Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Baking Inspiration

About five years ago, I was in Chelsea Market in NYC and came across Eleni's, a bakery that makes the most beautifully decorated sugar cookies. 
These cookies are no joke - the details are amazing. 

From then on, I became a little obsessed with baking and decorating sugar cookies.  The three recipes that I started were the sugar cookie, orange & cream cookie, and royal icing recipes from Creative Cookies by Toba Garrett.  The recipes were easy to follow and in my opinion, the slight tang of the orange & cream recipe tastes better with the sweet royal icing.
You also need to find the cookie cutter shapes that you want.  I found a good number of them at Cincinnati Cake and Candy SuppliesCrate and Barrel usually carries some decent holiday shapes and Fancy Flours also has a bunch and has inspiring photos and how-to tutorials.  I found that mini cookie cutters were great for practicing icing technique, because there is a smaller surface to decorate which makes it easier when it comes to working with the frosting and figuring out drying times.  Also, small cookies are also just really cute and you can just pop them in you mouth.
Spring cookie shapes

To add color to your royal icing, be sure to use gel food coloring rather than the watery kind that they sell at the supermarket.  The royal icing is very sensitive to water, so the gel adds intense color without watering down the icing too much.  A little gel color goes a long way.
Gel Food Color Kit

The results?
These were one of the first batches that I decorated.  The photos don't do them justice since my camera skills were not so hot 5 years ago.
More bad photos taken in a dark NYC apartment...I was going for girlie here.
 I liked how the herringbone design came out on these, but the colors were a little dull.
I've posted this photo before.  I baked this sparkly batch of mini scalloped edge cookies with royal icing and sugar sprinkles on top for my wedding favors two years ago.  I was really happy with how these turned out. 

I haven't decorated cookies in a long time.  I got a little burnt out after my sister, sister-in-law and I decorated about 300 mini cookies for my wedding.  Next time I bake a batch, I'll take photos as I go along so I can post a step-by-step.


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