While Thanksgiving may be behind us, the memories of my turkey cookies are still fresh in my mind. I made some decorative turkey cookies for Thanksgiving this year, and for my first go-around on creating and decorating edible turkeys, I did a decent job. Baking and decorating cookies is without a doubt an art form and truly requires a special talent, which I think I have in me, but with [a lot of] practice, I can become a better dough roller, frosting applier and icing piper.
Baking, unlike cooking, is very methodical. A baking soda miscalculation, or a slight flour overdose can really wreak havoc on your recipe. At least with cooking, we can taste our dish along the way and make changes to the recipe as needed. With baking, it is a sort of win-win or a complete loose-loose situation, and since I am not all that methodical and exact, I have treaded lightly when it has come to baking. Trying to overcome misconceptions that I have that bakers would also make good rocket scientists and mathematicians, I spent approximately 8 hours working on my turkey cookies. Fortunately, the time paid off!
I began by making a basic sugar cookie dough and refrigerating the dough to let it set. Once the dough was cooled, I rolled it out on wax paper until the dough was about an 1/8 of an inch thick. I then stamped the dough with my turkey-shaped cookie cutter and placed the cut out dough on an ungreased baking sheet. The cookies baked for about 10 minutes on a 350 degree oven.After the cookies were baked, I let them cool for about an hour on a cooling rack. While the cookies were cooling, I made a royal icing using meringue powder, rather than egg whites, which are traditionally used in royal icing recipes. Meringue powder is a substitute for egg whites and I find it to be a bit more user-friendly than egg whites. Meringue powder is, however, a bit tricky to find, and I have yet to see it for sale outside of specialty or baking supply stores. I bought mine at Sur la Table in Pasadena, but if anyone can recommend a good baking supply store in the Pasadena area…..
Once my royal icing was made, I separated it into two bowls. In one bowl, I left the royal icing white, as-is, and used it for piping the white borders on my turkey cookies. In the second bowl, I added orange food coloring, which I used for the icing on my turkeys. I need a bit of practice using food coloring and I don’t think I added enough orange dye. My cookies, when dry, had a pinkish hue to them, rather than the autumn-orange color I wanted. Once my cookies were dry, I began applying the orange icing to them. Following the advice of one recipe I found, I tried dipping my first cookie face side down into the icing hoping to get an even application of the icing on the cookie. This did not work as the recipe indicated and I was left with icing blobs on the cookie. Perhaps my icing was too thick, but I found that using a small paintbrush and hand painting the icing on the cookies worked the best. This method was ridiculously time consuming, but until I figure out a more efficient method, I think I’ll stick to using the paintbrush.
After applying the orange icing to each cookie, I let the cookies dry for another hour or so. Once dry, I piped the white royal icing around the edges of each cookie, as well as giving each turkey an eye and a little feather detail. Piping, which is about as methodical as baking a wedding cake, was a bit overwhelming for me. Although I only put a little icing in my piping bag, I could not keep the icing from spewing out over the top of the bag like a geyser and it seemed like every line I made on the cookies came out in different widths and lengths. Fortunately, enough cookies were aesthetically presentable, and the rest of the turkey cookies were left for George to gobble up!
Decorating the turkey cookies, while challenging, was so much fun. My plan is to get a head-start on my Christmas cookies, hopefully improving on my dough-rolling and icing-piping techniques!
Until next time…
1 cup of butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
Cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together. Blend in the egg and mix until blended. Add the flour slowly, mixing until combined. Refrigerate the dough, preferably over night, or until cooled and set.
Meringue Powder Royal Icing
1/4 cup of meringue powder
1/2 cup of iced water
1 pound powdered sugar
Mix Meringue powder and iced water until soft peaks form. Add sugar slowly, mixing it until combined. Add food coloring as desired.