an enormously time and money-consuming endeavor when you are starting with nothing.  Knowing I was only gonna have the stuff up briefly, and I'd be gone for at least 3 days, and not knowing whether I'd be reusing any of it next year, I wanted to go economical and simple.  So I got a little 4 foot, pre-lit fake tree, and I decided to reduce the number of ornaments I had to buy by making my own ornaments out of cookies. 

I am (I think) a pretty skilled sugar-cookie baker, but I've only made cookies for eating (and I think I make a kickbutt sugar cookie!)
objects are deliciouser than they appear

This would be an experiment.  The cookies to be nice and sturdy for decorating and hanging, but I don't want them to look clumsy and they don't need to taste good.  And the point is to do it on the cheap.  With the latter goals in mind, I didn't want to use my usual recipe, which is a little temperamental and calls for all kinds of expensive things to make them tasty.

Searching online I found mostly 3 different kinds of recipes:  recipes for regular edible cookies, pleasant but a waste of good ingredients;  cinnamon cookies, simple and inedible but I have none of the ingredients on hand.  The third recipe that I kept finding was for "salt dough" cookies, which sounded promising except that everyone expects you to decorate with acrylic paint, of which I have none.  I really wanted to do my decorations in sugar, which I have plenty of!

So I turned to my cookbooks until I found a suitably simple and home ingredient-friendly recipe.  I settled on Peggy Porschen's "Basic Sugar Cookie" recipe from Beautiful Cakes.  She frequently uses cookies as hanging decorations, so I knew it was sturdy enough to work.  The absence of baking powder told me they probably wouldn't poof and get out of shape, and the ingredient list is short: butter. sugar, flour, egg, flavoring.  I left out the flavoring and subbed shortening for the butter and the cookies came out perfectly, (if tasteless)!

Decorating.  I had limited time--I do have other work going on after all--so I decided to speed things up by using fondant bases for all the cookies instead of flooding them by hand with icing.

waiting for cookies to come out of the oven

For things I won't eat, I really like to use the basic Wilton fondant you can get at the craft store.  It is not the best-tasting commercial fondant AT ALL, but it's really a dream to work with. 

rolls out nice and smooth and is easy to pick up

also, probably the best texture for modeling/detail work!

I attached them to the cookies and added dragees where necessary.  Then I let them sit overnight to harden.


The next day, I decided to paint details on some of the cookies with luster dust.  I was also going to use some royal icing and do some piping, but I accidentally dumped out too much dust, so I figured that was A Sign that I needed to keep it simple, and just stuck to painting in gold and using dragees, edible glitter, and fondant to embellish.

Next day, I beribboned and photographed.  Now they are ready for the tree!  Here's a sample:



I really like how they turned out, and they were fun to do.

Now if I can only get my hands on some unbuttered microwave popcorn, I can finish this tree...


Tia said...

they are so cute! great color choice!

miss kate said...

thanks! I had a hard time making myself take that tree down :-) Kept it up waay past 3 Kings Day.


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