Monday, October 28, 2013

Alphabet Cookies with Decorator’s Frosting

You may not use them often, but if you enjoy baking cookies, you’ll never go wrong with a set of alphabet cut-outs. (Actually, I did once go wrong, presenting a 90-year-old with a Cookie-Gram that read: “HAPPY BIRTDAY.”) Just be sure you remember to cut every necessary letter from your ball of cookie dough!

Today’s post features a very good, if slightly fiddly, recipe for a basic rolled dough that works well in making Alphabet Cookies and other cut cookies of various shapes.
The dough is soft, so it’s essential that it be chilled after you’ve cut a few cookies. I find that working with just a few alphabet shapes at a time and chilling the dough periodically works very well, rather than trying to print out the letters of a very long word all at once. 

Today’s post also features a very good recipe for a Decorator’s Frosting that very nicely hardens to a sheen, allowing you to stack and pack the finished cookies. I’ve used a Halloween theme because that much-anticipated day is approaching in North America. I’ve never been much of a cookie decorator, but I’ve done my best to give these cookies a touch of Kid Appeal. 

With Halloween on its way, I’ll have a couple of simple-to-make confections over the next couple of days … Ron can hardly wait!

Alphabet Cookies:

1-½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
⅛ tsp. salt
½ c. butter or margarine, softened
¾ c. granulated sugar
1 egg
1-½ tsp. vanilla extract, preferably white

Add flour, baking powder, and salt to small bowl, mixing well. Set aside. Using an electric mixer at medium-high speed, combine butter and sugar until no grainy feeling remains when you rub a small amount between thumb and forefinger. Add egg and vanilla, continuing to beat until light and fluffy. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture until thoroughly combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

Remove dough from bowl, dividing into two portions. Pat into a circle about ½-in. thick, separately wrapping each portion in waxed paper or cello wrap. Refrigerate both portions of wrapped dough at least 1 hr. 

Have required alphabet cookie-cutters on hand to speed cutting process of chosen message. Transfer one portion of chilled, flattened dough to well-floured work surface or pastry sheet. Using floured rolling pin, work in a circle from centre of dough to outer edges until dough is about ⅛-in. thick (see Note). If rolled dough becomes too warm, refrigerate before cutting cookie letters or shapes, alternating dough portions to ensure one is always chilled). 

Preheat oven to 350 deg. F. Cut alphabet letters from rolled dough, carefully transferring to parchment-lined baking sheet with thin, broad metal lifter. Refrigerate cookies at least 10 min. before baking. Bake 10 min., just until edges of cookies begin turning pale brown. Dough yields about 2 doz. cookies approximately 1-½ in. high.

Note: Because dough is thinly rolled, cookies will be delicate and brittle, but will soften when frosted.

Combine all ingredients, adding flour mixture just at the end.

Flatten dough with palm of hand. Wrap and refrigerate.

Roll well-chilled dough to ⅛-in. thickness

Unbaked alphabet letters. 

Baked alphabet letters. My oven has a hot spots - nothing
liberal application of Decorator
’s Frosting can’t hide!

Decorator’s Frosting:

3 c. sifted icing sugar (“powdered” or “confectioners” sugar)
1-½ tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1-½ tsp. light corn syrup
Water, as needed
Gel food coloring/s, if desired
Decorative candy sprinkles, as needed
Gel food writers, if desired

Spoon sifted frosting sugar into medium bowl. Combine lemon juice and corn syrup in a small bowl, stirring in. Add enough water, teaspoonful by teaspoonful, to produce a firm but shiny frosting. Divide frosting into three or four portions, tinting with food gel colors. Cover and set aside.

Working with one color at a time, spoon frosting onto cookie, spreading carefully with a knife and randomizing colors among letters that spell words. Set on rack to dry, with waxed paper underneath to catch any drips. Immediately apply candy sprinkles before frosting hardens. 

Refrigerate cookies until frosting has fully hardened, at least 1 hr. Store between sheets of waxed or parchment paper in airtight container at room temperature. Frosting can be made and covered up to 3 days ahead.

Note: You’ll find a second version of Decorator’s Frosting in the Index.
Sift icing sugar for lump-free frosting
Four basic colors … Plenty of combinations!

Add color to sugar, combining throughly ...

… Until frosting is shiny and smooth
If you find baking sprinkles fun, add them!
What you do is up to you! 

The medium is the message … In this case, cookie dough!

Be sure to make extra … These wont last!

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