Thursday, December 6, 2007
Decorated Christmas Cookies
I wanted to make really cool looking decorated cookies that looked and tasted great. Unfortunately, I'm not all that artistic... that and as far as I can tell it's impossible to make frosting that tastes good and is good for decorations. For the sugar cookies I made for Halloween, and the sugar cookies I made earlier this week, I used buttercream -- never one of my favorites, but I at least have experience piping it and decorating with it (my mom did cakes -- lots, and lots of very cool looking cakes when I was kid.) Her buttercream-decorated creations always looked pretty good though... mine looked a bit gimpy:
Well, I'm sure her stuff looked a little funny when she was first starting too... that's what I keep telling myself anyway. The sugar cookies actually tasted pretty good, but then again, I'm a big fan of sugar cookies. The frosting was too sweet like most buttercreams, and it never actually set-up which meant it got goopy at room temperature, but if you liked buttercream I'm sure it was fine. I actually used a Pastry Queen recipe for the frosting which involved heating egg whites and using granulated sugar, rather than powdered sugar. The cookies were the Dorie Greenspan sugar cookies recipe and they were easy to work with and tasted good to boot.
The gingerbread, on the other hand, was a Baking Bites recipe, the gingerbread recipe she swears by. I thought about using the Pastry Queen recipe, but hers is specifically for tree ornaments and not necessarily for eating (although knowing the Pastry Queen, they probably tasted great.) Part of my problem with gingerbread is I just don't like it all that much. When I have a cookie, I want it to be sweet, and gingerbread men just aren't that sweet. Granted, they're supposed to get a lot of the sweetness from the frosting, but again, I don't like frosting that much.
For the gingerbread though, I tried Royal Icing, which is a more traditional cookie icing and has the advantage of actually setting up which means you can stack the cookies to transport them. The disadvantages are flavor and ease of use. I made two versions to use on the cookies and I didn't really like either one. One version used lemon juice with powdered sugar and egg whites, while the other used powdered sugar, vanilla, milk and powdered egg whites. Both of them tasted like powdered sugar -- not one of my favorite flavors.
Besides tasting a bit off to me, the frosting was also a bit of a pain in the ass since it was runny. I went ahead and put it in a piping bag with a round tip, but it dripped all over the place if you weren't careful. I suppose I could have thickened it a bit more by adding more powdered sugar... but that would have made the flavor even worse. Again, if you like gingerbread and you like cookie icing, I'm sure these would taste great to you -- they're just not my favorite things.
Since there are several recipes involved, and I wasn't a huge fan of any of them (plus I have other posts to do tonight) I'm not going to post any recipes right now. If anybody wants the recipes I used --feel free to ask and I will post them ASAP. :)