Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Bunnies

I love having a week off of work. In addition to getting our house cleaned, laundry done and groceries bought (and NOT being stressed out about getting it all done) I really got to do some fun things. Our house is accessorized with a few new things AND I had a chance to make these.

Oh, I LOVE spring break! Instead of all of those "must do's" that usually fill my Saturday, after some major hedge trimming this morning I came inside and made Easter bunnies. I'm still learning about making good royal icing and my hand control with piping could use some practice, but I'm pretty happy with how they turned out, especially on the first try.

This sugar cookie recipe is one I found online, but it's definitely a keeper. I think it's going to be our 'permanent' sugar cookie recipe, at least for now! One hint, if you use salted butter, cut back on the salt to 1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon. It's up to you!

My new favorite Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ½ t. almond extract
1 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
2 ½ c. sifted flour

Cream butter. Add powdered sugar. Blend in egg, almond extract, vanilla, salt and flour. Chill dough until firm. Roll to ¼” thickness on well-floured surface. Cut with cookie cutters. Place on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 375° for 8-10 min. Cookies should not brown. Frost and decorate when cool.

Royal Icing

4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. meringue powder
5 tbsp. water

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the sheen has disappeared and the icing has a matte appearance (about 7-10 minutes). Transfer the contents of the mixing bowl to an air-tight container.

This will be the stiffest consistency of the icing, and at this point it is still too stiff to use for decorating. Add water a very small amount at a time and stir by hand until fully incorporated. Continue until the icing has reached a consistency appropriate for piping. If you are having any difficulty piping, it is still too thick. Add a little more liquid and try again.

Using a pastry bag, pipe around the edges of each cookie. Let stand so the icing will set. Make sure to keep the leftover icing covered at all times when not in use so that it does not begin to harden.

Once all the cookies have been edged, transfer some of the remaining icing to a separate air-tight container. Thin out by incorporating a small amount of water at a time, until the icing drips off the spoon easily when lifted and then smooths in with that still in the bowl. If you go too far and the icing is too thin, add more sifted powdered sugar to thicken it again. Once the icing has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to a squeeze bottle (or a plastic bag with a hole in one corner), and flood the area surrounded by the piping on each cookie. If it does not completely spread to the edges, use a toothpick to help it along. Allow to set.

Use the remaining thicker icing for piping decoration as desired. Gel icing color is best as it does not add a significant amount of liquid. Liquid food coloring can be used as well - add powdered sugar as needed to compensate for any thinning that occurs.

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