I'm not Irish. Not even a little bit. But my name is Meghan, and I married an Irish boy with a very Irish last name, so I consider myself Irish by proxy. St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. As a kid, my mom always made corned beef and cabbage, my aunt prepared her famous Grasshopper Pie, and we had green snake bread and green popcorn. (Again, I'm not Irish). In college, St. Pat's was always about fun parties and bars. Green beer, green shots, Shamrock stickers, beads, etc. Not that I don't still enjoy that type of thing (and not that I didn't partake in a 'Leprechaun pee shot' a few weekends ago-ew), but now this holiday is also an excuse for me to make festive desserts. I've been wanting to try royal icing for a while now, after seeing the beautiful cookies Annie made.
I looked everywhere for a shamrock cookie cutter (ok, so Michael's and Dollar Tree are not everywhere, but still). Bob suggested I look on Amazon - why didn't I think of that?! We ordered one in the parking lot of Dollar Tree, thanks to his iPhone, and it arrived a few days later. It's quite a bit smaller than I imagined, but that's ok.
This is my first time making these sugar cookies. I'm not a big fan of sugar cookies in general, but these are pretty tasty. The lemon zest and almond extract give them a little something extra. I made a half batch, as listed below, so see the linked source for the full recipe.
Can you tell I'm trying to work on my photography? :)
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (pure or imitation)
1/2 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar, for rolling
Wilton icing color gel, optional
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Cream butter and sugars in a mixer for 5 minutes. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly.
3. Add in vanilla, almond, and lemon zest. Beat for 10 seconds. Add in baking powder and salt, beat again.
4. Add in flour 1 cup at a time, mix for 15 seconds between each addition. Do not over mix.
5. Chill dough for up to a week in the fridge, or roll and cut right away. At this point, I split the dough in half and added Wilton icing gel in Kelly Green to one portion. I then flattened each dough ball into a disc and wrapped in plastic wrap to store in the fridge overnight.
6. Bake on parchment lined cookie sheet for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown on the bottom.
Source: Adapted from Good Things Catered
3 Tablespoons Wilton Meringue Powder
4 cups powdered sugar
6 Tablespoons warm water (for stiffer icing, use 1 T less)
Makes 3 cups
1. Prepare the base icing: Beat all ingredients until icing forms peaks (7-10 minutes at low speed with a heavy-duty mixer, 10-12 minutes at high speed with a hand-held mixer).
2. Transfer mixture to airtight container. This can be stored at room temperature as long as it is covered.
3. Prepare the piping icing: Remove a small amount of the base icing mixture to a bowl and add small amount of water (1 tablespoon at a time, or less) to achieve a consistency that allows for easy piping. Add icing color if desired. At any point, if mixture is too thick, add water; too thin, add more powdered sugar. Always keep the icing mixture covered, either with an airtight lid or a piece of plastic wrap, to prevent it from hardening or drying out.
4. Place a pastry bag in a glass about 3 inches shorter than the bag; fold top of bag over edge of glass to form a cuff. Fill bag with icing. Squeeze out air and close opening of bag, securing it closed with a twist tie. This can also be done with a large resealable plastic bag. I bought some cheap icing tips but didn't get an adapter, so I just cut off the tip of the bag (just a few millimeters from the end). You can place a damp paper towel or washcloth in the bottom of the glass at this point to create a place to set the icing bag and prevent the icing on the tip of the bag from hardening.
5. Outline your cookies as desired. Let icing set.
6. Prepare the flooding icing: Either using the rest of the icing from step 3 or some fresh icing from step 2, thin out the icing with water until the consistency is quite fluid - when you allow the icing to drip off the spoon/spatula, it should disappear into the rest of the icing within 3-5 seconds. Again, fill a pastry bag or resealable plastic bag with the icing. Snip off tip if you don't have an icing tip. Apply the thinned icing inside each outlined cookie. The outline provides a 'dam' to hold in the fluid icing. Use a toothpick to help the icing get to the edges, if necessary.
7. Allow the icing to set. This may take several hours, or up to 24. You can gently transfer the cookies to an airtight container to store overnight, but be careful not to stack them, even if using waxed paper between layer, or you might disrupt the icing (not that I did that or anything ;)
8. After the flooded icing has dried completely, pipe on thicker icing (freshly prepared from mixture in step 2 or leftover from step 3) in designs as desired.
Source: Adapted from instructions provided with Wilton Meringue Powder and tips provided by Annie's Eats and Baking 911