Christmas cookies: Where art and baking collide
BY NICOLE MARSHALL MIDDLETON World Scene Writer
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
12/12/12 at 1:58 PM
Dust off those cookie cutters, it's Christmas cookie decorating time again.
Cookie decorating should be fun, not stressful, so we sought out some tips from a pro to help you create nicely iced sugar cookies.
Kat Barbee of Barbee Cookies at 103rd Street and Memorial Drive took some time out of her busy schedule to share some basic decorating tips.
Barbee Cookies, which opened in July 2010, is as busy as Santa's workshop this time of year. The bakers and cookie artists are turning out thousands of cookies, many cheerfully decorated as Santas, snowmen, stars, presents and Christmas trees.
Barbee's daughter, Hallee, helped develop new cookie recipes at the bakery, including sugar cookies, double chocolate, cranberry pecan shortbread, white chocolate shortbread and cinnamon roll cookies, among others.
And her art skills have come in handy when it's time to decorate the cookies. Hallee Barbee is a senior at Union High School and plans to attend art school after graduation.
"We heavily rely on her to do a lot of our decorating," Barbee said. "She is great at decorating, and we ask her to do a lot of the orders that we get for unique requests."
It's important to gather all of your decorating tools - such as pastry bags of icing, sanding sugars and bowls of decorations - before you start. And not all decorated cookies have to be cutouts, which can be difficult to work with.
Barbee explained that circle cookies can be used for designs such as Santas, snowflakes and snowmen.
When making a Santa on a circle cookie, pipe a triangle in red icing at the top. Use white icing for the trim and the fluffy white beard. Finish the cookie with whatever color you choose for the eyes.
Before icing a cookie, always make sure that your cookies are cool. Then start thinking about the layers of color that you want to see on the cookie.
"For example, with the snowflake, we really want it to pop, so we start with a really pretty blue color and then decorate it with white," Barbee said.
Although royal icing is harder and less susceptible to damage, Barbee said they prefer the flavor and appearance of the buttercream. They dip the icing in sanding sugar to give it more protection, however.
"One reason we dip most everything in sanding sugar is so we can put it in bags and if it touches something else it won't get indentations," Barbee said.
Many of the cookies are decorated in layers of icing and then sanding sugar. Those layers give the cookies a finished look.
She uses layers to create snowflake cookies. First she swirls on a base color such as blue and then dips it in sanding sugar. Next, she pipes on white details and dips it in sanding sugar again.
"Quick, easy, beautiful and delicious, Barbee said.
Here are some recipes if you would like to try making iced sugar cookies.
QUICK VANILLA BUTTERCREAM ICING
3 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream
1. In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well-blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.
2. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.
Note: add cocoa powder for a chocolate icing.
- adapted from Food Network, submitted by Gale Gand
With royal icing, it is best to pipe on the outlines and then fill in the middle.
1 box (1 pound) powdered sugar
5 tablespoons meringue powder or 2 large egg whites
1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water.
2. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.
- adapted from Martha Stewart recipes
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1. Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
2. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheet.
3. Divide dough in half. Roll each half 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with 2-to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutters. Place on cookie sheet.
4. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.
- adapted from Betty Crocker
Two types of icings for cookies
Buttercream: Sweet, buttery flavor and looks beautiful for most decorating. Thin-to-stiff consistency depending on the amount of sugar added. Can be used for most decorations including roses, drop flowers, sweet peas and figure piping. Iced cookies can be stored at room temperature for two to three days. Flowers remain soft enough to be cut with a knife.
Royal icing: Very sweet flavor. Dries candy-hard for lasting decorations. Thin-to-stiff consistency depending on the amount of water added. Icing can be stored in airtight, grease-free container at room temperature for 2 weeks. Air-dried decorations last for months.
12 Days of Cookies
Check back here tomorrow for the start of
the Hiland Dairy 12 Days of Cookies countdown.
We received about 500 treasured family recipes
during the contest period.
It wasn’t easy, but we chose 12 recipes as winners.
One recipe will run in the Scene section every day
starting Thursday and ending Dec. 24.
The winning cooks will receive free milk for a year
from Hiland Dairy — 52 coupons for gallons of milk.
But there were too many good recipes to stop
at the 12 winners.
We also will be running some great
recipes — our honorable mentions
— in the paper on Dec. 23.
Tools of the trade
Here are some basic tools that you will need for cookie decorating.
Disposable pastry bags filled with icing: These bags can be messy to fill, but Wilton cake and cookie decorating supply company suggests filling the bag with an angled spatula with about a half cup of icing. It's important not to overfill or it will come out the back end of the bag. Close the bag and twist to force the icing toward the tip. Squeeze some out into a bowl to make sure all of the air is gone.
Food coloring: Dip a toothpick into the color, then swirl it into the icing. Add color a little at a time until you achieve the shade you desire. Blend the icing well with a spatula. Consider the type of icing you are using when mixing color. Icing colors intensify or darken in buttercream icing about one to two hours after mixing. Royal icing requires more color than buttercream icing to achieve the same color intensity, according to Wilton.
Decorating tips: These metal tips that fit at the end of the pastry bag come in different sizes and shapes. The tips are identified by numbers stamped on the side.
Offset spatula: Offset spatulas are narrow tools that have a thin, flat metal paddle at one end. The blade is blunt and is used for spreading frosting, batter and icing. They have a large surface area that makes it easy to push batter around evenly and smoothly. Offset spatulas come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
Bowls for sugars and decorations: Keep bowls close at hand to hold all of your various decorations. You can also use a spoon to sprinkle the decorations on the cookies while the icing is still wet. Otherwise, the sugars or decorations won't stick.
Sanding sugars: Decorating sugars come in many colors and sizes, creating different effects on your cookie. Dip iced cookies in the sugars or sprinkle them with the sugar.
Sprinkles and other decorations: Feel free to get creative with your cookie decorations. In addition to sugars and sprinkles, consider chocolate chips, crushed mint candies, M&M's, Red Hots, chocolate kisses, dried fruits, coconut and nuts.
Drying rack: Place decorated cookies on the rack after you are done. Let icing set before wrapping or stacking cookies.
8222 E. 103rd St.
More information about Barbee Cookies can be found on its website at tulsaworld.com/barbeecookies
Original Print Headline: Artistry in Cookies
Nicole Marshall Middleton 918-581-8459
Kat Barbee of Barbee Cookies decorates holiday cookies. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World
With a few basic tools, you'll be decorating cookies in no time. CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World
CHRISTOPHER SMITH / Tulsa World