In the Cookie Jar

Cookie Weekend

Last weekend my sister’s kids were here to bake and decorate some cookies.  The fun part was the actual decorating, which we did Sunday morning. 

We made two kinds of cookies – a basic short dough for some, and a gingerbread dough for others. 

I don’t have a lot to say – I’ll just let the pictures tell the story…

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So, um…can you guess which of my children decorated which reindeer?

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This was the only batch I did by baking the sugar onto the cookies.  After that adventure, I just baked off the rest of the cookies and we used royal icing in a variety of colors to decorate the cookies.  Colored sugars were available, too, but for the most part everyone stuck with the icing.

You can make royal icing with egg whites and confectioner’s sugar, but if you’re doing huge batches and have no use for all the yolks – or you just don’t feel like cracking eggs – buy a cannister of meringue powder and you’re all set.

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All you need is the meringue powder, confectioner’s sugar, and water.  And a stand mixer helps, too.

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There you go – just add water, combine slowly first so the sugar doesn’t fly all over you and your kitchen.  Once everything’s been mixed together, scrape the sides of the mixing bowl down, and then let ‘er rip.  If the mixture is too thin, add some more sugar.  If it’s too thick, add more water.  It’s hard to explain how thick or thin you’ll want it – you just have to try piping some and see how it looks.  If you’re doing something very detailed and you want the icing to hold its shape, then you want it on the thicker side, but still thin enough so you won’t immediately develop advanced carpal tunnel syndrome the first time you decorate a cookie.  Sometimes, though, you’re filling in a large outlined space, and you just want the icing to spread out and cover the cookie.  Then, obviously, you want it thinner.

For Sunday’s purposes, I really didn’t mess around with the icing much.  It was thinner than I would have used, but it was just fine for my 4 young artists.

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Here, Alex holds up one of his first gingerbread men, while Julia…mines for gold, apparently.  I hadn’t noticed that when I was taking the picture.  My nephew, Calvin, is focused on his own work.  And my niece, Natalie, seems to be staring at her little girl cousin…just…staring.

Each kid filled up a cookie sheet with their creations.

I think Julia had the most cookies…but that was because of her minimalist approach….

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Later on, when she was eating them, she’d bite off the parts that had the icing and hand me the naked remains…"I don’t want this." 

Next up, Alex.  He had a blast.  I think he was the last cousin to put down the piping bag.

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If Alex wasn’t the last kid decorating, then it was Natalie.  She spent a lot of time creating each cookie…

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See the two cats in the middle?  Those are their family’s cats.  The black one is Ozzie.  He’s your basic gorgeous all-black cat.  The other one is Tulip.  She’s a petite calico, about 2 years old, and oh, yeah, she’s kind of ditzy. 

Anyway – last up, Calvin.

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He kept saying decorating was a lot of fun, and that made me happy because he’s the oldest and I don’t want him to feel like he’s stuck doing little kid stuff with his little kid cousins.  Actually, to be fair, he’s really great with them. 

And who wouldn’t have fun painting with frosting? 

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