HAPPY THANKSGIVING! If you’ve got any energy or time left before the big turkey day, these cookies are a fun and yummy way to assign seating at your table and give everyone a treat as well. But if you’re already overwhelmed by too little time and too much shopping, chopping and baking, take a deep breath and tuck this idea away for another holiday or any other event.
I contacted cake decorator Elizabeth Hodes for this recipe, after eating beautifully decorated cookies she made last year for our mutual friend Kathy’s baby shower. She also made Kathy’s wedding cake several years ago and it was truly a work of art. Take a look at the gorgeous water lilies and cat o’nine tails she created out of sugar for Kathy’s cake – they look so real, but they’re all edible!
(Paul Papier photo)
This talented young woman is owner of Elizabeth Hodes Custom Cakes and Sugar Art in New York City and has been featured in national magazines and on cake competitions on The Food Network. Click on her website to see more of her exquisite work. Elizabeth, who also holds a degree in classics from Princeton University and one in piano performance from the Manhattan School of Music, told me she got the recipe for these cookies from Toba Garrett’s book, Creative Cookies.
I colored some of the cookies a simple yellow, orange or red. Others I made multi-colored using all three colors on one cookie. To get the multi-colored look on the turkeys, I first piped an outline with frosting in one color and let that dry. Then, using a demitasse spoon and/or a tiny knife, I added separate blobs of yellow, orange and red frosting, then carefully smoothed it through the body of the turkeys, swirling the colors around to blend. Let that dry, then pipe the name on top.
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon baking powder
a teaspoon vanilla
3 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
Preheat oven to 350*. in a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy, scraping down bowl as needed. Beat in egg and mix until well combined. Sift together baking powder and flour. Add flour mixture to butter & sugar 1 cup at a time and mix thoroughly; mix last cup in by hand. Divide dough into two balls and wrap one ball in plastic wrap until ready to use. On a floured surface, roll out the other ball until about 1/8" (0.3 cm) thick. Cut cookies out with cookie cutter and transfer onto ungreased cookie sheet or a parchment lined half sheet pan. Bake 6 to 8 minutes or until edges of cookies begin to brown lightly. Let cookies rest on cookie sheet until ready to use.
My hints on these are to try not to overwork the dough. If the dough becomes too soft, stick it in the freezer for a minute. I've also tried rolling the dough out and putting the entire sheet of dough directly on a rim-less cookie sheet and then cutting the shapes directly on the pan and removing the excess (this is a good method if the shapes are warping when you transfer them to the sheet).
1 lb confectioners' sugar
3/8 cup milk
3/8 cup light corn syrup
flavor options: 1 tsp concentrated extract, 1 tablespoon alcohol or liqueur or 2 to 3 drops concentrated candy oil.
In a mixing bowl thoroughly mix sugar and milk first. The icing should be very soft and should have a heavy cream consistency. Add corn syrup and mix until just combined. Divide the icing into several bowls and flavor and color each bowl as desired. Cover bowls with plastic wrap when not in use.
Glace outline icing:
1/2 cup glace icing
6 to 8 heaping tablespoons confectioners' sugar.
Mix until well combined. The icing should be very stiff; if it is not stiff enough, add more confectioners' sugar until you have a medium consistency.
To decorate cookies:
Outline cookies with glace outing icing using a piping bag and a size 1 tip (aka a pretty small tip). Allow to dry slightly. Make a parchment or wax paper cone and fill with selected glace icing. Cut off tip of cone and pipe/flow glace icing into the outline on cookie. Allow to dry (takes a few hours; will take longer in humid climates).