Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Cookie Bouquets

I have to apologize for not posting for the last few days. This is the kids' last week of school before Christmas break and I've been crazy busy in my kitchen baking treats, dipping pretzels and candy canes and putting together gifts for all the wonderful people who teach, drive and care for my children while they're at school.

I feel compelled to take a moment to acknowledge those individuals who are in my children's lives-I won't mention you by name-but you know who you all are. I send my precious kids to you everyday with complete confidence that they are safe, secure and loved. You are not only teaching them the skills they need to pass a standardized test, you're helping us to nurture respectful, kind, courteous, thoughtful and caring young men and women. Marty and I are so thankful for each of you and feel very blessed that you have been a part of our children's lives. Merry Christmas to all of you!

My largest project for the week has been baking and creating cookie bouquets. I have always admired the creativity behind many fun bouquets I've seen and decided to try my skills at creating Christmas themed bouquets to give as gifts. I started with the Tuesday's with Dorie sugar cookie recipe that was featured a couple of weeks ago. I had such great success with her recipe and loved the addition of lemon zest that gave the cookie a little extra "kick", I knew it was the perfect choice for my bouquets. The glazed icing recipe I found through a link from one of my favorite blogs; The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. Shelby created absolutely beautiful snowflake cookies on our TWD post and shared the link to Sara's blog. I haven't quite figured out how to link you from my post, but Shelby's blog site is listed under the "Blogs I Follow" feature to the right of my recipe posts. Enjoy her amazing blog!
My two youngest with their teachers' cookie bouquets!
It was Colts' Day at school-hence the blue jerseys instead of holiday wear.

I began by preparing three separate batches of dough not knowing how many cookies I would get out of each. I knew that the cookies would have to be extra thick for them to remain solidly in place on the stick. I certainly didn't want my little ones taking "fragile" cookies onto the morning bus. Can't you just see it little ones walking carefully across the street through slippery snow, taking those huge steps up into the big, yellow bus (by the way-why are those silly steps so darn big and difficult for little legs to climb? Didn't the designer know that there would be small children riding those buses? Ok, sorry-back to my story) and then trying to squeeze their book-bag, winter coat and fragile cookies into the narrow opening of their assigned, dark green bench. Not to mention the other precious riders on the bus, will they leave their hands off the packaged cookies or be so curious they have to touch just one to satisfy their urge? That's a disaster in the making...the poor teachers would have probably ended up with a package of crushed up sugar cookies complete with tears of "I'm Sorry". Not exactly a great "Merry Christmas" gift! I knew those cookies had to be "tough", so, to ensure stability, I ended up rolling the dough to 5/8" which was a perfect thickness to surround the stick and insure that our little cookies wouldn't go anywhere when finished. Because the cookies had to be so thick, each batch of dough yielded one dozen cookies.

Santa's Boot

Christmas Trees

I cut out six different designs for each bouqet, the Santa boot and Christmas tree pictured above as well as an ornament, snowman, gingerbread man, and a present. I wanted the cookies to be a decent size, especially since the base they would be placed in was a medium sized tin, so I chose to use 3 inch cookie cutters. They turned out to be absolutely perfect in size.

Glazing the cookies was fun and fairly simple albeit very time consuming. I really wanted these to be nearly perfect since they were gifts to some very special people. I used thicker icing to pipe around each cookie to make a "well" that would be filled in with the colored icing. I found that this is the best way to insure no run-off drips. After the piped icing dried a little, I went back and "painted" the cookies. Ever since I was a small girl I have loved to sit and color, well, this beats all...I not only got enjoy coloring cookies, but I got to eat the "crayons". Fun stuff!

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process of my project and can't wait for the next opportunity to create another cookie bouquet. My hope is that all who received this gift enjoys eating these yummy cookies as much as I enjoyed baking and creating them.

Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temp.
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
lemon zest (optional)-for the most flavor, rub the zest into the sugar before adding it to the butter
Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed for a minute or so, until smooth. Beat in the sugar and continue to beat for about 2 minutes, until the mixture is light and pale. Add the egg and yolk and beat for another minute or two; beat in the vanilla. Reduce the mixer speed to low and steadily add the flour mixture, mixing only until it has been incorporated-because this dough is best when worked least, you might want to stop the mixer before all the flour is thoroughly blended into the dough and finish the job with a rubber spatula. When mixed, the dough will be soft, creamy and malleable.
Turn the dough out onto a counter and divide it in half. Shape each half into a disk and wrap in plastic. The dough must be chilled for at least 2 hours. (Well wrapped, the dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.)
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Roll out dough between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to a thickness of 1/4" (5/8" to make cookie bouquet), lifting the plastic or paper and turning the dough over often so that it rolls evenly. Lift off the top sheet of plastic or paper and cut out the cookies. Pull away the excess dough, saving the scraps for rerolling, and carefully lift the cookies onto the baking sheet with a spatula, leaving about 1 1/2 inches between the cookies.
Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 9 to 11 minutes, rotating the sheet at the midpoint. The cookies should feel firm, but they should not color much, if at all. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool completely before glazing.
Source: Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Glace' Icing
1 lb powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 cups)
1/4 C + 2T Whole milk (low-fat actually works, but use whole if you can)
1/4 C +2T light Corn Syrup
1 t extract (I used almond)
With a whisk, combine sugar and milk until smooth (no lumps!). Then stir in corn syrup and extract.
You will use this same recipe for both glazing and piping. The way it is right now is the consistency you want for glazing. For piping just thicken with more powdered sugar.
Source: Our Best Bites


Tracy said...

can you tell me more about the sticks you used and if i bake with them in the dough?? thanks!

Christy said...

Tracy, I purchased the long lollipop sticks @ WalMart in the Wilton Cake isle by crafts. I did insert the sticks into the dough prior to baking. If you have any further questions, let me know. :) Good luck!

Tracy said...

i assumed you did, but i've never tried it before. i'm trying to decide if i have time to do these for my co-workers or not. i only have one day to work on them, so i'm thinking i may go the easy route and make the cute chocolate dipped pretzels i saw instead. i SO want to try these though!!

HoneyB said...

Christy! I am so excited!! You are one of my pay it forward winners! Please email me at grumpyshoneybunch at yahoo dot com.

Pamela said...

How beautiful! It was generous and thoughtful of you to make such lovely and creative gifts for those special and lucky people!

Tara said...

Wow those are amazing! I'll have to give that a try next year!

TeaLady said...

Great use of TWD recipe. Those bouquets are wonderful. Fantastic job.

Kelly Weaver said...

Christy I was so impressed by these bouquets. They were absolutely beautiful! As Doug says, you are my hero!!!!

Cristine said...

Beautiful cookies!!! What a wonderful gift!

juju73 said...

These are adorable! You are quite talented!!!!

Happy 2009! said...

Great ideas!!!! Congratulations for the blog. Bye from Italy

From the Staff of

I add your blog in my foodblog La mia ricetta

mădălina said...

omigosh these are precious.. too bad i found them after christmas:p