A Holiday Cookie Tale
December 14, 2020
Like some of you, I have been endlessly watching the Food Network, especially the holiday baking competitions! I'm obsessed with them.
I don't know why, because I don't bake...ever. But I liken myself to a creative person. Perhaps one of my strengths (and weaknesses) is that I believe I can do anything!
So I decided to take the plunge and try my hand at elevated holiday sugar cookie decorating, complete with royal icing, flooding, and fine detail work.
Now mind you, I don't own any of the tools needed to do such work. I gleefully buy all sorts of supplies...piping bags, tips, and couplers (I had to google how to put it all together and use), meringue powder, scribing needle, professional food coloring, edible markers, and a few other gadgets that made me believe cookie decorating was going to be a breeze!
With all the technical supplies on hand, I headed to the grocery store yesterday morning to buy the supplies. Flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract, baking powder (the one I had was probably three years old), confections sugar, disposable containers.
Whew. As I dig into the details of my cookie recipe, I read how important it is to have the unsalted butter at room temperature...otherwise, the cookies will not hold their shape. And it also forwarned me not to cheat by melting in the microwave. Drats. Another google search yielded the information that it would take 1 hour or so to achieve the desired temperature of 65 degrees.
By now, it is almost noon, which means I won't be baking my cookies until 1:30 or so. Okay, no problem. Decorating won't take too long! I start looking at my royal icing recipe and watching videos on how to flood cookies. I have to create different densities of the icing...one for piping and the other for flooding. And, oh, by the way, the frosting will harden if left out too long.
I have visions in my head of red, pink, black, green, blush, blue. I am going to get fancy, right?
My butter is finally ready! And I mix up a batch of sugar cookies, follow instructions on rolling it out to 1/4"...but wait, what? Do I have to chill the dough before cutting out my cookies? Cheese and crackers. How long should I chill my dough? 1 to 2 hours, according to my google baking resource. This project is no longer fun. And my patience is wearing thin.
I waited an hour, cut out the cookies, and baked for 12 minutes. I cool them in my freezer to get this all day (not so fun) decorating adventure started!
With my cookies cooling, I begin to make my royal icing. It was relatively easy to make. I decided to make things easy for myself and pipe and flood all of my cookies with white as the base, and then I would get ultra creative with all of my colors of icing that I would make one at a time.
Okay, I did an average job. I thought to myself, next time, I will be better. I decided to only work on half of the cookies in my batch. I was getting frustrated, impatient and promised to take my daughter holiday cookies later in the day. Time was running out. (It is now about 3:45)
By this time, I made the executive decision to simplify my life by only mixing up black and red icing to get the cookies out the door. My kitchen was an absolute mess; I had food dye and royal icing all over my hands, my dogs keep wanting to go outside (they were bored with my project too), and I am not having a joyful holiday experience. LOL.
As you can see, my black piping's consistency was a little too runny, and the small black dots on my snowman eyes spread to create some emo snow creatures. This is now getting absurd.
I have to end my holiday cookie drama by writing "Ho Ho" and "Joy" on three of my cookies just to be done.
A cookie decorator, I am not! I thought to myself; I could have bought some fabulous cookies from a local bakery and not had such a frustrating (and expensive) day. Live and learn. Kudos to all of you talented bakers out there. What you do is amazing!!! Respect.
Yes, I will bake cookies again. But if I want elevated cookies decorated to the tee, I shall be contacting one of our talented local resources.
Brookies Cookies did these fabulous cookies that look more like I had envisioned!
As I reflected on my experience, it reminded me a lot of decorating a home. Many of us think we can create the beautiful environment we envision. But along the way, we get frustrated and throw our hands up and just make do.
The moral of my story is that it is okay to not be good at doing something. Especially when we have resources easily on hand to give us the look and feel of the home (or cookie) we imagine. And with a lot less frustration, time, and expense than doing it on our own.
One of the beautiful things about K. Renee is our team of stylists that all have different strengths when it comes to home decor. Some of us are great at creating the base layers (the cookie dough), while others are so gifted at the icing (the fine details and design). Each client we work with gets a team, working together, to make the process smooth, comfortable, and delicious.
Happy Holidays to you and yours,