I may have said this before, but I have the best husband ever. There are so many reasons why, but today it happens to be because he is taking me to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D tonight! I’m a huge Tim Burton fan, so as soon as I knew that he was creating his version of Wonderland, I knew I had to see it!
In honor of the movie opening today, and my hubby taking me to see it, I decided to make some cookies! I have a great sugar cookie recipe that I love to use for occasions like this, because it rolls out and cuts beautifully, and it tastes wonderful! Too often sugar cookies are far too bland or cloyingly sweet, and don’t even get me started on texture. But these are tasty enough to stand on their own two feet, but not so sweet that frosting is overkill. I like to cut them nice and thick so that they have a softer texture.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl, or a standing mixer. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined before adding the next one. Stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture a little at a time until it is all mixed in thoroughly. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours or overnight. I always make mine a day early and allow it to chill overnight out of convenience.
Once the dough is chilled, it’s time to roll it out, but I wanted to share one of my favorite cookie making tools with you before we get going on rolling and cutting the cookies.
This is a Dobord and it is the greatest invention to baking since the oven. I love this thing! Now, I’ll be honest…I can’t find this thing for sale anywhere anymore. I’ve had mine for 8 years now, and it shows. I’d love to get a new one, and I’m sure when you see what it does, you’ll want one too, but it will be a wild goose chase.
See, it’s adjustable, which is really cool. The frame come off and moves up and down allowing you to adjust the thickness that your dough rolls out to. You simply unscrew the top piece and set it aside. Then you slide the frame off and line it up in the tracks for the desired thickness. You can set it at zero to control your own thickness, or there are preset adjustments at 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, and 1/2 inch! This thing is AWESOME! (Sorry if you can’t find it!)
Now we can get back to the cookies…
Place a portion of dough on the counter and sprinkle more flour on top. Roll the dough a quarter of an inch to a half inch thick (I usually do 3/8 inch on my Dobord) and start cutting with cookie cutters.
Obviously, I was very excited about making Wonderland cookies, but I don’t have any shaped cutters for that, so I had to brainstorm a bit. Many of my shapes were basic circles and rectangles, but for others, things were a little more complicated. I had to cut small crowns out by hand to represent the Queen of Hearts, but for the rest I was able to improvise a bit with my cutters. I’m sure you can buy all of the shapes that I made, but with a little imagination and some puzzle working with your own cutters, there’s no reason to spend the extra money.
The first shape I knew I had to have was Mad Hatter’s top hat.
I used a witch hat shaped cutter first, then I cut another small piece with just the point of the same cutter and rotated it to fit against the hat, making it into a top hat. It’s a little wonky and mis-proportioned, but that’s perfect for this particular top hat!
Next, I wanted to make some fat little mushrooms.
I used a heart shaped cutter for the cap. Just cut the heart out and turn it upside down. Then I used a carrot cutter from my Easter set for the stem (any similarly shaped cutter will work, even just a part of a cutter). I cut a small section of dough with the carrot shape, then cut the “leafy” part off. I then used the same heart shaped cutter as before to give the stem a point that will fit into the mushroom cap perfectly.
I decided early on that I would be making simple round cookies inscribed with “Eat me” to represent the little cakes Alice encounters in the story. When I told my husband he asked me, “What about the ‘Drink me’ bottles?” I hadn’t intended to do those, but he was insistent, so I made a couple just for him.
Using my carrot cutter again, I cut two full carrot shapes out, cut off the “leaves” (saving one), and stuck the carrots to each other in opposite directions. I then used one of the “leafy” tops as the bottle top.
Finally, I made some tea cups and pots.
I again used my heart shaped cutter for the main part of the cookies. For the cup I sliced off the point at the bottom of the heart and the two curves off the top (curving down as I cut to give the cup a rim). I then used a smaller heart cutter to cut out half of a heart to act as the handle. Simply stick it to the side of the cup and your all set.
For a teapot, cut the point off like with the cup, but do not cut the top of the heart off. You will do the handle the same way, but you also need a spout.
I used a small chili pepper cutter from my Pampered Chef Creative Cutters set for the spout. I just didn’t use the leaves and stem parts. I flipped the “pepper” in the direction I needed it and stuck it on the pot.
Place all of the cookies about two inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment and bake at 400 degrees for about ten minutes (the thinner the cookie dough, the less baking time is necessary), or until just barely browning at the edges. Allow them to cool completely before frosting.
While the cookies are baking and cooling, mix up your frosting. You can use a buttercream type frosting for simpler, fluffier cookies, or a royal icing to decorate more elaborately. I went for a royal icing type of frosting. This recipe is easy to decorate with like royal frosting, but it doesn’t dry quite as hard and it has a much nicer flavor.
You need confectioners’ sugar, milk, light corn syrup, and lemon or almond extract. You can also use assorted food colors, if you like. Simply mix all of the ingredients together in medium bowl and add colors, as desired. I usually have to make three or four batches over the course of my decorating, but it’s extremely fast and easy, so I don’t mind.
Now on to the really fun stuff: decorating!
Fill a decorating bag with frosting and attach the smallest writing tip you have (or use a zip top bag with a very small hole cut in one corner. Begin by tracing the outside of the cookie with a fine line of frosting. If it is too runny to stay in place on the cookie, add a small amount of sugar to thicken it. Next, flood the inside of the area with more frosting (if it’s too thick, add more milk, very, very small amounts at a time, to thin it). You can completely fill it using your bag if you like, but I like to squiggle some frosting on and spread it with my spatula. This gives me a little more control. If the frosting is slightly bumpy like the third image, don’t worry. It will settle and smooth out as it sits. Once your cookie has it’s base color you can start adding details. If you add other colors right away, they will sink down into the first frosting color, creating a smooth surface. If you wait until the first bit of frosting dries a bit, then the next details will sit on top, giving the cookies some dimension. Both techniques look equally pretty.
Here are some completed cookies.
Take your time decorating and have fun with it. You just need to have a little patience and your cookies will come out beautiful!! You can also use Food Writers on these if you let them dry first. These are a lot of fun to make as a family, too, so get the everyone in the kitchen and enjoy!!
Rolled Sugar Cookies
with Sweet Cookie Icing
FOR THE COOKIES
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
FOR THE (FAUX ROYAL) ICING
4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons milk, more for thinner frosting or less for thicker
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 teaspoon lemon extract
assorted food coloring
To make the cookies: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture a little at a time until it is all mixed in thoroughly. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours or overnight.
Roll the chilled dough out on a floured surface and cut to desired shapes with cookie cutters.
Bake for 10 minutes, or until edges just begin to brown. Allow to cool before decorating.
To make the frosting: In a small bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in corn syrup and lemon or almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more milk. If it’s too thin, add more sugar. If desired, divide into separate bowls, and add food coloring to each.
Decorate cookies as desired.