Santa Sugar Cookies: Decorating Start to Finish!

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Hi and Happy New Year! I hope everyone enjoyed 2013 and that 2014 is full of love, good health, joy and laughter.

For my first post of the year I’m going to show the steps I took to decorate my Christmas Santa Cookies. Yes, I know Christmas is over, but I never seem to have enough time to post my cookies before, so I decided I will be posting them in January and you can use them for next year…oops I mean this year! Many times people think I’m crazy for spending the time decorating cookies when they are just going to be eaten. I have to say these were the most involved ones I have ever decorated. With several layers to show detail, these cookies took on a LONG time. But, it was also lots of fun and a technique I have been wanting to try for a long time.

When you begin any layering design, take some time to plan out the order you’re icing your cookies. This will help in making the icing colors and consistencies you need. I didn’t make all of my icings ahead of time, which I would do next time, because I think it would have been more efficient. You will also be mixing different consistencies of the same color. I actually made three different consistencies of the white icing…one for outlining, one for flooding, and one for the piping on the hat.

For some reason I didn’t remember to take a photo of the actual first step…sorry and duh! This step was to mark where I wanted the Santa face by using an orange decorating marker to draw a circle on the cookie. I traced the circle using a round cookie cutter. I just started drawing details on my cookies and it truly helps so much!

BTW, I used royal icing to decorate with.

Step 1: Outline the face and the beard. (You can barely see the circle I outlined in orange, but it will show up better in some of the following photos.)

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Step 2: Fill in the beard with your flood icing. I was doing enough cookies that by the time I was done with one step, the icing was dry enough for the next step. (HEY, see the orange!!!)

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Step 3: Fill in the face with flesh colored flood icing. (Here’s a great blog and a link showing how to make different flesh tones… http://www.sweetsugarbelle.com/2011/04/skin-or-flesh-tone-icing/ )

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Step 4: After the beard and face icing has hardened slightly*, draw mustache with the flood white icing. I made my white flood icing a little thick, because I knew I wanted to use it for the mustache.
*(I did this after the icing had a pretty good crust on it, but it was not hardened all of the way through. I also took more time in between steps because I was coloring the icing as I went.)

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Step 5: Now notice, I didn’t do an outline on the hat. I was getting a bit lazy so I made a thick version of flood icing. If I would have made all of the icing ahead I would have made the outline red icing, because I had to make it anyway for the holly. (This is why I suggested you take the time to think it out first.) I didn’t have too much trouble with the icing flowing off the cookie, but making the icing the perfect consistency can be a little tricky. (I also used this consistency for the mustache and nose.)

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Step 6: Add the nose with the flesh colored flood icing. (I know the mustache shouldn’t show above the nose, but it kept running off when I tried to put it on the top edge…plus no one noticed it!!!)

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Step 7: Add the fur to the Santa had by using firmer icing with a star tip. (I actually made mine too thick and my hand hurt by the time I finished this step…LOL!!!)

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Step 8: Add green holly. I used the small leaf tip for this. (You can see my holly wasn’t perfect, oops…OH, but notice the nose is in the correct place!)

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Step 9: Add some swirls to the beard with the white outline icing. Look my holly is better on this one. (Why did I take a picture for Step 8 that wasn’t…I don’t know!!!)

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Step 10: Add the red berries with the outline red icing. (Yes, the icing that I was too lazy too make for Step 6…duh again!!!)

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Step 11: The final step…drum roll…add the eyes and eyebrow with a black decorating marker…not a sharpie as my husband suggested.

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I told you it took a LONG time! But in the end I think it was worth it! I hope you enjoy decorating/eating some of your own cookies and that this post helps a little!

Before I forget, I want to point out that these cookies were inspired by Chapix Cookies, which creates some of the most beautiful cookies I have ever seen. Although my cookies are not neatly as perfect as theirs, I was pretty happy with them.

James’ Favorite Lemon Raspberry Crunch Thumbprints

lemon raspberry crunch cookies
My son requested these cookies for Christmas. I created this recipe when he was in 4th grade. Now he’s getting ready to graduate from college. Where did the time go…I’m serious, WHERE? Anyway, we just finished a batch and I thought I’d post our results. James is a great baking partner, he jumps right in and does whatever’s needed. We had a great day baking cookies. It’s one of the best parts of getting ready for Christmas. I hope you enjoy this recipe and that it becomes one of your favorites as well!

LEMON RASPBERRY CRUNCH THUMBPRINTS

1 (18.25) package yellow cake mix
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 Tbsp. lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 egg
3 cups crisp rice cereal
6 Tbsp. seedless red raspberry jam

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat oven to 375°

2. Combine cake mix, oil, lemon zest*, lemon juice, and egg. Beat on low speed until well blended. Add cereal and mix until combined.

3. Drop by heaping teaspoons 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Using a round teaspoon, dip back of teaspoon in flour; press in middle of dropped cookies to make an indentation. Fill with approximately 1/2 teaspoon of jam in center of each cookie.

4. Bake 9-11 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool cookies 1 minute on baking sheet then remove to wire rack and cool completely.

Makes 3 dozen cookies

*Remember to zest the lemon before you squeeze it for its juice. This is an important step that really boosts the lemon flavor.

Oreos with Chocolate Transfer Sheets

Chocolate Covered Oreos  with Chocolate Transfer Sheet (recipes2luv.com)

Well I like to experiment, so this year for Thanksgiving I decided to try using chocolate transfer sheets. Of course chocolate dipped Oreos with some drizzles look great, but I like a challenge. I’ve included a few tips that I learned along the way that will help make things a little easier.

What you’ll need:
Melted Milk Chocolate
Oreo Cookies
Chocolate Oreo Mold (I bought mine from fancyflours.com*)
Chocolate Transfer Sheets (I bought mine from fancyflours.com*)
Circle Paper Punch (slightly smaller than mold**)

Chocolate Covered Oreos  with Chocolate Transfer Sheet (recipes2luv.com)
Take the chocolate transfer sheet and place a piece of thin paper on the dull side (this is the chocolate side). Place in paper punch and punch out circle. I found the extra sheet of paper helps keep chocolate from clogging up the paper punch.

Chocolate Covered Oreos  with Chocolate Transfer Sheet (recipes2luv.com)
Place punched chocolate transfer circle, shiny side down, in mold. Yea, I did this incorrectly a couple of times and ended up with the chocolate transfer on the mold. No worries, you don’t have to clean it out to reuse, just put transfer circle in correctly next time and the next batch will come out perfect.

Chocolate Covered Oreos  with Chocolate Transfer Sheet (recipes2luv.com)
Spoon melted chocolate into mold until it’s about 1/3 full. Tap mold on counter to remove any air bubbles that may have formed. (I know, the photo’s a little blurry…oops!)

Chocolate Covered Oreos  with Chocolate Transfer Sheet (recipes2luv.com)
Press Oreo into mold until it’s just below the top level of the mold.

Chocolate Covered Oreos  with Chocolate Transfer Sheet (recipes2luv.com)

Spoon more chocolate over Oreo until covered. Tap again on counter to remove air bubbles and to make sure the chocolate has gotten down the sides of the cookie – this will also smooth out the chocolate. Place in refrigerator for 10 minutes or until chocolate is firm. Turn over mold and pop out cookies. They look great, but remember you still have to remove the clear plastic from the chocolate transfer.

Using a sharp knife, carefully lift up edge of plastic and peel off.

Chocolate Covered Oreos  with Chocolate Transfer Sheet (recipes2luv.com)
Not bad for a first try…not great, but not bad! Good luck and have fun!

*I do not receive any compensation from this site…I’m just giving the facts.

**I originally started out with a 2″ hole punch. This was slightly large for my mold…you can see my edges on top of cookies are rounded and not sharp. Now I have a 1.73″ punch. I’ll try this again at Christmas and let you know how it works out.

Quick update. The smaller punch worked great. See my results…

Oreo with chocolate stencil

Oreos with chocolate stencils

Starbuck’s Cranberry Bliss Copycat Recipe

Starbuck's Cranberry Bliss Copycat Recipe

I know it’s not Christmas, but I’ve been hungry for Starbuck’s Cranberry Bliss bars, so I decided to make some now. I found this recipe last year and it’s awesome. Honestly, be sure to remember these for your Christmas cookie tray…and I’ll enjoy some now!
Starbuck's Cranberry Bliss Copycat Recipe

Cranberry Bliss Bar Clone Recipe
(From Todd Wilbur, Top Secret Recipes)

Ingredients
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
2 Tbsp. minced crystallized ginger
3/4 cup chopped sweetened dried cranberries
4 oz. white chocolate, cut into chunks
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Frosting
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped sweetened dried cranberries
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 tsp. lemon juice

Drizzled Icing
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vegetable shortening

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make cake by beating the butter and brown sugar together with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the eggs, ginger, vanilla, and salt and beat well. Gradually mix in the flour and baking powder until smooth. Mix the chopped dried cranberries and white chocolate chunks into the batter by hand. Pour the batter into a buttered 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Use a spatula to spread the batter evenly across the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is lightly browned on top. Allow the cake to cool.

Make the frosting by combining the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until smooth. When the cake has cooled, use a spatula to spread the frosting over the top of the cake.

Sprinkle 1/4 cup of chopped dried cranberries over the frosting on the cake.

Make the drizzled icing by whisking together powdered sugar, milk, and shortening. Drizzle this icing over the cranberries in a sweeping motion with a squirt bottle or fill a small plastic storage bag with the icing and cut off the tip of one corner.

Cover the cake and let it chill out in the fridge for a couple hours, then slice the cake lengthwise (the long way) through the middle. Slice the cake across the width three times, making a total of eight rectangular slices. Slice each of those rectangles diagonally creating 16 triangular slices.

Halloween Ghost Cookies with Buttercream Fondant

As I stated in a previous post, I saw these cute ghosts on Pinterest and I decided to give them my own twist and make them this year instead of my usual bats. It’s always fun to shake thing up a bit.

I’m taking them to my son this weekend at college. I think he’ll get a kick out of them since he’s used to getting the bat cookies.

Here’s how they turned out.

Halloween Ghost Cookies with Buttercream Fondant

First thing I did was ask my husband to make me a cookie cutter from a pattern I had made on the computer. He did a perfect job, so now we just needed to get baking. (I used to do 3-4 different cookie designs, but now I just do one to make it easier.)

Here are my baked cookies with rolled fondant for the base. My favorite purchased fondant is Fondarific Buttercream Wedding White. It’s very easy to work with, colors very easily and is the best tasting fondant I’ve ever had.

Halloween Ghost Cookies with Buttercream Fondant

I used the pasta roller attachment for the Kitchen Aid to roll out the fondant. I sprinkle a little confectioner’s sugar on the attachment to keep the fondant from sticking, then I use one of those flexible cutting boards, spray it with Pam and sprinkle it with a little confectioner’s sugar as well. This is so the fondant won’t stick

Once fed through the pasta attachment, I catch it with the prepared flexible cutting board. I cut out shapes using the same cookie cutter I used when making the cookies.

To apply, simply brush the top of the cookie with water and place the cut fondant on top. Smooth with hands to make sure all fondant is secured and is without bubbles…that’s it. Just keep repeating till all of the cookies are covered.

I wait until the next day to decorate. It gives the fondant a little time to set up, plus it’s a lot of work to do in one day1

Here’s the step-by-step process in photos…

Halloween Ghost Cookies with Buttercream Fondant

I like to put a background color behind the eyes just to make it a little more creepier.

Halloween Ghost Cookies with Buttercream Fondant

Halloween Ghost Cookies with Buttercream Fondant

Tap a round brush with some orange petal dust on for the cheeks. Cute!

Halloween Ghost Cookies with Buttercream Fondant

Add a smile and you’re done!

Yummy Pumpkin Cookies

Yummy Pumpkin Cookies

I made these tasty treats the other day and wanted to share them since they were such a big hit. They are quick and easy to make and more fun to eat. The only tip I have, which makes a big difference, is use parchment paper! Without it, your cookies will spread and be very thin. (You can also grease and flour the cookie sheets, but that’s a lot more work and clean up!)

I like to ice these cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting, but you really don’t need to because they are super moist. I have to admit; several of them usually disappear before they are frosted.

Try these for a great fall cookie and let me know what you think!

PUMPKIN COOKIES
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/3 cups quick cooking oats
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup Libby’s® 100% pure puree pumpkin
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
3/4 cup raisins (1-1/2 cups if not using nuts)

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or grease and flour. In medium bowl, combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; set aside. Beat butter with brown and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg and vanilla extract; mix well.
Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in nuts and raisins.

Drop 1/4 cup of dough on prepared baking sheets. Bake 14-16 minutes or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. (Can test with a toothpick just like cake) Cool on baking sheet 2 minutes; remove to wire rack to cool completely.

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
5 Tbsp. butter, softened
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. powdered sugar, sifted

Beat cream cheese with butter and 2 tsp. vanilla until combined. Gradually add 2 c. powdered sugar that has been sifted after measuring. Continue to add more sifted powdered sugar until you reach a consistency and sweetness that fits your taste.