Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wonderland Sugar Cookies

…Still she haunts me, phantomwise
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream --
Lingering in the golden gleam --
Life what is it but a dream?
          -From Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll

  In a recurring dream, I stumble upon a small glass box with a perfect little confection inside, the words “Eat Me” spelled out on top in frosting.  Perhaps that’s why making these adorable cookies for an Alice in Wonderland themed 1st birthday party last weekend was so deeply satisfying.  And it was a good thing that I made some extras because even I couldn’t resist doing just what they commanded.

  I used a simple sugar cookie dough and frosted them with pale blue royal icing- here’s Martha’s recipe if you want to try it. This type of rolled cookie dough recipe is made using the creaming method which provides a short crumb and buttery texture.    
  I start by creaming the butter and sugar until they lighten a bit, then add the eggs and vanilla one at a time.  I mix slowly to allow the fats to absorb the liquids and form an emulsion- if any of the ingredients are too cold, the mixture will curdle.  I cheat and take a blowtorch to the KitchenAid bowl, but if you don’t have one lying around it’s a good idea to remove the butter and eggs from the fridge like an hour before you want to use them.    

  I add sifted dry ingredients to the butter and eggs and mix on low until just combined.  You don’t want to overwork the dough here- kneading develops gluten and results in a tough final product.  As soon as the dough forms a ball, you can divide it in parts and wrap it in plastic parcels to refrigerate.

  Once the dough hardens in the fridge, I roll it out and cut out shapes, then bake until golden brown.

  Then I ice and decorate.  For these I used a loose royal icing, then piped in a firmer purple icing on top. 

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