November 2, 2010 § 2 Comments
My sugar cookie experimentation continues–eventually I will make some cookies that turn out exactly as I envisioned them.
I live in hope.
But in the meantime…
I wanted to make cookies inspired by Day of the Dead art–brightly colored and a little macabre? I am all over it. With that in mind, these cookies were meant to be a lot more colorful, but I got annoyed and stopped after two colors. I also left some cookies plain–not Day of the Dead, but a very classic Halloween look. Here’s how I made them:
I started with sugar cookies (from a mix. Because I continue to be lazy). While they were cooling I made white chocolate skulls using a chocolate mold that I got at my local craft store–
I just used the front half of the skull mold, so that it would be flat on the cookie. To fill the mold I chopped up about a third of a block of almond bark, put it in a disposable plastic decorating bag (you could also use a plastic zip-lock bag–just make sure that it’s a sturdy one, and not a flimsy sandwich bag. Flimsy sandwich bags have been known to burst at the seams at inopportune moments, Go for the freezer bags instead), twisted the top closed, and popped it in the microwave for thirty seconds–
–then I took the bag out, kneaded it a bit, and put it in for another thirty seconds. When it was thoroughly melted I snipped the tip off of the bag and used it to fill the mold. Don’t be too hasty! you don’t want to overfill the mold. Fill it most of the way, then tap the mold gently on the table to get rid of air pockets and settle the chocolate. If your mold is still not quite full then add a little more chocolate and tap it again. Then just pop the filled mold into the refrigerator for about fifteen minutes, and voila!
My mold could only make four skulls at a time, though, so in between batches I worked on the cookies. I used i am baker’s special version of royal icing again, and this time I was much more successful! My icing actually hardened enough that I could handle the cookies easily, hurray! First I used a very thick version of the icing to outline my cookies–
Then, while the outlines were drying, I started adding my white chocolate skulls to the center of each cookie, sticking them in place with a little squiggle of icing for cement–
Then I left them to dry a little longer, to make sure that the outlining would harden–
Then I made another batch of icing that was a little thinner (but not as thin as the icing that I used on the stained glass cookies, eish) and used it to flood my cookies–I used a toothpick to spread the icing right up to the skull and out to the outlined edge–
Then I left them to dry overnight, and ended up letting them dry for a couple of days. I decided to experiment, and instead of using more icing to decorate I wanted to use candy coating, which you can find in the baking and candy aisles of your local craft store. It comes in several colors, and I thought it would be easier than making and tinting several batches of icing. This was sort of true, but it came at a price–I melted the candy coating using the same method that I used for the almond bark, except that this time I put a coupler inside the bag before microwaving so that I could attach a decorating tip when I took it out (it would, of course, be a terrible idea to put a metal decorating tip into your microwave). This worked just fine….but the bag of melted candy coating was a little too warm to hold comfortably for piping, and the melted chocolate was runnier and harder to control than royal icing, and I wasn’t satisfied with the designs that I was free-handing….
So, a good idea that didn’t give me the results I wanted. Would I decorate with candy coating again? Yeees, maybe, for something that I didn’t mind making a little sloppy. Will I ever use it again when I have a very specific vision that calls for more precise piping? No. Bad idea. That way lies screaming, and tears, and the angry eating of cookies in order to punish the cookies for not being pretty enough.
October 30, 2010 § Leave a comment
I love Halloween–I love candy! and costumes! and pumpkins! and weird folklore and traditions! It is a match made in holiday heaven.
Last year I helped my friend Angela with her Halloween Murder Mystery party, and it was so much fun that we decided to throw another Halloween party this year.
Because we are grown-ups, and we need all of the excuses to wear costumes that we can get.
For our theme I chose one of my favorite Halloween movies, Arsenic & Old Lace
The party was a candy potluck–guests brought a bag of their favorite candy to add to the table, and there were treat bags to be filled and taken home–but there were a few more treats for the lace-draped buffet table as well…
Green mad scientist punch, sparkling grape juice, pumpkin soup….
Sugar cookies, s’mores on sticks, mummified baby fingers (okay, okay, they were just pigs in a blanket, and you can’t even see them because I forgot to take the towel off of the basket)
Poisoned apple with caramel sauce and toppings–marshmallows, toffee bits, and chopped almonds
Gingerbread cupcakes with marshmallow filling, served with whipped cream
And, not quite in theme, an experiment in cookies honoring Día de los Muertos:
What will you be for Halloween? I was Salome, and St. John the Baptist was my date for the evening: