National Sugar Cookie Day!

Hello Cookie Decorators!

Have you baked, iced, eaten, gifted, or crumbled a sugar cookie today??  It’s National Sugar Cookie Day!  Yea! It’s like Christmas/New Years/ and The 4th of July to all of us cookie bakers and decorators!  I’m so excited about it…..I made and gave cookies away yesterday!  (Photos to be posted this week on a new cookie tutorial).

So…..you have the recipes, go bake some cookies.  Give some away……..It makes you feel so happy!

Really Happy Baking!

January Cookie reflection!

January is a great time to start to slow-down and just breathe.
I took a week off and spent time in Colorado. Something about the mountians, LOTS of snow, and being outdoors just calms me down.
It seems like everyone else, I get caught-up in all of the “Holiday Spirit” that I sometimes miss the meaning of Christmas.
Time spent with family and friends is what I really LOVE about the holidays. Re-connecting and making new memories with love ones still with us.
I got to see my sweet nieces and nephew from Orlando, and their folks, We ate cookies, of course! Then, went to parties, carved out time with my family, shopped and shopped and made thousands of cookies for customers across the country. Also taught lots of new cookie classes throughout the Midwest and (starting last spring) began teaching new Skype online cookie decorating classes.
Oh, my…….this is a lot for this little Midwestern gal!

I would encourage each of you to take just a moment to refelct on Holiday, 2010. Would you do anything differently? Yes, we are all scattered and crazy in December, but we must love it!? We do Christmas every year!

Happy New Year!
Cathy

Christmas Cookies on Video!

It’s here! Just when you need it most!
Check out my “Bolg” for the newest “Video Tutorials on Cookie Decorating”.
These are about 2 minutes of quick, little cookie tips to help you with those last minute gingerbread cookie decorating ideas.
They are FREE! Just let me know if they helped.
Happy Holiday Baking!
-Cathy

Decorating Party!

As I’m getting ready to teach a cookie decorating class this week, I started thinking about all the different steps needed to make a class fun and successful.

The same preparation steps I use to teach a class are the same steps you would use to bake and decorate cookies with your kids.

First, make your cookie dough and chill for several hours. While the cookie dough is chilling, decide what cookie cutters you want to use. I like to make cookies similar in size so they will bake evenly. If you really must have a ‘giant butterfly’ cookie then bake this cookie on a baking sheet all by itself. You will be much happier with the results. Remember always use parchment or a Silpat liner on your baking sheets. (Plan on 3 to 4 cookies for each child to decorate.)

Once your cookies have been baked and cooled, it’s time to make the icing.

I would limit your icing colors to five or less. Make several double batches of royal icing and place it in a covered bowl to keep it from drying out.

Take some of the white icing and place it in a medium size bowl. Place a very small amount of color gel or color paste into the icing and mix well.

Pour the colored icing into a quart size freezer zip lock bag. Or place it directly into a prepared pastry bag fitted with a #3 or #4 tip. You can also place small amounts of the colored icing into pint size zip lock bags. Nip a small hole in one of the points and use this as your pastry bag.
Seal the bag(s) well. Repeat with the other colors you make.

If using pastry bags, keep the tips moist by placing them in a tall glass with a damp paper towel in the bottom of the glass.

You are now ready to start your cookie party! Be sure you get out all the sprinkles, jimmies and other candies in the cabinets. Most of all , have fun by turning a dull summer afternoon into ‘arts and crafts time’ that you can munch! Yum!

Royal icing: 1 lb powdered sugar, scant ½ cup water, 5 tbls. meringue powder, 1/8 tea. real vanilla. Beat all ingredients until smooth. Keep covered.

Happy Baking!
-Cathy

To Hot to Bake Cookies???

What??! No baking cookies??  Hey, “It’s too hot to bake”,  you might say. (Even though it’s almost National Sugar Cookie Day!)  Remember….”must make cookies” for July 9th.

Idea, what’s wrong with buying a few baked cookies from your local bakery? (Shop from locals whenever you can.)

The best part of cookie making is the decorating!  Make up some fun, bright colors of Royal icing and let the kids decorate!  Round cookies can be the sun, a beach ball, logos, badges, baseballs, soccer balls…..whatever they can think of.  Just let them have fun!  (Sort of like Dec. cookie decorating in the kitchen, what a fun mess)! Pull out all of the holiday sprinkles, jimmies and silver dragees.  What a great way to fill up an afternoon!  Plus you get to eat cookies!

This is a great rain-y day activity for all ages.  Plus it’s fun when it’s too hot to go outside!

A neat idea: If the ‘store bought’ cookies are soft enough, try cutting shapes with your own cookie cutters.  Just be sure and use simple cutter shapes.  Place the cookie on a hard surface, (cutting board works great) place the cutter on the cookie and press.  Cut all the way through the cookie.  Heart, square and round cookie cutter seem to work best.  You can even use a mini cookie cutter to cut out the center of the  baked cookie for a ‘fun look’.  Decorate cookie as usual.

Happy Baking!

Chill that (cookie) dough!

Wow! It’s hot out there! One very important thing in rolling out any cookie dough, is to be sure your dough is well chilled.  This makes rolling out the dough and cutting cookies out so much easier!  Remember, if your dough is too warm, it will stick to the mat and your rolling pin.  You will end up using more and more flour to keep it from sticking and your cookies will be tough and will grow to giant-size!  So always freeze or really chill dough.

Another tip: place several ice packs on your counter top.  Place the wrapped cookie dough on top. This way as you roll out small amounts of the dough, the rest of the dough will stay chilled.  I use to re-wrap my dough about every 10 minutes to chill it over and over.  Now I can leave it on the counter (on top of  the ice packs). It stays nice and cold.

Happy Baking!

-Cathy