Today is my mother-in-law’s birthday, and we all know what that means: baked goodies! Well, at least that’s one of the things it means in this family. And since my mother-in-law doesn’t particularly enjoy baking (although she’s really a lot better than she gives herself credit for), I offered to pick up the task in honor of her big day. Several weeks earlier we’d stumbled across a recipe for a Troika cake (Troika is a Norwegian candy bar layered with chocolate, marzipan, and raspberry jelly) that she said she’d really like to try, but I decided I couldn’t stop there. Oh no, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to find an excuse to bake and decorate some cookies too.
Brushed Rose Cookies
Yields approximately 2 dozen cookies
For the cookies:
1 stick (113 grams) butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 1/2 cups all purpose flours
For the royal icing:
4 tbsp. meringue or egg white powder
1/2 cup luke-warm water
500 grams (just over 1 lb.) powdered sugar
Red food gel
For the brush work:
A small, clean, round tip brush
A small glass of warm water
A paper towel for blotting the brush
The recipe detailing the making of the sugar cookies can be found here. I like to make my cookies at least the night before, but you can make them the same day just as long as you let them cool completely before icing them. You can also make them up to a week in advance as long as you keep them in a sealed container or bag.
To make the royal icing, whisk the meringue or egg white powder together with the water until frothy and all the powder is dissolved. Add the powdered sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks form (about 5-6 minutes). At this point, you can cover your royal icing and keep it up to a week in the refrigerator before use. When you’re ready to ice your cookies, remove about 3-4 heaping tablespoons to a separate bowl, tint it to the desired shade of red, cover with plastic wrap pressed down against the icing, and set aside in the refrigerator (this will be the red icing for the flowers). Take the rest of the royal icing and thin it, one teaspoons of water at a time, to a piping consistency (I like to make my a 20-25 second consistency, meaning that a glob of icing dropped back into the bowl would be completely reabsorbed within 20-25 seconds). Spoon about 2 heaping tablespoons into a piping bag or the corner of a plastic bag, and set aside. Take the remaining icing and thin it, one teaspoon of water at a time, to a 10 second flood consistency (this means that a glob of icing dropped back into the bowl would be completely reabsorbed within 10 seconds). Spoon into a piping bag or the corner of a plastic bag and set aside. Clip a small opening for your piping icing, and pipe a border around the edge of each cookie. Once all of the cookies have a border, clip the tip from your flood icing bag and flood the center with icing. Be sure to use enough flood icing to completely fill the center and create a level layer to work on. Once the cookies have been flooded, you can go back and fill any imperfections by using a toothpick to drag icing into the holes. Set your cookies aside to dry overnight (or at least 3-4 hours) before continuing with the decorations.
Once the icing on the cookies has dried, remove the red icing from the refrigerator and thin it to a piping consistency. Spoon the icing into a piping bag or the corner of a plastic bag, and clip a small amount from the tip. Begin piping the outer edge of the first petal. Don’t worry about making it perfect because you can even things out with the brush, and flower petals aren’t perfect anyway. Take your brush and slightly moisten it. Try not to get too much water as this will make the icing runny and transparent. Using the damp brush, pull the icing down toward what will eventually become the center of the flower. Pipe a second, slightly overlapping petal edge and, again, pull the icing down toward the center using the damp brush. Continue working your way around until you have a complete first layer of petals (I usually end up with about 5 petals along the outer edge). Using the same technique, create a second layer of petals closer to the center to fill in the flower and cover any bare spots. You can find a great video detailing this process on Ali Bee’s Bake Shop channel. Pipe a center to complete the flowers, and a few dots around the flowers to fill in the white space.