Respect the ‘mo! I can’t grow one, but I can bake some moustache cookies. Support the movement to fund men’s health programs. Donate on Movember’s website.
My cookie cutters came from J-Wilton.com; it’s an Edmonton-based Wilton distributor/wholesaler.
I have been furiously baking cookies in the past few weeks; if you’re following me on Twitter, you’d probably read that I was learning to bake traditional pfefferkuchen from my husband’s Oma. Oma’s the cookie queen every Christmas. While unsalted butter is the secret to best shortbread and sugar cookies ever, scuttle over to your local No Frills for Lactantia butter sale — this week only — ending Nov 27th, 2014 (Thursday). $2.97 each, but there’s a limit of two per family.
When it comes to baking/cooking/decorating, I’ve got one philosophy: if it scares me, do it. Mistakes are often comical even though I may lose sleep over it. I adore the process of sharing what my approach was and involve other bakers (“cakers” or “cookie-rs”) to help me trouble-shoot what went wrong. While revamping the blog, I re-read posts of my first attempts on cake decorating. It’s exciting to see how much has changed since I’ve developed a sweet passion to grow as a home pastry chef. So, if you’re a beginner at baking/decorating cookies or cakes, dive right in! You can only get better! If you’ve got any questions, comment away and I will respond to the best of what I know — or I will help escalate your question to the baking community I partake in.
Cookies – Baking Notes:
Try not to roll your cookies too thin — you could end up burning your cookies; they also break easily. I did that experiment where I’m so used to rolling pie and pizza crusts as thin as possible. Nope, keep the dough rolled around 1/4″ thick.
To make this cookie dough workable, you should budget time to chill the dough for at least 2 to 3 hours. Lucky for us Canadians, during this snowy sub-zero winter, popping it outside (cling-wrapped properly, of course) works just as well. (That’s the plus side of winter!) Freezing the dough in the freezer prior to baking will help reduce ‘spreading’ of the cookie. Spreading is not really a desirable trait since your cookies might end up being Siamese twins, which happened to some of my cookies. Those were a good excuse for test-taste cookies, especially when they’re right out of the oven.
You can use either the paddle attachment of your stand-mixer or the beater attachments of your hand whisk.
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 tsp vanilla (I used Lorann’s Butter Vanilla emulsion, which you can find at Bulk Barn)
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour
Mix butter, sugar, egg, orange juice and vanilla until fluffy. (Don’t over-mix as you don’t want to introduce too much air)
Gradually stir in flour (with a wooden spoon or continue using the paddle) until well mixed. Chill 2 to 3 hours in the fridge until the dough is firm enough to be rolled out with a rolling pin.
Flour the working surface prior to rolling out. Be careful not to add too much flour as it dries out your cookie dough. The fun part is cutting your cookie dough with your favourite cutters.
(With my fan convection oven, most ideal temperature was 350F for 4 and a half minutes. I actually started at 375F, but ended up almost burning the bottom of my cookies. You’d ideally want a slightly golden brown bottom, but to maintain the desirable soft chewiness, don’t bake the cookies for too long.)
It is a good idea to bake ahead as cookie decorating takes a lot of time. Royal Icing is a royal pain in the bee-____. I was introduced to the world of Franken-Frosting by the sweetest Cookie community group on Facebook; it’s the process of mixing Royal Icing and Glaze. The original recipe is from Sweet Hope Cookies (click link), where Anita tweaked Sweet Sugarbelle’s version by adding glycerin. I halved the Royal Icing recipe since I was working with just over half of the cookie dough for baking moustache cookies. (I skipped the glaze, for now. I wanted to know how the icing behaves with glycerin.)
The list of ingredients I used (Please click on Sweet Hope Cookies for directions):
500 g icing sugar
1 tbsp meringue powder
1/4 cup warm water, with 1 tsp vanilla essence and 1/2 tsp almond extract (these two were oil-free; one cookie decorator told me that she used emulsions, which contained oil. It still worked fine for her)
1 /2 tbsp glycerin
Little did I know that I didn’t add enough water, following the directions exactly to a tee. The ingredients were the only thing I adapted. It was paste-like consistency.
It smelled divine and tasted like candy. Royal Icing Candy apparently is a thing. I was able to roll it like fondant; a couple baking friends and I had quite the chuckle when I posted it on InstaGram. Luckily, I had home-made almond buttercream on hand to whip and use — the “rolled royal icing” wouldn’t stick by itself. THAT was a lot of work for just ONE cookie. I was ready to throw in the towel at 2 AM and switch to Oma’s simplest glaze icing recipe.
However, it’s easier to start out with a dry royal icing than a wet royal icing. The icing is shiny and easier to pipe with, once I added more water; remember, less is always more — so start small when it comes to adding water. Black though, is my least favourite colour to work with when it comes to sugar art, as it requires patience. You can see from the range of different colours. The middle grey one was being let to rest for over an hour. I remedied it by taking half of that grey paste and added a bit more black, then knead. Once it got to that shade of dark grey, I combined with the rest of the light gray. It then became black like the featured picture.
I used Ziploc sandwich bags instead of disposable icing bags; I think a medium-size freezer bag would work better — you need a good seal on top to prevent icing from flowing out. Icing cookies takes a great deal of attention and patience — do let it dry before picking it up. I was trying to take a cookie moustache selfie.. then, the icing cracked.
When you apply a wet offset spatula to the cookie, it looks like this:
It has got a nice glaze to it. Now, I can get fancier by adding lustre dust to Vodka and glittering the moustaches, but it was after 3 AM. My tummy was growling too. I had to sleep before I transformed into a Cookie Monster.
Brought the cookies to work and it was well-received. Looks like I could potentially receive my first order of 150 mustache cookies for next year’s Movember at work event.