So I tend to beat myself up when I think I’m not doing something well for reasons that were preventable. If I’m just not good at something that’s fine, I can live with that. But if I rushed or took a shortcut or did something I had a feeling wasn’t the right thing to do? That’s not OK. Which is basically what I did with these Superbowl cookies.
I don’t think they looked bad, and they were a big hit at the two parties I brought them to. But I could have done much better.
I took a private cookie decorating class with Gail Dosik last week, and was really anxious to try my new skills out. At the lesson Gail taught me as much about icing consistency as time allowed, but we were using icing she had made. Getting the consistency right on my own was a challenge.
On Wednesday I made some plain white icing first and tried it out on some Christmas cookies I had in the freezer. The first couple were rough, but eventually I got the hang of it. Flooding them went well. And they were tasty!
Sometimes pretty cookies just don’t taste that great, and I wanted the best of both worlds. Since Gail is apparently taking her delicious cookie recipe to her grave (ahem), I decided to use the rest of that sugar cookie dough – still in the freezer – to make my football cookies on Thursday – still plenty of time before the Superbowl.
What I hadn’t noticed when I made the snowmen was that the dough had spread. A lot. That’s OK for snowmen, they just got plumper and rounder (much like myself in winter, actually). But when I tried it with my new football cookie cutter, they spread from a football shape to a round blob. Oops. I was tired. I put off making more cookies until the next day.
I usually use Martha Stewart’s cutout cookie recipe, and while it’s good, it’s not spectacular. So I decided to try two new recipes on Friday. And they both completely sucked ass. But the one part of flooding cookies that you really have to pay attention to is drying time, and I was running out of time. So I settled on the cookies that sucked less, and on Saturday got to work making brown icing.
Now, it seemed reasonable to me that if I wanted brown icing I should simply add brown food coloring. But it was more like tan, very un-football like. And no matter how much brown I added, it just wasn’t getting any darker. So I added some black. And some more black. Nothing. So I looked online, and some people said they made their brown icing using red and green food coloring. So I dumped that in too. What I had was a slightly orange light mud color that was just about the least appetizing thing I’d ever seen. And the texture was all wrong. I piped it onto a cookie and it looked like a skinny turd, all pock-mocked and uneven and dry looking.
By this point – Saturday night – a friend was over, and he called his mom, who is an amazing baker. She gave me a recipe that used cocoa powder for the coloring. So, starting over, I mixed that up. It looked good. The consistency was good. I got the cookies outlined, and then flooded, and went to bed very satisfied.
However, when I woke up on Sunday I was not happy. There were now weird light spots on some of the cookies, and the edges were cracking. But with the Superbowl eight hours away, there was no turning back.
I mixed up some more white icing and started outlining the white parts of the cookies and adding the laces. Now, after just one cookie I could tell that the consistency was all wrong. It was too thick. And this is where I could kick myself for not taking it out of the piping bag and making it right. Instead, I plowed ahead, piping broken lines and messy laces. Everything was late and I just wanted to get it done so that it would have time to dry.
I’m not saying they looked terrible. I’m saying that if I had been a bit more careful and not tried to just get it done as fast as possible, they could have been so much better. If that had been the best I could do I would be satisfied. But like with so many other things, as I got toward the end of the project I just wanted it to be done, even if that meant sacrificing quality. This it NOT how pretty cookies get decorated.
So, in the end, the cookies looked cute (although not professional), and tasted OK (not great – chocolate royal icing is nowhere near as good as white, and the cookies tasted floury, even though I don’t roll them out with flour). I told Gail what had happened, and it sounds like I was trying to color too much icing at once. She said to start with a small amount and let the color sit for a while – it will get darker (again, I hadn’t left myself enough time for that).
I have problems with time management. I have problems seeing things through to the end. And I have problems not stopping and correcting course when I have the chance. I think decorating cookies might just be the kind of behavior modification therapy I need.
Or I could just try to be like Fiona. She didn’t want to know how to do it the “right” way, she just made them pretty, and was completely satisfied.
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