This is my first winter in the North of Germany and I am very over the cold! I can deal with winters in the South of England where it at least gets up to 10°C every day but a high of 2°C does not make me a happy person. It is also really not easy to take process pictures for my blog posts when the only decent light is between 11am and 3pm. Thankfully the sun came out today for a little bit.
The one thing I really miss about not baking to order is decorating sugar cookies. I loved hearing what party themes/colours people had chosen and decorating cookies along the same line, so I really enjoyed making this blog post. I have wanted to make a puzzle cookie for a while now and I hope you like it too.
I love my standard sugar cookie recipe but I also like to mix it up a bit so this week I have a brown sugar cookie recipe for you, it changes the taste to a more caramel flavour. Here’s hoping Spring is just around the corner!
Brown Sugar Cookies
225g softened butter
225g soft brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
425g plain flour
Bake at 170°C for about 8 mins
Cream the butter and sugar until incorporated, don’t over do it as you want these cookies to hold their shape and not expand too much during baking. Scrape down the sides and mix again.
Add the egg, combine, scrape down the sides and mix again.
Add vanilla extract and combine.
Sift flour and salt into the mixing bowl. Mix on a low speed for 30 sec, when it clumps together it’s ready.
I roll out a sheet of parchment paper as wide as my fridge shelf and cut two. Place the cookie dough on one sheet and press it a bit flatter. Place the second sheet on top and roll out your cookie dough to around 5mm thick. Panic not if you do not have a rolling pin, a chilled bottle of wine works a treat! To make your life easier using spacers on either side of the dough makes rolling quick and easy without having to check if it is rolled out evenly or not. But these are not essential unless you plan to make a LOT of cookies.
Place the dough flat on a shelf in the fridge for an hour and it will harden up making cutting cookies much easier.
Cookie cutters are great, there are thousands of shapes available to buy and they are quick and easy to use but I regularly use a cardboard template and a sharp knife to make the shapes I want.
Place cut cookies onto parchment lined baking trays and bake at 170°C for 8-12 mins depending on the size of the cookies. If the cookies have been out for a while and are very soft I suggest putting them back into the fridge for 10 mins as they keep their shape best that way.
Once cooled you can start your decorating. I have never made my own royal icing from scratch as in the UK you can buy royal icing powder in the baking aisle, it tastes fine and is easy to use. I add a lot more water than the instructions on the box suggest so here’s how I do it.
Start by following the instructions on the box, after 5 mins of whisking with a stand mixer I add 1 tsp of water, mix and check. I run a sharp knife through the icing and count to 10, if the line has settled back into the icing in 10 seconds it is a good consistency to use, if it has not disappeared add another tsp of water and mix again for 1 min and repeat your checks until it is thin enough to dry smoothly on your cookie. This is great to cover the whole of your cookies. If you want to add any small details you will need to add some icing sugar to the mix to thicken it up a bit to hold your artwork. I do this to each colour as and when I need it.
Separate your icing into different bowls and using gel paste food colouring, colour your icing. Colours become darker on standing so try to stop a shade or two lighter than you want and a little colouring goes a long way. I am not very good at pastel cookies, mine always end up bright.
While using one colour cover the other icing with cling film. To prevent it forming a crust and blocking your nozzle place the cling film directly onto the icing not over the top of the bowl.
If you have any questions please let me know in the comments below. Enjoy decorating!