Let them eat cookies! Pretty cookies!
Christmas craft #2 has been a doozie to pull off. It all started 4 months ago when I saw this pin in Pinterest - gorgeous edible ink stamping on the cutest little cookies! I've been thinking about it ever since, and decided it would the edible component to my xmas goodie bags this year. It all came together over 3 weekends, and I've learned a lot of new techniques & tricks along the way.
First - the cookies. I really wanted a yummy tasting cookie - since royal icing isn't known for being all that flavourful on it's own. This is when I found a fabulous blog called Bake at 350 - Bridget is a cookie genius, and has a delightfully irreverent attitude about baking, which I love. I stumbled across her Vanilla Almond Sugar Cookie recipe - and knew I'd found my winner. The recipe was simple and easy to follow, and I loved that it didn't need to chill for an extended period of time before baking as many other recipes I'd found. Once baked - I stacked the cookies between sheets of parchment paper in a big tupperware container and froze them until I had time to get to step 2. Bridget's advice about freezing was great - I went one step further (or lazier) and just froze them between the parchment paper, and the next weekend, just took them straight from the freezer for icing. No problems at all - the defrosting step was unnecessary.
Now for the icing. I had never made royal icing before - or ever tried the "flooding technique" before, and man was there was a learning curve - but in the end I got it down. It wasn't long before weekend #2 had stacks and stacks of drying cookies all around my kitchen. Great recipe here, and step by step instructions for flooding here. I also found a great tip for filling icing bags with virtually no mess - Karen from Karen's cookies is another cookie genius. After icing all those cookies - I was out of time, so I carefully stacked the dried cookies between parchment again - and back into the freezer they went.
Finally the stamping. The fun - and extremely messy part. I headed over to Michaels and bought some Wilton "Dab-N-Color" and some rubber stamps that I liked. I found out quickly that this type of edible ink doesn't work very well with the clear plastic cling stamps - you've got to use rubber stamps or else the ink just wicks right off and makes a giant mess. This is one of the stamp sets that worked well for me. The trick was to saturate a paper towel with ink, and use it as a stamping pad - experimenting along the way onto paper to get the right ink coverage. Warning - this process is really messy - by the time I was done, my fingertips were black. I looked like I'd been running a letterpress all day!
Once I got the hang of the technique - the rest went quickly, and since every screw up still tasted so yummy, it wasn't heart breaking if I broke a few along the way. Once stamped, the cookies needed to dry again overnight. The next morning I found that on a few that I'd been a little too heavy handed with the ink needed a bit of blotting with a paper towel. Once that was done they were ready for bagging and sharing. Yay for cookies that taste as good as they look.