and Salted Caramel Peanut Butter cookies!
Those were the two cookie varieties that wound up making the cut for Thanksgiving, and they were equally divine and their own shining stars on their platters. I have made the peanut butter ones before and they were so amazing that we decided to make them again!
The turkey cookies took the most of my time and were an ongoing baking project throughout my four-day baking stint for this years Thanksgiving, but by far the most rewarding! These cookies were cute and fun and convinced my husband to allow me to buy more cookie cutters (eeekkk!!)!
I used Wilson’s meringue powder, which tastes pretty awful and artificial but I added about a teaspoon of orange extract, which really boosted the flavor of the sugar cookies and when you are using Royal Icing you really want to put some kind of flavor in the meringue, even if it’s just vanilla, because it gives your cookies more umph! Unless of course, you have a standout cookie dough, like when I made the skeleton cookies out of speculoos – you really didn’t need a flavored icing since the cookie overpowered the icing anyways, but speculoos are exceptional cookies!
These were fun in so many ways! I did get about an hour and a half to myself, both Patella and Mei napped in the kitchen (for the most part) while I punched out and pieced together these little turkeys and then I watched LOTS of Brothers & Sisters, a family drama put on by ABC – which I’m totally hooked on now, which was good because it was the end to my evening. It was the thing we did after dinner, Mei would play, Patella would nap or beg for bits of cookie (and when Mei saw her begging, she would also beg… go figure, LOL!), and I would ice and flood my little turkey cookies and watch Brothers & Sisters. If you havent seen the show, you should give it a try, the mother in the series is played by Sally Field and since she is an exceptional actress you shouldn’t need any more prodding before you check this show out! It has run for five seasons and just finished up this year, so there are no cliff hangers for all of us coming in on it this late, you just rent the DVDs and watch them all in a night! … Ok, maybe it will take quite a bit longer, but still… it’s worth a gander!
Ok, enough about my new TV show and back to the cookies!
I managed to find a pretty good sugar cookie recipe, it holds up well to being cut into, shaped, doesn’t really puff up and hardly expands, which are all the qualities you want in a good sugar cookie recipe for decorating like this, although I would like to find one that comes closer to store-bought quality when it comes to taste, something a bit more rich perhaps.
All that aside, I have taken pictures of each stage of piecing the cookies together, you will need a few cookie cutters – which is good if you don’t have one in the shape of a turkey, and its completely flexible as well, just use what you have to get the job done! For all the shapes I had to halve, I kept on hand a pizza cutter and a paring knife and those were completely necessary tools, it made making these so much easier!
As for the icing and flooding, just make sure that you separate out equal amounts of icing (I only needed one recipe btw to do all these… about four and a half-dozen) into bowls and color them and finish all of your outlining before you even bother thinning out the icing for flooding.
While I didn’t take as detailed set of photos to show each step of the decorating, I can tell you that the brown and red outlining icing went in first, and then I flooded the brown to fill in the body of the turkey and used the outlining icing for the beak, eyes, and giblet before I bothered thinning those colors out to flood in the feathers. I think on average, it took about 9 toothpicks and 1.5-2 hours per night to get these all done. The good news is that the icing dried pretty quickly and if you have less time than that, these cookies can be accomplished much more quickly, especially since all the outlining could be done in one night! It’s just a little hard to have that much time when you have a baby pulling herself up on everything!
So here goes nothing!
Ingredients for Sugar Cookies:
- 3 C flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2-1/2 C sugar
- 2 sticks salted/unsalted butter, cold (if you use unsalted, add some salt if desired)
- 2 eggs
- 2-1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or a combination of 1/2 tsp of other extract with the rest being vanilla
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Combine the flour & baking powder in a bowl and set it aside. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until creamy and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time until completely combined, then add the extract and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture, and stir until just combined.
The dough will be crumbly, knead it together with your hands on a lightly floured surface. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap for up to three days in the fridge, or at least an hour to firm up.
Roll out the dough on a floured surface and then cut into shapes and place the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. These cookies will not turn golden but they will slightly brown on the edges when they are done. Test a batch and pull them out a little earlier than you think is necessary, especially if you want a softer cookie.
Ingredients for Royal Icing:
will cover 2-3 dozen cookies that are 3.5 inches in size and in two colors
- 4 TBS meringue powder
- scant 1/2 C water, just shy of the mark on your measuring cup
- 1lb of powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/2-1 tsp light corn syrup
- few drops of any clear extract (optional)
Combine the meringue and water in the bowl of a standmixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat until just combined and foamy.
Then sift in the powdered sugar and beat on low to combine. Dont skip the sifting! But add the sugar tot he sifter little by little or the weight of the sugar will make sifting very difficult.
Add the corn syrup and extract (if you are using it), the corn syrup will keep the icing shiny.
Increase the speed to medium-high or high and beat for about five minutes, just until the icing is glossy and stiff peaks form. You should be able to remove the beater from the mixer and the tip should hold itself up to jiggling and not fall over. Dont overbeat. Err on the side of underbeaten if you aren’t sure.
Cover the icing with plastic wrap touching the surface and divide the icing into as many bowls as you need, color each portion with the color you would like with gel paste food coloring.
- the stiff icing is good for piping outlines, monograms, gingerbread houses, etc.
- to fill in the cookies, add water to the piping icing one teaspoon at a time, stirring with a rubber spatula until it is a syrup consistency.
- if the piped icing on the cookies dries up and falls off, the icing was overbeaten. So re-mix your icing and then beat until glossy and just stiff with the paddle attachment.
- when mixing the icing for flooding, stir in the water with a rubber spatula, rather than beating it. Hold the spatula over the bowl and let the icing fall into the bowl, the ribbon of icing should disappear into the rest of the icing in about 2-3 seconds, counting it one one thousand, two one thousand….
- Divide the icing into how many colors you need. For example, if you need red for outlining and flooding, make a big container of it and after piping, thin it out for flooding. Wait to make the flooding icing until all the outlining is done.
- You can refrigerate the icing if made ahead of time, up to one week.
- When the tinting dark colors, it will darken further over time, so make it the day before and aim for a charcoal color if you are making black, the color of pencil lead and the final result will be black.