We recently celebrated my younger sister’s new baby with a ‘Mommy to Bee’ themed shower. I was in charge of desserts and made up a sugar cookie (very similar to T’s sunflowers) that I thought would be a nice twist on the everything-yellow-and-bumblebee (which was adorable, by the way!!).
I chose a variety of blues and pinks (with yellow mixed in for fun) to make these fairly gender neutral, though she’s expecting a boy!! So I ended up making more blue than the rest. I really, really dig a giant center on flower cookies (someone recently pointed out that this is how Starbucks makes their flower sugar cookies and it might even be a subconscious preference based on my frequent trips there – ha).
I tried out black and yellow nonpareils for the center (sprinkles that are completely round – I think that those add a little something special) and ended up preferring the yellow for the shower, but the black for photos. Will share those soon. They are so unique.
My goal was not perfection, just cute. I’m still learning the art of royal icing and I have a ways to go, but I found this technique (giant center, one color flower petals) to be fairly forgiving.
My friend, Stephanie, and I put together a nice little royal icing tutorial for my FAVORITE sunflower cookies back in June – she’s quite good, but they were amongst the lost photos during my recent photo card catastrophe…
If you are looking for an easy way to make the above, copy the royal icing steps for this cookie and use a basic off-the-shelf brown chocolate icing for the center + brown sprinkles. I used this cookie cutter to create a sunflower and this set for these flower cookies that I’m sharing today.
I took some shots of Liv and I baking these guys to help make up for the adorable imagery now gone. (PS these are all iPhone photos so I don’t know that they’re the best… but I think that they illustrate the steps well!)
I think that the first step to an awesome royal icing sugar cookie is a recipe that will hold up well in the oven. I’ve been through SO many I’ve lost track – it’s all about finding that cookie recipe where the cut-out shapes don’t bleed/spread out and become blobs in the oven (I’m talking hard lines and pointy edges stay intact for, say, a Christmas tree or simple square), or a sturdy enough recipe that rolls out well with a rolling pin without falling apart, but still tastes sugary and light. I can’t say that I’ve found the answer, but the one I’m about to share with you is the best I’ve discovered so far! I would say about 90% of my cookies came out of the oven as hoped, and the dough – while troublesome at times – was pretty easy to work with.
Cookie Cutter Sugar Cookie Recipe
Borrowed and just slightly modified from Bridget over at Bake at 350
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I’ve stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold & cut into chunks
1 T pure vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix together flour and baking powder. With a mixer, beat the butter slightly. Add egg and vanilla and continue to mix. Slowly add sugar and butter until these ingredients blend to make a nicely creamed dough foundation (careful not to over mix).
Slowly add flour mixture (about a half cup at a time) with mixer setting on low until ‘chunks’ of dough breakaway from the side of the bowl and dough becomes clumpy.
Divide dough into two segments and create a little ball out of each. I love to work on a well floured surface (but note that the crazy amount of table flour will slowly blend into the dough ball as you go, making the dough tougher to work with).
A couple of tricks worth mentioning:
* No need to pre-beat egg before adding to mixer, overly beaten eggs add to a cookie’s toughness (so I’ve read)
* I prefer butter somewhere between cold and room temperature, I’ve also read that cold cold is not necessary
* I flour everything that I’m working with – rolling pin, cookie cutter, Liv, everything
* No need to refrigerate these dough balls before rolling out (Bridget’s recommendation)
* She does recommend putting cookie cutouts in the freezer for five minutes before baking though to help them hold their shape in the oven
* Bake on parchment paper (I always, always – it’s the best) on top of your cookie sheets
I found that this dough allows for one great rollout and maybe a second. Don’t count on multiple, so work efficiently by using up as much of that dough space with your cookie cutter (butt cutouts right up against each other as you cut out of the dough) before re-balling scraps and starting again. Here’s the flower cookie cutter set that I used for this batch.
Preferred thickness is at least 1/4″ or more. The thicker the better!
The above recipe makes about 18 large cookies (my cookies were about 4-5″ in length).
As mentioned above, I put these guys into the freezer for five minutes and then into the oven at 350 for 10-12 minutes (watch carefully). Allow to cool completely – I cooled mine partially on cookie sheets and then on a rack) before getting ready to ice. And if you make a second batch, be sure that cookie sheet is completely cool, too.
We decorated Liv’s mini flower cookies while we patiently waited…
Now on to the icing!! I’ll be back tomorrow to walk through the piping, flooding and serious sprinkling process. There were so many photos I had to break this into two parts to browsers loading – but I hope you’ll come back and join the fun!
Spoiler alert: the little sugar bees are from a craft store like Michaels and not handmade :), cute though – right?
I love me some desserts, especially now with this serious pregnant sweet tooth going (I just want chocolate – a big bar of milk chocolate – at about 3pm every day) – so here’s a link to more desserts featured here on the site :). I wish it was this that I was craving right now because really that wouldn’t be so bad…