Hello, DNCWWO readers! Happy 4th of July to all of my American followers! I hope you all have fun plans for the day. Here in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the nation, there is always lots of festivities. Many neighborhoods and suburbs have parades and fireworks displays, and the city puts on a HUGE fireworks display after their parade and free concert in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There are food-centered activities, like Wawa Hoagie Day (free Italian hoagies!), and an all-you-can-eat ice cream event to raise money toward finding a cure for pediatric leukemia. And there are many, many family barbecues.
Tying in to current events, the animal shelter where I volunteer hosted a large on-site adoption event themed "Let Freedom Ring!," encouraging potential adopters to come down to the shelter and free a dog or cat from the stressful environment. During these events, held every four weeks or so during the summer, they have a sort of party out on the front lawn. There is a DJ playing music, games for kids to play, face-painting, and food, all of it donated by generous volunteers and community members.
One of the requested items was cookies. I thought decorated sugar cookies would be perfect, since they can be made to suit any event. I got my inspiration for the decorations from A Helicopter Mom's 4th of July cookies. You can use any sugar cookie (or butter cookie) recipe you prefer, though the recipe I prefer to use is below. I prefer it because it's almost a hybrid of sugar cookie and butter cookie, and does not spread much.
Cookie recipe source: CakeCentral.com
For the cookies:
- 1 lb unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoon extract (vanilla, almond or lemon)
- 6 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the decorations:
- 1 star-shaped cookie cutter
- 1 Liberty bell-shaped cookie cutter
- Light corn syrup
- Pastry brush
- 8 ounces each red, white and blue fondant, purchased or homemade (see below)
- Vegetable shortening
- 1 recipe royal icing (see below)
- Piping bags
- Small round tip (#1, #2, or #3)
- Place butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream together on medium-speed for about five minutes, until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time, then beat in the vanilla.
- Stir together the flour, baking powder and salt, then gradually mix into the butter mixture on low speed.
- Scrape the dough onto a clean work surface and gather into a ball. Flatten to a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Break off half the dough (or a third, if you only have a small space to roll the dough out). Lightly flour your work surface, and roll out dough to ¼ or ⅛-inch thickness. Flour your cookie cutter, and cut shapes into the dough. Place cut shapes onto baking sheets (never mix shapes on a baking sheet - using the same shape ensures even baking). Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheet pans halfway through baking time.
- Gather the dough into a ball, flatten to a disk, rewrap and refrigerate. Bring out the other half (or another third) of the dough and repeat, rewrapping and chilling when finished. Alternate rolling and chilling until all the dough is used and cookies are baked.
- Let cookies cool completely before decorating.
- When ready to decorate, grease work surface with vegetable shortening. Working with one color of fondant at a time, and keeping the rest covered, knead the fondant until soft and pliable, then roll to ⅛-inch thickness. Use the same cookie cutters to cut shapes into the fondant.
- Use pastry brush to paint a very thin layer of corn syrup on each cookie, then carefully place cut pieces of fondant onto each cookie.
- Fit pastry bags with tip and coupler, then fill halfway with royal icing and pipe designs onto each cookie. Let dry overnight.
- 3 egg whites* or 3 tablespoon meringue powder
- 1 lb confectioners sugar
- 6 tablespoon warm water
- Splash of clear vanilla extract
- Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed for 7 to 10 minutes. Tint as desired.
- 16 ounces Kraft mini marshmallows (don't use generic)
- 2 tablespoon water
- 2 lbs powdered sugar
- Vegetable shortening
- Place the marshmallows and the water in a microwaveable bowl. Heat on high in 30 second increments, stirring after each one, until marshmallows are melted.
- Pour half of the powdered sugar onto a clean work surface and make a well in the center.
- Grease your hands with shortening, then pour the melted marshmallow mixture into the well.
- Knead the sugar and the marshmallows mixture together, adding more powdered sugar as needed to make a dough. You may not need all 2 pounds of sugar. Finished dough should be soft, smooth and pliable.
- Keep covered when not in use, and store wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap, inside a zip-top bag.