September 27, 2010

Colour Me A Rainbow – Eggless Decorated Sugar Cookies! Daring Baker Challenge September, 2010


I’m going to be honest and say that I was very happy to find out that this month’s Daring Baker challenge was all about making and decorating sugar cookies. I’m not much of a cookie person, but my daughter is, and it is a nice change to be doing something other than cake and buttercream.

The September 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Mandy of “What the Fruitcake?!” . Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porschen and The Joy of Baking.
You can find the detailed challenge for this month at the Daring Baker site or Mandy's blog.



Multicoloured "Tile" Cookies


I know that perhaps baking sugar cookies in not much of a challenge for many. Actually, the real challenge is to get creative with decorating the cookies around the theme of “September’, whatever September means to each one of us.

Say September, and the first thing that comes to my mind is “birthday”. My mother and I both celebrate our birthdays in September so that’s what my theme is for this challenge. On the south-western coast of India, September is also the month when the 3 month long monsoon season is almost over. The austerity of these months (no fishing, no agricultural activity, etc), once again, gives way to more plentiful and happy times.




"Mehendi" Hearts


I love the rains, but with the monsoon gone, suddenly there is more colour everywhere. It is once again time for warm days but cooler nights, and of course, the season for weddings.



"Birthday Cake" Cookies, Tile Cookies and "Mehendi" Cookies


I decorated my cookies with all this in mind. So you’ll find birthday cakes, as well as mehendi (an essential part of Indian weddings and other auspicious occasions) inspired designs on my cookies. You’ll also find many of the bright and beautiful colours of my September on my butterflies and other cookies. That’s not quite the rainbow I mentioned in my post title but close enough.



Butterfly Cookies


Most of you who follow my blog will know that I always try to attempt my Daring Baker challenges eggless or with as few eggs as possible. This month I was happy I could make both the sugar cookies and the icing without eggs.
I wonder why these are called sugar cookies when you consider that they contain as much or more butter than sugar, until they are decorated!



Flower Tile Cookies


I have made decorated eggless sugar cookies before, but decided I would get as creative as I could in the time I had on hand. I had every intention of doing this month’s challenge early and even made my cookies 10 days back.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the time to decorate them till a couple of days ago. When I finally opened the cookie box, more than half of them were gone! Apparently, no one was aware I had wanted to decorate them.
So I first baked another batch of cookies and then spent the better part of my afternoon the past two days sitting down to decorating the cookies.



"Star" Cookies


Making the sugar cookies in themselves are easy, and do not take much time. It is the decorating that takes time because for some designs each coat of icing has to dry completely, before you can do the next part.
The cookies also need to dry really well before they can be stored. Remember these cookies should be stored in airtight containers at room temperature, as storing them in the fridge will make them sticky and tacky.



"Doughnut" Cookies


I used Eleanor’s Sugar Cookies, reduced the butter a bit and substituted 2 cups of all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. The nice thing with this recipe is that the cookie dough does not need refrigeration, unlike most other sugar cookie recipes. You can mix up the dough, roll it out straightaway, cut out the shapes and bake them all at one go.
Eggless Sugar Cookies

(Adapted from Slashfood)



Ingredients:


1 cup sugar

200gm butter, softened at room temperature

3 to 5 tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt



Method:


Beat the sugar and butter together in a bowl, with a hand mixer, till smooth and fluffy. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until combined. Set aside.

In another bowl bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder and salt. Add this to the wet ingredients in batches, and mix well by hand till combined. If the dough isn’t quite coming together, add a tsp or so of milk and knead. Do not be tempted to add too much milk or knead more than necessary to bring the dough into a ball which can be rolled out, as you cookies will become tough.

Roll the dough out uniformly till just about 1/4" thick. Cut out cookies and place them on ungreased cookie sheets. You can place them quite close to each other as the cookies will not spread out or puff up much.

Bake them at 180C (350F) for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and thickness of your cookies. When done the cookies must still be pale and just beginning to turn golden at the edges. Let them cool on the tray for about 5 minutes and then cool completely on a rack.




Store them in an airtight container till ready to decorate. I stored mine for 10 days before I decorated them. Humidity can soften these cookies, and you can just warm them in the oven or microwave to crisp them before decorating. Make sure they are cool.
This recipe makes quite a few cookies, depending on size and shape.



Eggless Royal Icing

(Adapted from Veglicious)



Ingredients:


1/2 cup icing sugar

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

1 tsp lemon juice

a few drops food coloring (colour and amount as desired)

2-3 tsp milk (or water)



Method:


You can double this quantity if you need more icing.
Sift the sugar and cornstarch together and put it into a bowl. Add the the lemon juice and the milk, 1 tsp at a time, until the mixture becomes a smooth, but thick paste.

Divide the icing into different bowls according to the colours you need. Add a few drops of required colour to each bowl and mix till you get the shade you want.
Keep for about 10 minutes till all the air bubbles come to the top.

You can adjust the consistency of this icing according to your requirement. If you need to thin the icing add a bit of milk/ water and mix till you get the desired consistency. If you need it thicker, add more icing sugar as required.

The icing will harden if left open so put it into your piping bags and keep ready for use. Using couplers with your icing bags is good as it is easy to change the tips. If you do not have icing tips or couplers, you can still using a piping bag or a ziplock bag and just make sure you cut very little off the tip so you can get fine lines for decorating.



Decorating The Sugar Cookies:


Keep all your icing, tips, cookies, toothpicks/ wooden skewers and whatever else you need at your work table. Spread your work table with some old newspaper or something similar to make cleaning up after easier. I know this is basic stuff, but just thought I’d mention it.




You can either start decorating you cookie directly like I did my orange flowers on the square cookies. Otherwise you can pipe a base layer on your cookie.
There are many different ways of piping and working the icing depending on what pattern or design you are aiming for.

You can also have two sets of icing (a thicker one for outlining and a thinner one for flooding) of the same colour. Otherwise you can use the same to do both like I did.

First outline the area that needs to be filled with colour. If you want the outline to show up distinctly, then wait till it is completely dry. Then fill the space with the colour.
If you are working with different colours, you would need to let each one dry before using the next colour to prevent the colours bleeding into each other.

For detailed instructions on decorating using icing, please see the challenge (link at the beginning of this post) where Mandy has explained everything very well with accompanying pictures.
Verdict:


These particular eggless sugar cookies are quite buttery and taste more like shortbread than sugar cookies. Of course, that is probably a good thing if you love shortbread like my daughter does.

I do like this particular icing, not just because it doesn’t have egg in it, but because of the lemon juice. The lemon juice lends a lovely tang to the cookie and it also cuts down on the cloying sweetness of the icing sugar.
The general consensus here is that these cookies are not just pretty, but very good to eat too.

This eggless icing needs to be made really thick for outlining and piping as it tends to spread out a little bit. This is probably because of the absence of egg whites.

I used dark cocoa to colour some icing brown, and this particular icing did not spread as much as the other colours did. Perhaps next time, a little more cornstarch in the icing might help.
The icing dries well, but is not as hard as royal icing made with egg whites.




Some of the cookies in my pictures have been decorated by my daughter. It brought back memories of when she was 5 or 6 and we used to sit down with lots of paper, scissors, glue, all her paints and do craft projects together.
On the whole, this challenge was fun, more so as I was getting creative with colours after a rather long time.

You also have to see the riot of colours my Daring Baker friends have been celebrating September with.


96 comments:

MeetaK said...

you've blown me away aparna! simply gorgeous! they are far too beautiful to eat!

Madhuli said...

The cookies look stunning..Tile cookies look so vibrant and loved the idea of the mehendi designs..lotso' hard work but worth it in the end!super

BangaloreBaker said...

Beautiful work aparna. I especially liked the tile cookies. Never attempted eggless royal icing, but sure will try. God, where do you get patience woman? I have none.

chef_d said...

Wow your cookies are all so gorgeous, especially the "mehendi" cookies and the multi-colored tiles. Excellent job!

Aparna said...

Thanks girls. :)
Meeta, they're too tempting not to eat! :)

Madhuli, it did mean some work and I have a slightly sore back to show for it!

Champa, I love creative stuff like this and always have the patience for it. Its being interrupted that irritates me. :)

arundati said...

absolutely stunning cookies aparna, i agree with meeta that they're almost too pretty to eat... i loved the mehndi design and the tile ones... but really everything out there is just so pretty

Marisa said...

Your cookies are simply spectacular! Think I'll need to come to you for decorating lessons. :-)

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

These are stunning, A!! You did a fantastic job! What colors did you use [what brand]?

Happy Cook said...

woowwwwwwwwwwwwwwww they are just absloutley BEAUTIFUL. I love the mehandi deco and the tiles one. So so perfect, you have done a wonderful job with the challenge. WELL DONE.

Anita said...

WOW!! You've done a beautiful job with your cookies. The intricate patterns on the hearts - wow! plus all the other decorations you've done are gorgeous too!

Aparna said...

Thanks Avanika. I used Bush, Boake and Allen colurs. I used yellow, red, blue and green and then mixed them top get the other colours. I also added cocoa powder to white icing for brown.

procrastinatingbaker said...

Your biscuits are stunning! The sunflower tile is particularly impressive. Wow! Are they all done using icing in plastic bags?

Veena said...

Wow,I am speechless! All I can say is hats off - you have the knack of turning the most pedestrian of items into designer ware!!! Those cookies made me smile - wish you could figure a way to ship me some! :-)

Mary said...

Your cookies are absolutely gorgeous, Aparna! I love the mosaic tile ones, but wish I could make some of the mehendi ones. You are so precise and patient with the piping. Very nicely done!
:)

Honey @ honeyandsoy said...

oooh so many different cookies!! I absolutely <3 the mehendi hearts... so intricate and perfect!

Vidya said...

O, wow!!! Gorgeous pictures Aparna.
I am trying and trying to pick a favourite but they are all equally stunning. Nice work.

Nandini said...

Oh wow! What mind-blowing cookies! They're a great masterpiece of cookies! Looks like real tiles!

Aparna said...

Yes Amanda, I used plastic icing bags. I have icing tips, couplers and stuff, but I find using plastic icing bags the easiest. :)

Thank you *taking a bow*, Veena. You want those cookies, then you come down here! :)
Tell me if someone from there is coming down this side and I'll pack you a box.

lata raja said...

Absolute visual treats!!!
I am going...I like this, mmm...no this...mmm...
The flower in four tiles takes it all!!!!

Asha @ FSK said...

Aparna.. is this stunning or what!!! OMG!!! LOVE LOVE the mehendi ones!! I want to get mehendi done by you!! Fabulous decoration!! :))))

Nupur said...

Too adorable for words! What a happy pretty post to start with on Monday morning. Love those mehndi hearts.

Renata said...

WOW Aparna! These are masterpieces!!! Stunning work you've done on your cookies. You're so talented!

Sharmilee! :) said...

Wow Awesome....lovely cookies....so cute...u r really very creative!!

Tracy said...

Wow, you are so talented! What gorgeous cookies!!

Catalina said...

Oh my gosh! Your cookies are sooo beatufil! I love them :) I really like the idea with the "puzzle" sunflower - brilliant. Guess I'm a little jealous :D

Catalina

Pavithra said...

Wow aparna its damn cute and finish is really goregeous.. tile design,mosaic design, cupcake and cakes, mehendi omg fantastic and i am really feeling bad that i missed the challenge this time..awesome works. Keep it up !!!

Pavithra
www.dishesfrommykitchen.com

Shobana said...

Sheer beauty. Thats all can be said.

Ria Mathew said...

ABSOLUTELY STUNNING!! I missed DB once again, this month :-/

Akila said...

so colourful and beautiful cookies.... superb....

Srimathi said...

Happy Birthday to you and your mom. The cookies look like an art tile. Looks so exclusive. I loved the color combinations. I know its all about taste but I loved the icing.

Foodie Ann said...

Wow...Very pretty...Loved the Sunflower squares and the heart shaped mehandi design...so cool...:)

shelley c. said...

WOW. Your work for this challenge is absolutely stunning. I am truly amazed by your talent and creativity. The tile cookies? The puzzle flower cookie? The detail work on the heart cookies? I could go on and on about each one - these are truly amazing and impressive works of art.

Curry Leaf said...

GORGEOUS. Can't take my eyes off these beauties

sinfullyspicy said...

Thats super gorgeous work on the cookies.Some of these look like the tiles we use in our houses.Very Impressive work Aprna
-Tanvi

Tamanna said...

oh my didnt you go an extra mile for these luscious looking mehendi cookies? love love the mehendi theme and cannot stop staring at your beautifully crafted presentation! great work =)

Zita said...

OMG!!! You r the expert of decorating cookies... I knew that one who can do mehendi can handpaint anything beautifully :)

Deeba PAB said...

Beautifully done Aparna ... what a great array! I do love the tiles! Excellent!

Christina said...

Beautiful cookies! Way too pretty to eat :)

Ann said...

Oh thes eare AMAZING Aparna, my personal faves (of course pLURAL) are the tiles and the mehdi. What awesome detail! I do wish I can give your eggless recipes a try (some day - wishful thinking given my backlog of bookmarked recipes). I like the fact that you said the royal icing you made is not too sweet.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

OMG, your cookies are stunning! I LOVE them all. You have really outdone yourself here. :-0

Cheers,

Rosa

Ruth H. said...

You are an artist. I love the mosaic flower. And the stained glass looking butterflies. And the Mehendi hearts. And the delicate doughnut cookies... Pretty much, I love them all and thank you for sharing your talents with us!

Tia said...

great job! they are really intricate, beautiful and festive.

Torviewtoronto said...

beautiful designs colourful love to admire them :)

Priya said...

Woww am awestuck to see ur mosaic cookies, looks soo pretty..

Satya said...

awesome work ....cookies looks wonderful ..beautiful work ..amazing

Satya
http://www.superyummyrecipes.com

Aparna S Mallya said...

I'm completely in awe! Finding it very hard to close my mouth.

MandyM said...

Aparna, your cookies are GORGEOUS! I particularly love the colourful mosaic "tiles", they're fantastic. Such a simple idea but so striking.

All your cookie designs are fantastic and I'm so glad that you enjoyed the challenge! Thank you for taking part, I really am blown away with your designs :)

Marcellina said...

Absolutely beautiful, Aparna! Actually I am glad to have your tips and ideas even if to others they are obvious. Also the photos are great. Those piping bags - are they just plastic bags or proper piping bags? I had one bag and had to keep changing colours and tips. I love the variety of cookies -all of them are beautiful but I particularly love the "Mehendi" hearts!

Urvashee said...

Love the mehendi cookies but the stained glass look ones are my favorite!!! Gorgeous!

shewhisks said...

I cant begin to tell you how much I love all your cookies and how clear it is that you have put so much time and effort behind it, which has resulted in outstandingly gorgeous decorated cookies. Seriously, you have a very creative flair! Love all the photos too. Well done!

Amy Lucille said...

Beautiful job, really wish I could of participated this month.

Namratha said...

My oh my! These are simply too pretty to eat, loved all your decorations, very well done Aparna!

Heather said...

Fantastic cookies and amazing piping skills.

Srivalli said...

OMG Aparna, everything is gorgeous!..simply out of the world..you have really out done yourself..loved every one of them!..Happy Birthday again..

silverrock said...

Such adorable cookies! You never cease to amaze me with your decorating and culinary brilliance! Keep up the amazing work ^_^

PriyaVaasu said...

OMG!! Aparna, Mindblowing, What an riot of colors!!! Love that Flower Tile Cookies!!!! u have hell a lot of patience!!!!

anchan said...

Breath-taking creations, Aparna! I was stumped for inspiration this month, you certainly weren't! So colourful, stunning designs... 5 gold starts from me! xxx

suma said...

Wow!Wow!Wow!!! Simply amazing Aparna!! You really are artistic and creative!! I had never thought of eggless royal icing, thanks so much for sharing this...

bakeinparis said...

Beautiful decorations.... simply breathtaking! My favorite is the mehendi hearts :-)

Sawadee from Bangkok,
Kris

Amanda said...

Fantastic job!! You are quite talented... and creative!

Be blessed-
Amanda

shaz said...

Absolutely beautiful job. I've seen many, many breathtaking cookies, btu I think these are my favourite by far. Fabulous! And happy belated birthday :)

cumincoriandercardamom said...

I cannot believe these are edible. If i were you, i would have framed them!

andreagroves said...

These are the most gorgeous sugar cookies I have ever seen!
You're a very skilled and creative chef! And your daughter is too. :)

Next time I make sugar cookies, I'm going to try to model mine after yours! (try, because it might not be possible.)

Laavanya said...

Aparna, the decorations are mindblowing... You are so very creative & talented. Kudos!

frankie said...

All of your cookies are absolutely gorgeous! I LOVE the hearts!

UFRV said...

Aparna, you outdo yourself with these :-) Beautifully decorated, so much work, and such creativity!

Renuka said...

I love love love the mehendi heart cookies. Gosh you are so talented....I would like to try it out but fear my piping skills might not be so good. Infact I love all the cookies, absolutely amazing. This is my first time on daring bakers and I am so glad I joined.

www.cuminandcardamom.blogspot.com

Sumi said...

Mesimerising cookies Aparna.My favorites are the tiles.Absolutly gorgeous..

Magpie said...

WOWWWWW!! stunning! I just fell off my chair!

The Betz Family said...

Those are absolutely breath-taking, and such a variety! Nice job on the challenge!

Nadia said...

Amazing work, all the designs are great but i love the mehndi ones since i also attempted them, your eggless recipes sounds fun.

Sweet Artichoke said...

Woaw, your cookies are amazing! You are a real artist! I love the tiles cookies and the Mehendi heart cookies. I, too, tried the mehendi decoration for this challenge, but I am far from your skills!

Sangee said...

I have never seen such beautifully decorated cookies before. Amazing patterns, perfect and neat work! Kudos to u!

Suzler said...

These are the most beautiful cookies. They're so perfect and intricate. I'm so impressed!

Dee Das said...

Oh my god those are stunning! I loved those mehndi hearts! I had something like that in mind when I started making my challenge, but then i realized it had to september themed, and never made them :(
And the rest of the cookies amazing also, but the mehndi ones are definitely my favorite :)

Vimala said...

WOW!!
Intricate Designs and they are beautiful.
Second time here and thanks for the eggless Royal Icing recipe.

Maria Beatrix said...

Wow! Absolutely gorgeous cookies. Loved all of them but the buterflies and the mehndi hearts are my favourites. Well done

Laura said...

Beautiful cookies and very diverse designs, it must have taken you a lot of patience.

Job well done!

jackieruinsthecake said...

These all look so gorgeous and delicious! I need to try making sugar cookies sometime.

Romy said...

Wow! You made so many different kinds, are they are all gorgeous. I especially like the four-tile flower ones, and the henna-decorated hearts... and the butterflies... heck I like everything! Wonderful job, I think yours are some of the best ones I've seen so far.

Lisa said...

Aparna - haands down, one of the if not THE most beautiful array of cookies in this challenge. I am absolutely speechless. Such intricate work on the Mendhi cookies, and the mosaic and butterflies are just breath taking. You could make a mint decorating and selling cookies - seriously!

Stephanie @ Per l'Amore del Cibo said...

Your piping/icing skills are absolutely wonderful. Great job on the challenge!

diseƱo web said...

This is a delicious dish

veena krishnakumar said...

so cute. LOVED THE MEHENDI HEARTS.

Roshan said...

hands of an artist....superb!!

Susan said...

Some of the dearest and most amazingly decorated cookies I've ever seen. I'm particularly smitten with the tiled flowers. And no egg in the royal icing? Never heard of such a thing! : }

Clever beauties, Aparna.

Bharti said...

So beautiful- love the mehndi inspired ones the most. Hope you are doing well Aparna- its been a while!

Sirius73 said...

Wow! Your cookies look great. You're an amazing decorator.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

These are breathtaking! Excellent job!

Miri said...

Simply simply breathtaking Aparna - you are so creative! the mehendi cookies especially are such a beautiful fusion of the east and the west. Kudos!!!

Todd M said...

They are all beautiful and some look like they were a lot of work. I especially like the glass tile ones.

bhagyashri said...

They are beautiful Aparna! I loved just watching them, wouldnt want to eat & finish them off, although I am sure they must have been delicious!

Vidya said...

Planning to make this for my coworkers this holiday season. I've been dreaming about these since I saw your post. Thanks again!

Wishing you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas and a very happy 2011 in advance!

Vidya

jill said...

Hi-Your pictures are inspiring! For the icing recipe is icing sugar the same as confectioners sugar? I know confectioners sugar already has cornstarch in it and since cornstarch is another ingredient I want to make sure I use the right kind of sugar.
Thanks, Jill

Aparna said...

Thank you, Jill. Yes, icing sugar is the same as confectioner's sugar and contains a bit of cornstarch.
And yes, the icing requires a little more cornstarch as well. So there's a bit of cornstarch already in the icing sugar and then you need to add some more to make the icing.

Anonymous said...

I have a question, does the icing harden? How long does it take?