Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How to Bake Halloween Sugar Cookies Without Cookie Cutters

Hi there my avid readers from around the world. Halloween is fast approaching right? Here's a great sugar cookie recipe I adapted from Martha Stewart. But before that, yes, I am not kidding! You can shape cookies into whatever you like even if you don't have cookie cutters. I agree, cookie cutters are a bit pricey but sometimes you need to invest on basic cookie cutters like a round or square shaped cutters because they're pretty handy if you want to do things fast but if you're really out of the budget for now, here's what you need to do and what you need to have.

Materials/Instructions:

Photo of shapes you want. (I recommend photos of cookie cutters like this--> here. (skip ads)
Print or draw the shapes you like into a thick cardboard (I recommend glossy surfaced paper like photo paper). The size of the cookie depend on how big you draw or your image is. (just estimate it)
Cut the shapes precisely. Now you're ready to use it.
Place the cut out cardboard on top your dough and use an X-Acto knife or a kitchen paring knife to cut out the shapes using the cardboard with your desired shapes as your guide.
Use flour for dusting so it won't stick on the cardboard. But if your cardboard is shiny or glossy, you won't need a lot of flour for dusting.
Just tweak the sides of the dough by pressing them using your fingers if you want to get rid of the imperfections around it.
When you're done, place the dough to your cookie pan and it's ready to bake.


Anyway, here is the cookie recipe.


4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  • Cream butter, sugar using a mixer in low speed until pale and fluffly and then add the eggs and vanilla then mix in medium speed. 
  • Add the sifted flour, baking powder and salt to the butter mixture in low to medium speed. Do not overwork the dough. 
  • Take note: if the dough is still sticky, you need to add an additional flour to your dough but don't add dough half of the cup one at a time. Just estimate. If you can hold the dough without it sticking on your fingers, then it is ready. 
  • Put the dough inside the resealable plastic or cling wrap and let it sit over the fridge for an hour or overnight. 
  • Get your dough from the fridge and let it softened for awhile in room temperature but not too much. 
  • Ready your countertop by placing wax paper and put scotch tape on it so it won't move. Placing wax paper on top will protect your countertop from scratches form the Xacto Knife. 
  • Roll the dough for about quarter inch and place your shaped cardboard pieces on top of your dough and cut it precisely using your knife and when done, place it carefully into your cookie pan. Before baking your cookies, place it inside the fridge again for 10 minutes so that your cookies attain firm shapes. 
  • Preheat your oven to 162 to 170 degree Celsius or 325 degree Fahrenheit. 
  • If your dough seems to be so soft, place it again inside the fridge for 15 minutes and start cutting the shapes again and again before baking it always put it again inside the fridge to maintain the shapes. The dough will tend to rise when it's so soft that's why you need to freeze it again or you'll lose the shapes. But no worries this dough recipe doesn't rise that much. It's perfect for shaping cookies. 
  • Bake your cookies for about 15 to 20 minutes until the edges of the cookies will turn golden brown. Don't forget to rotate the pan every 10 minutes so that your cookies will evenly baked. Do not over bake and don't leave it inside the oven or your cookie will be burned. Golden brown edges are just perfect cookies. 
  • Cool down the cookies on your cookie rack or plate for 15 minutes before decorating it with royal icing. 

Royal Icing Recipe:

  • 2 egg whites 
  • about 4 cups or more of sifted Confectioner's sugar 
  • 1 tsp. of Clear vanilla extract if you want a pure white icing 
  • Pinch of Cream of tartar (optional to taste) 
  • Gel food colors (black, red, orange, yellow, white, purple) 
Beat the Egg whites until it reach a foamy but stiff consistency then add the sugar gradually. Use the 20 count for piping and 10 count for flooding consistency. If this term is new to to you, then check the video here -->Royal Icing Consistency. (Skip Ads) add the vanilla and then add the colors you want by placing the icing to individual cups.

Here are the photos while making these cookies. I hope you'll like this tutorial guys. Making these cookies was indeed fun but my backache came back! Oh my my...don't forget to stand up once in awhile while doing this 'coz you'll probably forget it..like I do!




 I only made 1 of this Jack Skellington Cookie. I just use a round cookie cutter and cut out the eyes using Xacto Knife and of course, I searched through Google how his eyes looked like and all his facial features. I use a ready made gel icing I bought from the local grocery store. You may also use dark colored jams to fill this cookie sandwich if you want to (e.g. grape, guava or blueberry).
 Ha! I run out of table napkins.. so I just use this tissue out from a new pack of tissue roll. 
 I outlined the cookies first before flooding them but it really depends upon your cookie designs and how you want it to look like. Since I want to give it an embossed effect, so I outlined it first. Use a smaller icing tip for piping the edges. You may use wax paper cone as piping bags also if you don't have icing piping tips.Also, I poke a straw before baking the cookies to create that hole on my cookie if you want to put ribbon with tag later on after decorating your cookies for more personalized touch.
Here's how it looked  like when it's flooded with royal icing.
 Sometimes you need to wait for the royal icing to dry out completely before continuing on your work. Actually, it took me 2 days to finish decorating 60 cookies. Oh my my....This recipe yields me 60 cookies but it really depends on what size your cookie is...bigger cookies may only yield 30 to 40 cookies. 

Here are photos of the cookie when it's icing completely dried out from room temperature. 





My mummies looked terrible!!! Ha! Please don't judge me ..LOL!

It's difficult to attain the blackest black in mixing the icing...grrr...even my red doesn't turned out red..so I add a little bit of orange to make it brighter red.
 My favorite of them all are the cats. I hand painted them using gel colors and white tequila 'coz it's the only thing available for now and it's closely similar to vodka. Don't use water 'coz the outcome will not be that good. Look at the black cat which I used water and turned out spongy unlike using the tequila to wet the brush it gives a shiny effect since it evaporates easily than water.
I use cookie cutter on this anyway and tried piping it like a lace but it doesn't turned out like a lace instead. It's like a mesh. You need a smaller icing tip to create a fine mesh for a lace and unfortunately I don't have. I'll purchase it on my next salary 'coz it's a must!




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