Sara was invited to a slumber party the week I was working on a difficult sugar cookie recipe, and I couldn’t help but make the connection: party-hostess gift. When adults go to a party, they take a hostess gift. When 7 year olds are invited to a party, shouldn’t they take a…junior hostess gift? It wasn’t a birthday party, so she’d otherwise be arriving empty-handed (save her sleeping bag, suitcase, and trunk load of toys).
Now my mind was clicking. She couldn’t take wine because it’s simply out of her budget. You thought I was going to say something about her age, didn’t you? Ha! Although I see your point. I could see Sara rolling her eyes at flowers. MOM! Nope. That leaves food, and LOOK! I have every cookie cutter in the world, including the school’s emblem. People love a beautifully iced cookie, so let me share with you some short cuts.
First, roll out your favorite sugar cookie recipe. I’d give you mine, but I can only get it to work about 50% of the time. I only make them when I’m feeling lucky. Just type “sugar cookie” into Epicurious. That site is Lori-proof. Cut your cookies out backwards and bake them backwards. If you have a Silpat baking sheet, don’t worry. They are sold everywhere. You thought I was going to say, bake without it? Ha! I never bake without a Silpat. If you want even baking and even edges and cookies that look like you bought them at a store, go get a Silpat. You won’t be sorry.
Here they are baked. All nice and poofy, yes? How are you going to make poofy edges look perfect? You can’t. So flip them over.
Look at all those clean edges! Just waiting for you to ice! Normally, I’d make icing using powdered sugar and a Wilton product named Colorflow. That’s the ingredient that gives cookies the shiny-like-glass look you see in the bakeries. It ain’t for the impatient, or for those without a standing mixer. It’s perfection…when you can get it right. You make a thicker version and a thinner version of each color. When the icing settles back into the mixture within 10 seconds after trying to drip it, it’s ready. Outline with the thick, flood with the thin. Fun, yes? Not so much.
Knowing it takes forever and makes a mighty mess (I have entire squeeze bottles dedicated to this process), Wilton invented cookie icing. Colorflow in a jar. Just heat it up in the microwave and ice. THIS I had to try. When I heated it per the instructions, it was too wet. I just let it sit on the counter for a minute or two and waited for it to thicken up. I tested it on a paper towel, and I always, ALWAYS make extra cookies for rough draft work.
Flood. Easy. It took no time whatsoever. And this was done without separate bowls and my huge mixer. Bonus.
Here is the finished gift: the word “Friends” and our school leaf. I was pretty pleased. I was on a roll, which was good, because everything I cooked the following week just sucked. I think of my cooking as a batting average. And when I’m down, I get drunk. Wait…sorry. No. I get into the kitchen and start practicing. Jeez, I’ll just admit to anything tonight, won’t I?
Life is all about presentation, so I taped a little yellow doily into a cookie box (don’t laugh…this is why Michael’s has a dollar section…think of it as the PRESENTATION section), and arranged them like so. I didn’t end at the doily (although I considered it just to freak out Lydia, my friend who breaks a sweat at the word doily…that, and when she sees fake geese dressed up in seasonal wear on porches. Indiana is a veritable minefield of sweat baths for her):
Voila! Now I’m done!
Well, almost done. If I cook while the girls are at school, I always keep some dough behind so they can roll, cut, and decorate their own cookies. These squeeze bottles aren’t cheap, so I cringed handing them over, but really, that’s silly, because I bought them to use. They had a ball.
Drawbacks: the bottled icing did not stay shiny. By morning, it had dulled. If you use actual Colorflow, the cookie won’t lose its glass-like veneer. The bottled icing also cracks after drying far easier than actual Colorflow. BUT, it was so fast, and despite people complaining online about the consistency, I had no trouble whatsoever. Just practice with it first, and it can be reheated and cooled over and over. It seemed simple enough. I have no idea how long this stuff will last on a shelf. It’s not marked and I couldn’t find an expiration date online. That being said, if you get cookies from me anytime in the future, you might want to consider how long ago this post was written.
I tried to ask Wilton about the expiration, and I also asked if they wanted to give away any of this neat stuff on my blog, considering it’s a new product. I also suggested they come out with pastel versions for spring. I’ll take their silence to mean they are sending my thoughts all the way to the top. It’s being considered by upper management. I get it. I understand how these things work. Unless their silence is an attempt at being coy, which is a weird brand for a cake decorating company. But hey, I didn’t major in marketing, so what do I know?
I know that Sara was so excited to carry cookies to her friend’s house. I know she felt proud to hand over something delicious and homemade. I know she kicked me out of that house as fast as she could, because she’s all grown up now. Gracious…who sped up the clock you’all? I wish you Godspeed and great cookies, my friends.