Tuesday, December 12, 2006

SHF #28: Sugar Art - Painted Sugar Cookies

I have a few friends I thought deserved some cookies about now, but until recently, I hadn't decided what kind to make. Then I saw that this month's Sugar High Friday theme is "Sugar Art," and I took it as a sign that it was time to try Nancy Baggett's edible tempera paint recipe and make some personalized cookies.

I didn't want to post the personalized cookies for SHF, so I made some more generic ones, too. Here are some Chanukah cookies:

And some non-denominational cookies:

The verdict: The cookies are tasty and the art project was fun, but it would have been more fun with a kid, and I'll probably wait until I have one before doing it again. (The cookies look like a kid made them, anyway.)

Here's the recipe (adapted from Nancy Baggett's All-American Cookie Book):
All-Purpose Sugar Cookie Dough
3 cups all-purpose white flour, plus more if needed.
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly softened
Scant 1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon milk
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon lemon or almond extract
Edible tempera paints

In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, milk, vanilla, and lemon or almond extract if using, until very well blended and smooth. Gradually beat or stir in the flour mixture to form a smooth, slightly stiff dough. If it seems soft, stir in up to 3 tablespoons more flour. Let the dough stand for about 5 minutes, until firmed up slightly.

Devide the dough in half. Place each portion between large sheets of was paper. Roll out the portions a scant 1/4 inch thick; check the underside of the dough and smooth out any wrinkles that form. Stack the rolled portions (paper still attached) on a baking sheet. Refrigirate the dough for 45 minutes, or until chilled and firm, or freeze for 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease several cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.

Working with one portion at a time and leaving the remaining dough chilled, gently peel away, then pat one sheet of wax paper back into place. Flip the dough over, then peel off and discard the second sheet. Cut out the cookies. (If at any point the dough softens too much to handle easily, transfer the paper and cookies to a baking sheet and refrigirate or freeze until firm again.) Using a spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Reroll any dough scraps. Continue cutting out the cookies until all the dough is used.

Edible Tempera Paints
(These paints are made with raw eggs, but they are applied before the cookies are baked, so they're perfectly safe to eat.)
2 large eggs (divided)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar (divided)
Liquid food coloring

Using a fork and working in a small bowl, beat together 1 egg, 1 egg yolk, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of powdered sugar until the sugar dissolves. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve (a tea strainer is fine) into 3 or 4 custard cups or small bowls. In a separate small bowl, beat together the remaining egg white and the remaining 1/2 tablespoon powdered sugar. Strain this mixture into 1 or 2 custard cups or bowls. Stir in the food coloring to obtain the shades as follows: For blue, red, or purple (blue + red), add the food coloring to the egg white mixture. For all other shades, add the food coloring to the egg yolk mixture.

Using pastry brushes for larger areas and small artists' brushes for fine details, apply the paints to unbaked cookies. Apply a light coat of paint for a "wash" effect; apply a little more heavily for a smoother, more opaque, enamled effect.

Bake cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 8-11 minutes, until lightly colored on top and slightly darker at the edges. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Transfer sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes.

Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks or freeze for up to 2 months.


muse said...

Do you think they can be done parve? Ever try rice milk for milk?

elf said...

I'm sure that they could be made parve. (I was thinking soy milk, but rice milk should work. It's only 1 tablespoon, so it shouldn't matter much.) I really like the butter flavor, but I'll admit to having had parve sugar cookies that weren't half bad.

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