I’m part of a great group of bloggers who are all cooking up ways to use Great Value products for the various holidays through out the year. You may remember that for my very first post with them I shared my easy and elegant ideas for using up Thanksgiving leftovers, and then hosted a special baking party at my home for a few friends to teach them how to make the recipes.
Well in honor of the Christmas holidays, my next assignment was to use Great Value Sugar Cookie Dough and Great Value Cinnamon Rolls to make some great holiday treats–without all the work!
I decided this would be a great time to kill two–or actually three–birds with one stone. I’d get this post done, I’d practice my skills with Royal Icing (I’ve always wanted to master the flow icing technique) and I’d get my cookies all made for my 4th annual Holiday Cookie Swap party!
Now I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–I’m usually a make it from scratch kind of girl. But sometimes life just doesn’t give you the kind of time you need for a make it from scratch endeavor–especially when dealing with sugar cookies. I mean really–first I’ve got to remember to take the butter out to soften (which in the winter in my kitchen doesn’t actually happen–seriously-I store my butter on the counter um-refridgerated and it’s hard and un-spreadable). Then you’ve got to make the cookie dough. THEN you’ve got to put it in the fridge for a couple of hours before you can even start the whole rolling out and baking thing. (That’s one of the reasons I love my No Chill Gingerbread recipe–you skip softening the butter & chilling the dough). Using Great Value Sugar Cookie dough meant that I could spend my time concentrating on making them PRETTY 🙂
I started out by baking the cookies. For once I actually read the instructions on the package instead of just charging in and slicing the dough. Did you ever realize that you are supposed to cut the tube of cookie dough into slices 1/2 inch thick?
That’s way thicker than I usually do! I’m usually probably more in the 1/4 inch range. I knew they’d spread so I gave them a LOT of room on the cookie sheet and wound up with nice round cookies about 2 inches across!
Once the cookies were all baked it was time to think about frosting! Actually, I baked the cookies and then stored them in some large ziplock bags for a couple of days until I had time to frost them. That fit better in my schedule!
I made a big batch of Royal Icing in my mixer.
I decided it would be pretty to have red cookies with white snowflakes on them, so I started adding red gel food coloring. It turned a lovely pink, soI added more. And then some more, and then some more. . . and I had a dark pink (not red). . . I took a quick taste and it was DISGUSTING. I had forgotten that too much red food coloring tastes truly nasty.
I have since found out that they make “no-taste” red food coloring for exactly that reason. Blech. The entire batch went in the trash and I started again, this time with green. I would have loved a nice dark forest green-but again there was the pastel issue. (Obviously professional bakers use special food colorings that I don’t have!) I settled on a mint green color that was still Christmasy.
I filled up my pastry bag using the “best tip ever for filling a pastry bag” from Chef Mommy. Seriously, if you do any icing this is a total lightbulb moment. Basically you plop the icing on saran wrap, roll it up and feed it into the pastry bag. It makes more sense when you see her do it. . .
But on to my cookies. I wanted a solid background that I’d fill in with flow icing, then I would wait for it to dry and pipe the snowflake on top. The first step was to outline the cookie with the full thickness Royal Icing.
You are basically making a little dam all the way around the cookie out of Royal Icing to hold in the thinner flow icing. So what is flow icing? Well it’s just watered down Royal Icing! That way it matches the color exactly. Once I was done outlining all my cookies I took the remaining green Royal Icing and very carefully watered it down. Go a little bit at a time-you don’t want to make it TOO runny. I did want it to be a consistency where it would very slowly run off of the beaters.
When I had it the right consistency I put it into the squeeze bottles I had purchased at Walmart in the cake decorating aisle and proceed to fill in the icing outline.This was a very large area to fill, so I went around the outer edge, then I made sort of a swirl through the cookie. Then I filled in the openings between the swirls by just dragging the tip of the squeeze bottle through the icing that was already down in order to sort of push it around. When I needed to I added a bit more icing as well.
The next morning I took some of the white, un-thinned icing that I had set aside and filled the pastry bag again. I put on one of my smallest plain tips and started my snowflake pattern.
I find that doing things like this assembly line style is the most efficient. So I started with making a T on each. Then I did the slash in one direction, on all the cookies, then back again to do the other direction, then finally added in all the smaller details.
So that’s how I dressed up some Great Value Refridgerated Sugar Cookie Dough–in a couple of days I’ll share how the cookie exchange party went!