Saturday, May 1, 2010

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Starfish

Every month the teacher appreciation committee puts on a special lunch to honor the teachers and staff at our school.  This is not just any ordinary potluck lunch.  This group of committee volunteers is extremely creative.  They put together a theme, plan a menu, send out themed invitations and decorate the teachers lounge from floor to ceiling.  Each month, parents from different grades are asked to provide the food.  Since I have four kids at the school in four different grades, the volunteer opportunities for me are simply endless!

This month the committee planned a beach theme.  I volunteered for my specialty - cut out cookies.  These cookies are less about being the perfect baker and more about learning a few great tricks.

My first dilemma was the cookie cutter.  Despite my rather large box of cookie cutter shapes, I couldn't seem to find anything that was beach related.  Thankfully, my southern friend (who owns silver) graciously offered to lend me her perfect cookie cutter set.



With these adorable cookie cutters in hand, I went to get my perfect dough - from the freezer!



Yes, I realize they say Christmas Shapes!  You can only buy this dough around Christmas time, so I stock up.  The dough comes in sheets and they are pre-scored for Christmas cookie cut-outs.





I get around the Christmas theme by flipping the dough over and cutting out my own shapes on the back side.  Now, the purist in me twinges a bit by using this pre-made dough, but the perfectionist in me knows that these cookies will come out perfectly every time.  This dough, which is more shortcake-like than sugar cookie-like holds its shape precisely when baking.  Even the scraps can be re-rolled with equally good results.

Normally, I would have used Royal Icing for cut-out cookies, but I'm not particularly fond of the rather tasteless, super-hard results.  I searched the Wilton website and ran across this recipe for Poured Cookie Icing.  Their promise:  "Cookies look irresistible with a smooth coat of our Poured Cookie Icing.  It dries to a shiny, hard finish and is also great for outline and fill-in decorations."  I tried it.


This simple recipe called for only confectioners' sugar, milk and light corn syrup.  I added a drop of almond extract for extra flavor, and, of course, Wilton food colors.  I thought the results were great.  Initially, I planned to outline the cookies in white, but after baking, I thought that these super-detailed cookie cutters held their own.  I did have to let the icing dry for a good two hours before stacking them, but in the end, there were no cookies left!




Wilton's Poured Cookie Icing

Ingredients:

1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons milk
2 teaspoons light corn syrup

Instructions:

Place sugar and milk in bowl.  Stir until mixed thoroughly.  Add corn syrup and mix well.  For filling in areas, used thinned icing (add small amounts or light corn syrup until desired consistency is reached).






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