Monday, September 27, 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge: Decorated Sugar Cookies

The September 2010 Daring Baker’s challenge was hosted by Mandy of What the Fruitcake?!  Mandy challenged everyone to make Decorated Sugar Cookies based on recipes from Peggy Porchen and the Joy of Baking.
Adapting the sugar cookie recipe to eliminate the butter and eggs was fairly simple.  I adapted a recipe from that Mandy recommended.  I made one batch with white sugar and one batch with maple sugar.  The maple sugar made the cookies darker, and even though they didn’t have a discernible maple flavor, they did have a more interesting flavor.

Royal Icing can easily be made without egg whites by replacing them with corn starch.  The biggest challenge was replacing the artificial colors you use to decorate the cookies.  I thought about making my own colors by concentrating beet juice and other items but then I found this...

The red color is made from beets, the blue is from red cabbage and the yellow is made from curcumin.
The colors are not as vibrant as their artificial counterparts but they have a nice subtle, muted tone that went well with the fall leaf theme.  The red color by itself was disappointing, it was more pink than red.

I started with simple leaf veins made from combining red and yellow...the orange is more peach colored.

and then I tried outlining the leaf and “flooding” it, but not completely, to give it some texture.

 This next leaf was “flooded” completely with a combination of red, blue and yellow to make brown.

 This next one is flooded with green and then decorated with orange veins. 

and the last version was flooded on one half with green and the other half with yellow and then decorated with orange.  It’s fun to play around with the colors and decorations.  The process is much easier if you have all of the colors made up ahead of time and put into different piping bags.

Vegan Sugar Cookies
3 oz (weighed) Earth Balance whipped butter substitute
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract  
2 tablespoons natural soy creamer (Wildwood or Silk)
1 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Cream the butter substitute and sugar until light and fluffy.
Stir in the vanilla extract and creamer.
Mix the baking powder into the flour and slowly add it to the creamed mixture.
Do not over mix it.  
Wrap the cookie dough in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for an hour.
Roll the dough out to a 1/4 of an inch thickness and cut out whatever shapes you desire.
Transfer the cookies to a cookie sheet and refrigerate for another 30 minutes.
(this prevents the cookies from loosing their shape while baking)
Preheat your oven to 350°
Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes or until the edges start to turn brown.
Let them cool for 5 minutes before trying to move them.
Allow them to cool completely before decorating.
Royal Icing
(You want to make small batches for each color)
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons corn starch
2 teaspoons (or more) rice milk
Natural food colors
Sift the powdered sugar and cornstarch together into a bowl.
Add about 6 drops of color.
Add the rice milk and stir.
Adjust the color if needed.
The Icing should be thick, you may need to add a little more sugar or rice milk to get the right consistency.

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